Letter Writing

  Let yourself       be heard   

Is writing your thing? It does not have to be so if this is how you choose to advocate for your cause. In this section, writing letters of support to maximize positive response will be discussed; the types of letters include: letters for elected officials and letters to the editor (opinion editorials are a different thing, if you are seeking to do an op-ed feel free to check out the "media" page for more details). 

If you want an elected official to consider a specific action or policy or if you want to respond to a particular action or change in policy, writing a letter to your elected officials would be an excellent way to do so. Since elected officials want to know how constituents feel about issues that involve decisions made by them, you would want to make your letter personal and recount your experiences, observations or opinions. There may already be advocacy groups voicing the concerns you have already, but hearing it from you may help persuade them in your favor. 

If you would like to write a well-written personal letter but don't know where to start, feel free to use the following outline to help you organize the content of your letter:

  1. Identify the recipient of the letter and get their name, title, and address 

  2. Start the letter respectfully (include date, the title of the recipient, the title of the office, the office's address...etc.)

  3. Clarify the purpose of the letter

  4. Speak about your understanding of the issue or the decision that is being considered

  5. Explain where you stand in the issue

  6. State what you expect to happen and how those changes will affect you and your community

  7. Acknowledge the support the recipient has made in the past

  8. Explain what action you'd hope the recipient to take

  9. Close 

  10. Sign the letter

If you are not sure that you are in a good spot to write a letter to an elected official, here's a checklist to help you figure it out:

A letter to an elected official is different a letter to the editor in that in a letter to an elected official it's directed to an individual with power, and a letter to the editor is directed at a specific article that recently appeared in publication. A letter to the editor allows individuals to talk to media; they are usually found in the first part of a newspaper, the front/beginning of a magazine or in the editorial page. They are no more than 300 words and tend to be packed with emotions and facts. Letters to the editor can be used to:

  • State a position in an issue

  • Inform about the issue addressed ​

  • Persuade readers 

  • All of the above combined

People tend to submit their letters to the editor via email since it could delay when it gets printed if done otherwise, but it is also an option to submit them as a postal letter or to fax the letter.

If you are ready to get the word out about an issue, to influence public opinion, educate your community about something, or influence policy makers directly or indirectly, writing a letter to the editor about a recent publicized article is a powerful method to do so. Don't know where to start? Use this outline of steps to get you started:

  1. Start with "To the Editor" (if you have the editor's name, feel free to add it here...otherwise this is good)

  2. Open with an attention-getter sentence

  3. State the purpose of the letter

  4. Explain the reasons why the issue is of high importance

  5. Provide clarity about the consequences the issue brings/could bring

  6. Give your opinion about what needs to be done

  7. Close

  8. Sign

If you are not sure that you are in a good spot to write a letter to the editor, here's a checklist to help you figure it out: