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Op-ed writing tips

An op-ed is an opinion piece on a newsworthy topic. Op-eds (so-called because they typically appear opposite the editorial page of newspapers) provide an opportunity for experts to inform and stimulate public debate – and sometimes help shape policy. Please feel free to contact the Media Relations Office if you have any questions.

Some tips for writing them:

  • Craft a clear message, focus tightly on one idea or argument and tell readers, high up in the piece, why they should care. Write in strong, lively language – but don’t rant.
  • Provocative or contrarian viewpoints are more likely to grab editors’ attention.
  • Make it timely. Tie your piece to the strongest possible news peg – a high-profile Supreme Court ruling or major space-exploration launch, for example -- and deliver it several days ahead of that event, if possible.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short and simple. Editors love punchy copy. So do readers.
  • Choose a strong title for your piece, knowing that the editor may decide to change it. (They almost always rewrite the headline, but it still pays to craft a headline that will grab their attention.)
  • Weave in relevant facts and statistics to bolster your case, but try and avoid using too many of them.
  • If you have a good graphic to drive home a point, offer it.
  • Steer clear of academic jargon and technical terms; if readers (and editors) have to labour to figure out what you’re saying, you’ve lost them.
  • Consider working in a “to be sure” paragraph, to anticipate and preempt objections.
  • Anecdotes and examples may help illustrate points and add colour to the piece.
  • If you’re focusing on a problem, propose ways to fix it.
  • Finish on a note that reinforces your message.
  • Some newspapers ask for your picture, so please include a high resolution image along with the piece.
  • Aim for a length of 650-750 words. (Even that may be too long for some newspapers.) Keep in mind that editors reserve the right to edit or condense contributions.
  • Most newspapers and commentary sites post guidelines and addresses for submitting op-eds electronically. Include text within the body of an e-mail – attachments are usually discouraged.
  • Submissions need to be exclusive to one media outlet, so don’t approach a second publication until you’ve been declined at the first one. You may stipulate at the top of your piece that you will offer it elsewhere if you don’t hear back within a certain period of time – three business days, for example.
  •  Major newspapers are often flooded with far more submissions than they can possibly print, so try to target your piece strategically. The Media Relations Office may be able to help identify the most appropriate outlets for your piece.
  •  Make sure to include your contact information and a brief line on your credentials.

National Media

Globe and Mail
Email: comment [at] globeandmail [dot] com
Fax: 416.585.5505
Tel: 416.585.5568

National Post
Email: mgurney [at] nationalpost [dot] com
Fax: 416.442.2209
Tel: 416.383.2300

Toronto Star
Email: oped [at] thestar [dot] ca

Ottawa Citizen
Email: kheartfield [at] ottawacitizen [dot] ca

Local Media

Montreal Gazette

Email: opinion [at] montrealgazette [dot] com

La Presse
Email : debats [at] lapresse [dot] ca

Le Devoir
Email : arobitaille [at] ledevoir [dot] com

International Media

New York Times
Email: opinion [at] nytimes [dot] com
Fax: 212.556.4100
Tel: 212.556.1831

The Washington Post
Email: oped [at] washpost [dot] com
Web: Submission Form
Fax: 202.334.5269
Tel: 202.334.7471

Useful links:

http://journalistsresource.org/tip-sheets/writing/how-to-write-an-op-ed-...
http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/6_tips_for_writing_and_placing_oped...
http://www.theopedproject.org/
http://oped.ca/
http://www.ccmc.org/sites/default/files/Top100op-eds.pdf