How to Write an Op-Ed
An op-ed piece is usually used to describe guest columns that appear “opposite” the “editorial” page of a media outlet.
Op-eds are approximately 750 words to 800 words, but different outlets have different length preferences (the guidelines can usually be found where the submission information is posted). You should not submit anything longer!
News outlets consider the op-ed pages a hot commodity, because many people are vying for a finite amount of space to make their argument. Make sure your article has a clear argument and a unique perspective, so that your article stands out from the crowd.
It’s important to establish your credibility and expertise. Don’t underestimate yourself: being a parent as a school qualifies you as an expert at, well, being a parent at your school! You may wish to connect the issue you care about to larger issues in society; for example, issue XYZ underscores a wider problem with the indoctrination of children in public schools. This is your “nut graf” (your nutshell paragraph). Make it compelling!
Include quotes, research, anecdotes and first-hand information. Add hyperlinks to your evidence and documentation.
Op-Ed Template Outline
TITLE by YOUR NAME
Lede paragraph: This is about 150 words or less. This establishes the news hook. It could be an anecdote. It could be the controversy brewing.
Follow up paragraph: This explains the lede paragraph further. This is about 100 words or less.
Nut graf: This tells people why they should care. Connect your local issue to larger issues that tell readers why they should care about your issue. For example, XYZ underscores/reveals/reflects a wider issue with the politicization of K-12 schools nationwide.
Body of the op-ed: Keep it short – about 500 words or less.
Closing graf: This is about 100 words or less. You can go back to your opening anecdote and close the loop. You can provide a detail that makes your argument really sink in deep with the reader. This is your final punch. Use it well! End with your vision, goal, final argument and call to action.
- The Op-Ed Project
- “How to Write an Op-Ed,” Harvard University