Guide to Writing Op-Eds

PEP Presentation

Writing Opinion Editorials Presentation by Amy Schalet, PhD

Handouts from Presentation

Places to Submit Op-Eds

Examples of Op-Eds 

Tips from the New York Times

Tips from PEP's Op-Ed Panel  

  • Consult the The Op-Ed Project, an excellent resource on writing an submitting op-eds
  • Write in a jargon-free manner, and use teaching skills for non-academic audiences.
  • Check on the space limit (typically 600-800 words).
  • Be willing to work and rework your piece to get it under the word cut-off.
  • It is difficult to place a piece in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, but it is not as difficult in the major regional newspapers, especially with research expertise.
  • Submit a cover letter that explains to the editors why your op-ed is worth printing.
  • Explain how you contribute to an existing debate.
  • One structure that you might follow is the following:

Make one main point.

Provide three examples.

Return to main point.

Additional Tips for Writing and Placing Op-Eds

by Bill McKibben, scholar-in-residence, Environmental Studies Program, Middlebury College

  • Keep it current: Be sure your topic is relevant to current news.
  • Be straightforward: There’s no room for subtlety in an op-ed piece.
  • Keep it short: 600-750 is the word limit; also, use short sentences and short paragraphs, with each one of your paragraphs offering evidence to support your point.
  • Make your point: Preferably in the first paragraph.
  • Provide answers: Consider the questions readers are likely to have, and answer them.
  • Offer anecdotes: Personal stories can help make your point.
  • Present Solutions: Wrap up by recommending fixes for problems you identify.
  • Get it done while the news is fresh: Give yourself one day only to complete your piece.
  • You know best: Use your own area of expertise to hook into the current news topic.
  • Different is good: Humorous asides, unexpected perspectives, quirky approaches are welcome.



In appreciation of their generous support, the UMass Public Engagement Project would like to thank the Office of the ProvostUniversity Relations, and the Colleges of Natural SciencesSocial and Behavioral Sciences Humanities and Fine ArtsEngineeringPublic Health and Health Sciences, and Education.  The UMass Public Engagement Project also recognizes and appreciates in-kind contributions and collaborations with the Center for Research on Families and the Institute for Social Science Research