An op-ed, or opinion editorial, is a narrative essay that presents the writer's opinion or thoughts about an issue. Op-eds can raise awareness about a particular topic or aim to persuade others, and can substantiate the writer as an expert on a subject.
Op-eds are most commonly published in daily newspapers. They are typically 600–700 words, but can be shorter. Some op-eds are written by newspaper staff or syndicated writers. Many are submitted by the publication's readers.
Writing an Op-Ed
Start with a sentence. Try to sum up your opinion in a single sentence to begin, then think about facts and anecdotes to support your initial point.
Forget objectivity. An op-ed is about your opinion and perspective. Think of it like a legal brief; no need for objectivity. Put your argument forward in a persuasive, authoritative manner. Don't be afraid to be passionate in arguing your point.
Be informal. Write as if you are debating with a friend. Use simple, every day language that is easy to understand. Keep in mind you are writing for a general audience that may not be as familiar with your subject as you are.
Keep it short and simple. State your opinion clearly and quickly, back it up with facts and examples, then finish up. If your op-ed is longer than 700 words, editors likely will not consider using it. The News Office can help you revise, rewrite or edit your manuscript.
The Basic Op-Ed Format
Lead paragraph: Try to grab readers right away with your first sentence; make them want to read more. Start with an interesting story or example that encapsulates your point.
Supporting paragraphs: Now that you've stated your point and grabbed readers' attention, build on your lead with facts, statistics and anecdotes.
Wrap it up: In the concluding paragraph, take your argument a step further and leave readers with information about what needs to be done next. If you're trying to move people to action, be sure to answer the question, "What can I do?" Make the final sentence as compelling as the first one. If you started with an example, bring the story full circle by referencing your original point.
Submitting an Op-Ed
The News Office can do that for you. Or, simply turn to the op-ed page in the publication of your choice and submit your piece using the e-mail address listed there. Be certain to include your name, the title or affiliation that substantiates your expertise on the issue and a daytime telephone number.