Writing an Op-Ed

One way to share your well-reasoned opinion with others is through an Op Ed. These were originally so named because they appeared opposite the staff editorials in a newspaper, but the format and structure works well in today’s longer-form opportunities like blog posts.

Here’s how they work.

What it includes

An Op Ed is usually around 750 words. It can shorter, and often, shorter is more powerful. It has both a clear topic and a clear angle. The topic is what you are writing about, the angle what you want the reader to think when you are finished. Although they are written to express an opinion, that opinion needs to be bolstered by adequate research. This can be traditional library/Internet secondary research, but can also be interviews with important constituents or even data you collect yourself.

Who it’s for

They are best when you have a clear idea of your audience. Ask yourself:

  • Who are you trying to persuade?
  • What do they already think about the issue?
  • What do they already know about the issue?
  • What kind of evidence will be be convincing to them?

How to write it

Introduction – This is where you hook the reader into wanting to find out more about what you think. You could use a surprising fact, an audacious claim, or lay out a mystery. The trick is to make the reader want more. In the introduction, you also state your view on your topic and develop your theme.

Body – Here you want 3 or 4 key points that support your view. Typically, you will want to state your point, offer evidence, then summarize how the evidence supports your point.

Address critics – Here you acknowledge potential valid criticisms of your view.

Conclusion – Here you wrap up your main point and state, concisely, what it is that you want your reader to believe and/or do with the information you have provided.

Learn more:

New York Times editors on how they select the Op Eds from the 1200 they receive a week

A more detailed outline of Op Ed format

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