How to Write an Op-Ed

Recommendations for Writing an Op-Ed

If you have more time and more to say, consider writing an op-ed. Most newspapers accept submissions for op-eds (opinion columns) of varying lengths (check submission guidelines for word count). Newspapers are only able to print a handful of op-eds each day. Here are some tips to help yours get published and be as effective as possible.

  • Timeliness is key: if there is a hot topic in the news, don't wait to offer your opinion.
  • Make sure you have a clear argument and you state it explicitly in one sentence. Remember that readers may not be giving their newspaper full attention–they may be reading over breakfast or just skimming the op-ed page.
  • Don't use jargon and field-specific words or ideas. Most readers will not be familiar with your area of study, or even with concepts such as "shared governance' and "academic freedom." Make sure what you are talking about is clearly defined.
  • Explain why your argument is relevant to the reader. You could write, for example, that political interference in a local university affects the reputation and the economy of the entire community as attacks on higher ed impact recruitment and retention of faculty. 
  • Include contact information. Most papers will verify before they publish.


  • Read submission requirements carefully
  • Try to call or discuss the opinion piece with the editor before submitting
  • Clearly connect the piece with current news or controversy
  • Keep the most important message at the top
  • Include a strong personal or compelling story to hook readers
  • Clearly explain issue for layman readers

Read some sample op-eds here.