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A letter to the editor is a factual letter relating to a recent article in a newspaper or magazine. Readers send their letter to the author expressing their opinion on the article.

The journalistic letter to the editor has certain characteristics: it always reacts to an article in the newspaper.

In both cases – in the school essay and in the newspaper – the letter to the editor can criticize, comment on, supplement or refute the article.

How do I write a letter to the Editor?

Seven steps to the perfect letter to the editor:

  1. Read the article you are writing your letter to carefully.
  2. Write down the most important statements of the article. Think about how you feel about the topic.
  3. Start writing with the salutation.
  4. Explain what article you are referring to and why you are writing the letter to the editor.
  5. Formulate your opinion in the main part. Justify them with logical arguments and examples.
  6. Finally, summarize your wish for the author.
  7. Don’t forget the salutation and your signature.

To write the perfect letter to the editor, you can use our checklist as a guide:

  • Stay polite and use the factual style! Just imagine that you are not writing the letter to a friend but to a stranger.
  • In a letter to the editor you state your own opinion. Think about how you feel about the topic before you start writing.
  • To make your opinion understandable for other readers, you work out an outline. This will ensure that your argument follows a clear pattern.
  • Are you currently working on your outline? Very well! Then think of suitable arguments and examples that you can use to make your opinion even clearer.

Tip: Part of the factual style is that you address the reader with “Sie”. Avoid slang, such as your article is really badly written. Instead, write: What I didn’t like about your article was that…

Letter to the Editor – Structure

Letters to the editor vary greatly in length and structure. For German lessons, you can use the following structure as a guide:

  1. Salutation
  2. Introduction
    2.1 Reference to the article: title, text type, publication date, category, topic
    2.2 Author’s opinion
  3. Main part
    3.1 Personal concern, the reason for the letter to the editor
    3.2 own opinion
    3.3 Argument(s) with example(s), counter-argument(s)
    3.4 Please
  4. Conclusion
    4.1 Solution proposal/request
    4.2 Greeting

Write a letter to the Editor – Salutation

When addressing yourself, it is best to use the letter formula: Dear Mr…./Dear Ms… If you cannot find out the name of the author, it is also sufficient: Dear Sir or Madam…

Writing a letter to the Editor – Introduction

In the introduction, you refer to the article that you want to comment on. Your letter to the editor must contain the following information about the article:

  • Title of the article
  • Text type: e.g. E.g. report, message, reportage, commentary
  • Release date
  • Theme
  • Category: e.g. B. local, culture, sports

If you have given the most important information about the article in the introductory sentence, you briefly summarize the opinion of the author. A rough overview will suffice.

To set a focus, it is best to refer to the relevant section again, e.g. like this:

Letter to the Editor Example – Introduction: In your article, you mainly dealt with the … and in the main part you dealt in particular with…

Write a letter to the Editor – Main part

In the Main part, the reader wants to know why you are reacting to the newspaper article. You can express your personal concern e.g. show like this:

Letter to the Editor Example – Main part: Because I am directly affected as a student at the comprehensive school, I know exactly what kind of difficulties we are facing due to …

Then you briefly present your point of view on the topic of the newspaper article. It is important that you do not present your opinion as fact. To make this comprehensible, you use convincing arguments.

You support each argument with a rationale and an example. In order for this to succeed, you stick to your outline!

At the end of the main part, you formulate a request or wish for the author.

Tip for professionals:  Do you want to write a particularly good letter to the editor? Then work with counter arguments.

So you think about in advance what objections someone might have to your letter to the editor. Your argument will only be convincing if you sensibly refute these objections.

Write a letter to the Editor – Conclusion

You can keep the ending short. One or two sentences will suffice. The goal here is to draw a logical conclusion from the arguments in your body.

This means that you are proposing a solution to the reader’s problem or making a wish.

Example of a letter to the Editor – Conclusion: For the future, I would like …

Important

Don’t forget the salutation and your signature. For a factual letter, this is usually Yours sincerely.

Letter to the Editor – Example

Do you already recognize all the parts of the letter to the editor while reading? You can find a little help in the legend below.

Dear Mr. Michelsen,

I read with great interest your report “Everything is standing still” from January 25, 2022, about school closures across Germany in the “Local” section. They describe in detail the difficulties that teachers have had in recent weeks due to distance learning and arouse sympathy in the reader for their situation.

As I myself am a 9th-grade student at a Nuremberg Realschule, I know from my own experience how difficult the situation is for us students at the moment. Because your article looks at the situation one-sidedly from the teacher’s point of view, I would like to present my student’s point of view. Shortly before graduation, the pressure on us students is increasing.

Not everyone has the same opportunities to learn at home. For example, some of my school friends don’t have their own laptop or their own room to be able to concentrate on their work.

In your article, it seems as if an entire page – we students – is being forgotten. If you quote the school director: “It is a great challenge for us teachers”, then the same applies to us students!

I would therefore wish that you would take a more critical look at the situation and take both sides into account. As the student representative, I would also be happy to volunteer for an interview.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Müller

 Insider tips 

  • Thorough revision before the submission is mandatory! Take another ten minutes to review the following points:
    • Spelling, Orthography
    • Punctuation
    • Completeness of your information in the introduction
    • Logic of your arguments
  • You want to write a particularly convincing letter to the editor? Try it with stylistic devices! You can achieve a lot with direct addresses to the reader, requests, and rhetorical questions.

In a Nutshell

Above mentioned details are sufficient for writing a letter to the editor. The letter has four parts Salutation, Introduction, Main part, and Conclusion. Your letter should give a more formal look and you should avoid using slangs anywhere.

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