Knowing how to write an op-ed is essential for any writer, reporter, or journalist. Originally getting its name from “opposite the editorial”, opinion pieces can be a very tricky task, but when done correctly, can come across as very informational and riveting. If you are looking for an easy guide on how to write an op-ed, keep reading along.
What is an Op-Ed?
Op-eds are important because they showcase different points of view and distinguish diverse perspectives throughout topics. Typically written by columnists, op-eds are used to showcase not only the opinion of the author but the publication as well. They are typically shorter in length, less than 1,000 words, and are generally on the more illustrative side with pictures and graphs. They also always have a clearly defined point. When writing, if your argument feels flat, it may not be time to submit.
They can appear in both print and online versions of newspapers or other published sources.
Anyone can submit an op-ed, in fact, many news sources have an open submission box to invite writers of all backgrounds to submit their opinion pieces. That doesn’t mean it will automatically get published but anyone can submit one to major news outlets for consideration. This helps to keep news diverse with many different perspectives.
5 Steps to Writing an Op-Ed
1. Make an Argument
The first thing you have to do when beginning to write your op-ed is to make sure you have a legitimate argument. You want to state key opinions from both your and your publication’s perspective rather than simply summarizing your argument.
For example, an op-ed about the best superfood being seaweed rather than kale would feature reasons and examples for why seaweed is better than kale in regards to a superfood’s nutrients and benefits.
2. Get Personal
Getting personal on an opinion piece can be tricky, but essential. When done correctly, you can bring personal but not revealing anecdotes while involving real-world events to keep it relevant. It’s important to remember that a personal essay is not an op-ed because it’s not all about you. But, it is about your specific feelings.
All column pieces can be personal because of the chase to bring new readers in, and the acknowledgment that each person reading is a real person. Whether they grab a paper from a stand on the corner or they log into a newspaper online, they are real people reading words by other real people.
3. Connect to Current Events
A great way to draw readers in is to connect your op-ed with events that are already happening across their tv screens at home while watching the news. There will always be something new happening which makes writing op-eds so exciting.
4. Know Your Audience
In this step, you will want to start tailoring your op-ed to the audience you are trying to reach while you begin your editing process. If you are not sure who you want to reach with your op-ed now is the time to research and have a game plan in place. This does not mean changing your opinions, it just means knowing the verbiage to use with different audiences to best appeal to them.
5. Before Hitting Submit: Check your facts and citations
Although this is an opinion piece, there still needs to be facts in place to support your argument. You will also want to avoid plagiarism of any kind since this will be published. If you are unsure, ask your editor if applicable. Or, throw in a citation from a credible source relating to your content just to be safe.
It’s also important to always proofread any written works no matter how simple or free-flowing they felt to write. Grammar and spelling will always be important to double and triple-check during and after writing.
Writing an Op-Ed can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience whether you are an experienced writer or just getting started in the industry. Now that you know the basics, you can feel confident writing one of your own.
Adeline is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she majored in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and Journalism. Currently living in Charlotte, she enjoys reading, volleyball, and strolling through her favorite farmers markets with her Goldendoodle Theo.