Letters to the Editor

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When to write a letter to the editor (LTE):

  • Your time: somewhat limited.
  • Your desire: to agree with or refute an article you’ve just read.

Checklist – Letters to the Editor (LTEs):

  • Keep it short. Newspapers have limited space, so try to keep your LTE below the word limit (usually ~150 words).
  • Be relevant, be local. Newspapers publish content that is local, relevant, and specific. Include specific examples related to your work and local influences on or consequences of the issue.
  • Follow a simple format. Your LTE should be composed of only a few sentences of lead, supporting examples, and conclusion. (See the figure “Anatomy of an LTE” for specifics.)
  • Include your contact information and affiliations. At the end of your letter, include your personal information (title, university or other affiliation, means of contact, physical address). Please mention you’re an AGU member!
  • Don’t be discouraged. Newspapers receive hundreds of LTEs weekly and can publish only a very few, but they still take note of how many are submitted on each issue. Also, newspapers often publish LTEs on each “side” of an issue; don’t be surprised if your LTE is published next to one disagreeing with you.
  • Make your voice heard. If your LTE is published, consider sending a copy to your legislator and/or other affected parties in your state.

More Information—LTEs:

Anatomy of an LTE. Like sharks, LTEs are streamlined.

SC_Anatomy-of-an-LTE_For-Op-ed-sub-page-under-More-Information-LTE1Writing a letter to the editor provides you with the opportunity to bring your voice and expertise to bear on an important issue whose representation in the news either has  been lacking or needs support. It allows you to highlight the importance and relevance of Earth and space science in your community. Writing LTEs is also a good way to make yourself visible in your community as an informed, engaged, and accessible expert on scientific issues—which is why it’s important that over time you continue to write letters about scientific topics in the news.

Letters to the editor can be submitted by anyone, though not all letters that are submitted will be printed. Your letter should offer a personal opinion on a specific issue that has (or, specifically, has not) been covered by the outlet.

LTE Examples:

AGU’s LTE Template will provide you with a framework from which you can design your own LTE.