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Writing Tips:

  1. Use the news—make a link between your idea or topic and the greater conversation. If a news hook isn't readily available, find another way to link your idea with what's current, fresh, and on the public radar. Point out a trend or connect your piece to newly released data. Or, use a holiday or an anniversary of an event.
  2. Research and report—even if you are writing about a personal experience, there's no substitute for doing your homework.
  3. Write Fast. News is fleeting. If you're responding to a headline you'll have a few hours or at most a few days to get your op-ed published, before the moment passes.
  4. Write in plain language.
  5. Think like your reader. Never underestimate your reader's intelligence, but never overestimate his/her level of information.
  6. Recognize that your average reader isn't an expert in your topic, and that it's up to you to make clear why it matters.
  7. Think about the significance of your topic, and the results you'd like to achieve. The Op-Ed page is a place where writing can change the world. What change do you want to see? Write it.

Classroom Navigation

Voices of Our Future Classroom

Security Online and Offline

Module 3
Citizen Journalism Learning Materials
Section 3-1
Section 3-2
Section 3-3
Section 3-3, continued
Section 3-4
Section 3-4, continued

Learning Materials with Pixetell
Digital Media Learning Materials
Digital Media Learning Materials, continued
Wellness Video

Module 3 Writing Assignment

Correspondents and Mentors Group


Section 3-2: How to Structure Your Op-Ed

Op-eds don't have to follow any one structure, but it helps to know what formats typically work well. Below are a few tips on structure. This is not a formula; just one way of approaching the form.

  • An op-ed usually begins with an attention-grabbing lead, which can be as short as a few words, or as long as several paragraphs—but remember, an op-ed is short, so the lead usually is, too.
  • The lead is often built around a news hook, such as a newsworthy event, an ongoing event, concern, or topic that is currently in the news, newly released data, or an upcoming anniversary.
  • Your thesis—that is, a statement of your opinion or argument—usually comes next. It can be explicit or implicit.
  • Evidence: Following the lead, you'll present evidence to back up your opinion or argument—this should be the bulk of your op-ed. Your "evidence" might include statistics, expert quotes, personal experience or anecdotes, and citations of scholarly works.
  • A "to be sure" paragraph often appears right before your conclusion—here's where you can directly address the obvious counter-arguments to your position. You can do this either by acknowledging their validity, or by explaining why you think they don't hold water.
  • A conclusion should wrap up what you've said, and send your reader forward: What should be done about a problem? Or how should we change our thinking? Often a conclusion will refer back to the op-ed's lead ("book-ending" your piece).

Materials created by The OpEd Project exclusively for World Pulse.

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