National Breast Cancer Coalition

Letters to the Editor

A letter to the editor will respond either in favor of or in opposition to a story written about breast cancer. Letters to the editor communicate your opinion about the issue. These letters are most often written by local concerned citizens and are not necessarily from an organization, though it is not unusual for a letter to come from an organization. If you are writing on behalf of an organization, be sure to include the name of your organization and your role.

Newspapers receive lots of letters to the editor. The more people who send letters to the editor on one topic, the better chance that one will get printed.

The best way to get a letter to the editor printed is to respond to a recent news story—if possible, submit your letter the day the article appears. However, some smaller papers will print letters on any topic of interest to the local community. Check out the letters in your local paper to find out the styles they print.

An effective letter to the editor will:

  • Reference the title, date and author of the original piece in your opening sentence (again, most newspapers only publish letters in response to articles, but check your newspaper's letters section; some smaller papers accept letters on any topic, even if it was not mentioned in a previous printed article).
  • State your most important point in the first paragraph.
  • Be between 100 and 200 words, shorter is better. Many newspapers restrict the number of words they will accept. Be sure to check your newspaper’s requirements. It’s usually printed in the Letters to the Editor section.
  • Include your name, city, state and affiliation as well as contact information (day and evening).