The Editorial Essay Format

An editorial is a newspaper article that expresses one's opinion. An editorial can be about any topic, but is usually written about an issue that deals with our society. To build credibility, the opinion in the editorial must be backed up with facts and evidence to substantiate your opinion.

The facts and evidence must be gone through extensively to find the point of view you want to argue. With a point of view through an editorial piece, issues are given solutions that could be rendered to solve the actual problem at hand. A newspaper editorial may seem hard to write; but, initiative and passion about an issue gives you, the writer, the inside knowledge of making editorial writing easier.

Steps for Writing Newspaper Editorials

There are several different steps you need to follow in order to be successful when writing an editorial: 

Choosing a Topic

The topic you choose is the most important part in writing a newspaper editorial. The best topics are those that are current issues among our society. If the topic is a current issue that everyone is already interested in then your editorial piece will engage reader’s attention.

If the topic you choose is an ongoing issue in our society, make sure to use the most recent information. However, you can use older information as sources to help prove your case. Do not make your editorial a controversial topic, unless that is that is your whole reason for writing it in the first place. 

Choosing Your Opinion

You need to ask yourself, are you for or against the issue you have chosen as your topic for your newspaper editorial piece. You can not be on both sides of the fence when writing an editorial piece. The purpose for the editorial is to give your opinion, the writer’s opinion. With this in mind you must give a strong opinion, if not readers will not be as inclined to see your point of view.

Outline Your Editorial

Oh, the dreaded outline. With any type of research paper you have to do an outline. This is one of the biggest tips on writing newspaper editorial format that you should always follow. With an outline you know where you stand on the issue. The outline helps you, the writer, get your thoughts and opinions in order. The outline also helps you discover any swaying of opinions you may have missed by just diving head first into writing.

Writing Your Article

The first step to writing your newspaper editorial is to pick a headline that grabs reader’s attention. If you grab their attention from the very beginning they are more inclined to keep reading. Your opinion on the topic should be addressed in the introduction to your new editorial.

Newspaper editorials should have at least three arguments. These arguments of course should be backed up with facts and evidence from your research of the topic.

Other tips for writing editorials are:

  • Use statistics to help prove your argument.
  • Make sure your strongest argument is left for last.
  • Do not be passive in the arguments that come before the strongest. If this happens you are most likely not going to have readers reading your entire newspaper editorial.

Conclusion of Article

In a newspaper editorial, and with most anything else you write, your conclusion should sum up all the information you wrote about. The conclusion should be tied up into a neat little package so as to let readers get a recap of all the facts that you presented in your editorial.

Your conclusion should also have a few solutions you think would help with the issue at hand. You are getting the reader to engage in asking him or herself questions on how they stand on the particular issue in our society.

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Tips on Writing Newspaper Editorial Format

By YourDictionary

An editorial is a newspaper article that expresses one's opinion. An editorial can be about any topic, but is usually written about an issue that deals with our society. To build credibility, the opinion in the editorial must be backed up with facts and evidence to substantiate your opinion.

How to Write an Editorial

Kevin Parrish, Opinion Page editor at The Record, says he essentially looks for four things when choosing opinion pieces to run in the paper. Many other newspapers have similar guidelines:

  • The Op-ed (opinion editorial) is current and timely, meaning it is based on recent news stories that were published within the past week or so.

  • The Op-ed has a local angle and is relevant to readers in the publication’s circulation area (although this is not required, but it is a plus).

  • The Op-ed runs no more than 800 words or less, about 600 is ideal.

  • The Op-ed is clearly written, using simple language and not much jargon or academic language, and uses correct grammar and punctuation.

Usually editors prefer the Op-eds come straight from the media relations staff to make sure any opinion pieces being submitted meet these guidelines. And we often have contacts that are vital in ensuring the pieces are published. Please submit your final drafts to us and we will forward them to the editorial staff at  The Record or any other publication you plan to pursue. 

Here are other suggestions by national media consultant Randell Kennedy, who works with the Office of Marketing and University Relations in getting national press coverage:

  • An op-ed needs to clearly state its argument or thesis in the first or second paragraph and should then back up that argument with compelling, informed opinion.

  • As the 24-hour news cycle picks up speed, the analysis of news stories is more immediate than ever. Good op-eds speak to what's hot now; the best ones identify an issue before it becomes a topic in the news.

  • The subject matter should, in most cases, be relevant to a professor's academic area. However, a psychology professor can certainly write a piece on a business topic, or a political science professor can tackle a social trend, if they make a compelling and credible argument.

  • An op-ed is not a forum in which to philosophize or to celebrate the "gray areas" of a controversial topic. This is the time to come down clearly on one side of an issue. Remember: it's all about informed opinion.

  • Op-eds can be co-authored - if it makes sense for a specific piece to have two authors. Multiple co-authors should be avoided in drafting op-eds and left to "letters-to-the-editor" submissions.

  • A good op-ed needs to contain at least one "point of enlightenment" which has often been described as "an observation that is fresh and original."

  • Although some Sunday opinion pages and special commentary forums publish pieces in the 1200-word range, it is best to keep an op-ed under 750 words in length. An excellent and hard-hitting short piece in the 600-word ballpark is often a winner.

  • If an op-ed openly criticizes current policies, it should provide clear and compelling solutions.

  • Keep punctuation simple. Avoid using exclamation points in an op-ed piece.

  • Perhaps the most common complaint among opinion page editors who receive many submissions from colleges and universities is that they are often filled with discipline-specific jargon. Help potential op-ed authors on your campus realize that they should not attempt to make the reader "work" to understand their point.

  • The target readership is a general newspaper audience comprised of people from many walks of life. The piece should be written with this general audience in mind. And remember: a good op-ed piece ends with a hard-hitting summary or a thoughtful final point.

Randell J. Kennedy is president of Academy Communications, a national communications consulting agency specializing in higher education. For nearly 20 years, he has worked in the media and with colleges and universities across the country, showcasing their people and programs to national and regional news media. Kennedy has provided extensive media-relations, crisis communications and editorial services to dozens of America's best colleges, universities and educational foundations. His op-ed placements for college presidents and faculty members include all of the nation's major-circulation daily newspapers.

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