The threats to the Wasatch, to our watersheds, to the places that inspire our rapidly growing communities and the generations that will surely follow,  are intense, complex, and need attention. What they need perhaps most of all is unity. We can show unity in a variety of ways by: attending a Save Our Canyons event, attending a public meeting, signing a petition, volunteering with our organization, or writing a Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed showing support for protecting the wildness and beauty of the Wasatch Mountains, canyons, and foothills.

What is an Op-Ed and LTE?

An Op-Ed is a relatively short piece of writing 500 to 750 words that appears opposite the editorial page (Op-Ed) in print media. Online sources have Op-Eds too (i.e. The Huffington Post, CNN, Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, and more).  A letter to the editor (LTE) is shorter than an Op-Ed with about 200 words and typically does not contain as much evidence.

How do you write an Op-Ed and LTE?

Trying to figure out where to start in the Op-Ed or LTE process is often the hardest thing. Writing an LTE should be short and sweet just like taking a hike up Doughnut Falls. Within your LTE make sure you:

  1. State the Topic
  2. Explain why you don’t agree with it, including supporting facts
  3. Tell what you would like to see happen or suggestion
  4. Finish with a reference to the beginning and call to action

An Op-Ed is totally different than an LTE because you have triple the words to prove your point and the writing style is different than most articles. Most Op-Eds follow this kind of structure:

  1. Lede: This is the introduction section of your Op-Ed; it is intended to entice the reader into reading the full story. It is normally the first one or two paragraphs, 3 to 6 sentences in length. It tells the reader the “who, what, when, where” of your topic.
  2. Conclusion: This is the “why” or “why care” part of your Op-Ed. Yes, the conclusion may seem out of place based on writing approaches drilled into you during your education process, but you do need to bring the conclusion more to the front for Op-Eds. It is normally 1 to 2 paragraphs or 2 to 5 sentences in length. In many cases, authors will use a one-sentence paragraph to emphasize a particular aspect of the conclusion to ensure that the reader gives the idea more attention.
  3. Evidence: This is normally 3 to 6 paragraphs in length. The paragraphs, while still short compared to more standard writing styles, are often a bit longer than those from the Lede and Conclusion. This is because you are discussing examples and presenting expert statements that support your Conclusion. Concentrate on policies rather than people. There will be some educational aspect to your Op-Ed; however, be sure to live by the “show, don’t tell” mantra. Also, translate statistics into grounded numbers that can be easily digested by your reader. Avoid using jargon, but if you must use jargon, pause to quickly define—in two short sentences or less—the term and get back to your argument.
  4. Walk-off: This is where you explain how to go forward. All Op-Eds should be forward looking. That is, don’t just explain that there is some problem to which we should find a solution. Offer a possible solution. This is normally 1 to 3 paragraphs or 3 to 6 sentences in length.

Where do you send an Op-Ed/LTE and what’s included?

Letters must include the signature, full name, address, phone number and email address (if available) of the author for verification purposes. Only the name and city will be published.

Salt Lake Tribune


Deseret News


Sample Op-Ed and LTE