These tips are based on materials developed by the OpEd Project (theopedproject.org).
Basic Op-Ed Structure
Compelling or Colorful Lede: Ideally base your introductory thought and sentences around a news hook.
Thesis: Introduce the main argument of the piece toward the top of the oped.
Argument Based on Evidence: Stats, news, reports from credible organizations, expert quotes, research, history, first-hand experience.
- 1st Point: Evidence, Evidence, Conclusion
- Transition, followed by 2nd Point: Evidence, Evidence, Conclusion
- Transition, followed by 3rd Point: Evidence, Evidence, Conclusion
- Note: The body need not be formulaic; it’s most important that the body offer some EXPOSITION OF THE ARGUMENT with SUPPORTING EVIDENCE.
“To Be Sure” Argument: Preempt potential critics by acknowledging any flaws in the argument, and/or addresses any obvious counter-arguments.
Kicker/Conclusion: Often circles back to your lede — and may offer thoughts on how to solve a problem the piece outlines. Like the lede, it should be clear and pithy.
Key Questions for Op-Eds
- What’s the the main idea? How long does it take to get there?
- What’s the news peg/hook? Why should people care about this now?
- What standing does the author have on this issue? Is s/he an expert, or does s/he have personal experience of it?
- Does the piece offer a fresh argument — one that’s not obvious/consistently talked about? Is it surprising/counterintuitive or does it offer new information — or at least synthesize it in a new way?
- Does the piece follow a logical argument? Does it make sense or is it a struggle to understand?
- Does it have supporting evidence for its argument?
- Could a broad audience understand this piece, or is it full of technical jargon or inside baseball references?
- If it outlines a problem, what’s its solution?
- Wait, how long is this thing?