Resources for Advocates

Writing and Developing Op-Eds

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These tips are based on materials developed by the OpEd Project (

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?