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Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs

Op-Ed Writing Guide

What is an op-ed?

“Op-ed” is an abbreviation of “opposite the editorial page” – the space where newspapers typically publish analytical and explanatory articles called “op-eds” on issues of current interest, written by experts and community members. McMaster authors appear regularly in regional, national and international publications.

Why write an op-ed?

Reach a wider audience

Contribute to the public dialogue

Bring recognition to yourself and your department to increase funding and collaboration

Increase overall awareness of McMaster's research, expertise and public value

Tips for writing an op-ed:

  • Make it timely and relevant. Connect your piece to an issue in the news or deliver it in anticipation of a major event.
  • Focus on one main idea. Stick to the message throughout your piece and convince readers of why they should care.
  • Have a strong viewpoint. Make your piece lively and provocative.
  • Be personal and conversational. You want to capture and hold your reader’s interest.
  • Keep it simple. Write in a clear, straightforward way using language everyone can understand. Avoid jargon and technical language.
  • State your call to action. If you are writing about a problem, propose a solution.
  • Be concise. Keep it between 650 and 800 words, with an optimal length of 700 to 750 words.

Tips for submitting an op-ed:

  • Send an email including your full name, contact information. Briefly state your credentials and summarize the piece in one or two sentences. Paste the text of your piece into the bottom of the email and include it as an attachment.
  • Specify “Op-ed Submission” in the subject line.
  • Submissions must be exclusive to one media outlet, so avoid sending your piece to a second publication until you have been declined by the first one.
  • The media reserve the right to edit, condense, or reject any contribution.