Thanks to Preeti Kulkarni for contributing to this article.
Now that you have reached the end of your op-ed journey, we have compiled a list of things to check before you send in your op-ed.
- Know your argument and express it clearly. The whole point of an op-ed is to illustrate YOUR opinion on the subject. If you’re writing about something in the news cycle, people already know quite a bit about the topic. Use your voice and evidence to support your own claim.
- Be aware of your tone. When writing, you must maintain a consistent tone throughout your piece to give the reader a sense of clarity. We talked about deciding on a tone in “How to Have a Strong Voice.”
- Check the hooks and topic sentences in each paragraph. Are these sentences engaging or boring? If you were a reader, would you read on? A good tip for testing these sentences— and the whole op-ed— is to read it aloud. Reading your op-ed to someone else can also help you check these sentences.
- Frame the issue quickly. Make sure that the readers understand what the problem is by writing about it within the first three paragraphs. Ideally, you would convey this in your first paragraph.
- Do a thorough grammar and plagiarism check. Doing a proper grammar check includes checking the punctuation, verb agreement, tense, and more. While doing your grammar check, be on the lookout for passive voice. Many writers fall into writing in a passive voice, so it is vital to steer clear of it. Programs like Grammarly make a grammar check much easier and can also check for plagiarism, which is absolutely essential.
- Check your word count. Different news outlets require different word counts, but a safe number to start with is between 600‒800 words. Depending on the newspaper, you may have to lengthen or cut down your article. Your writing should be concise, so use short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Cite your sources. Plagiarism is one of the most important things to look out for. When using quote integration or even paraphrasing, it is important to cite your sources. You can provide a link or an endnote for each source.
- Fact-check what you have written. You need to make sure everything you say is inarguable. With corroborated facts, you will establish credibility, which is essential when writing an op-ed. If you are not already an expert in your topic, using verified facts will help you stand out as someone knowledgeable.
- Be original. Avoid clichés. People don’t want to read something they have already seen before. Make sure the op-ed uses readable language and connects to people with relatable references and words.
- When writing a rebuttal, take on the opposing side’s strongest argument. Doing so will not only showcase your talent but will also help your readers come up with their own educated opinion.
- Avoid curse words at all costs. Using curse words in your writing only makes you look juvenile. Be relatable but don’t be crude.
- Read other op-eds. To get a solid idea of your competition, what has already been said on a topic, and how you can improve on your own op-ed, you need to read. Also, reading other op-eds from the news outlet you want to publish with can be a great way to understand what they’re looking for.
- Check submission guidelines. If your op-ed does not fit the submission guidelines, you will not be published! Our article “How to Pitch an Op-Ed” has links to a list of submission guidelines compiled by the Op-Ed Project. Please take a look at this source. It is priceless.
There you have it, a final checklist before you pitch your op-ed! Remember that publishing your first op-ed takes time. You may not find the perfect news outlet right away, which is entirely normal. If an editor does like your op-ed, keep revising it based on feedback. An editor is there for a reason, and no op-ed is perfect. The feedback that you receive will be invaluable to your growth as a writer. With all of this in mind, good luck, we are so proud of you for writing an op-ed! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Dweebs Global. We will set you up with a journalism mentor to help you with any questions you may have.