How To Write An Editorial (7 Easy Steps, Examples, & Guide)
Writing an editorial is one of those things that sounds like it should be pretty straightforward. Easy, even.
But then you sit down to start typing. Your fingers freeze over the keyboard. You gaze into the perfectly blank white space of your computer screen.
Wait , you think. How do I write an editorial ?
Here’s how to write an editorial:
- Choose a newsworthy topic (Something with broad interest)
- Choose a clear purpose (This will guide your entire process)
- Select an editorial type (Opinion, solution, criticism, persuasive, etc)
- Gather research (Facts, quotes, statistics, etc)
- Write the editorial (Using an Editorial Template that includes an introduction, argument, rebuttal, and conclusion)
- Write the headline (Title)
- Edit your editorial (Grammar, facts, spelling, structure, etc)
In this article, we’ll go through each of these steps in detail so that you know exactly how to write an editorial.
What Is an Editorial? (Quick Definition)
Before we jump into the mechanics of how to write an editorial, it’s helpful to get a good grasp on the definition of editorials.
Here is a simple definition to get us started:
An editorial is a brief essay-style piece of writing from a newspaper, magazine, or other publication. An editorial is generally written by the editorial staff, editors, or writers of a publication.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than simply dashing out an essay.
There is the purpose, different types of editorials, elements of a good editorial, structure, steps to writing an editorial, and the actual mechanics of writing your editorial.
“In essence, an editorial is an opinionated news story.” – Alan Weintraut
What Is the Purpose of an Editorial?
The purpose of an editorial is to share a perspective, persuade others of your point of view, and possibly propose a solution to a problem.
The most important part is to pick one purpose and stick to it.
Rambling, incoherent editorials won’t do. They won’t get you the results or the response you might want.
When it comes to purpose, you want:
- Singular focus
- Personal connection
The first two probably make sense with no explanation. That last one (personal connection) deserves more attention.
The best editorials arise from personal passions, values, and concerns. You will naturally write with vigor and voice. Your emotion will find its way into your words.
Every bit of this will make your editorials instantly more compelling.
What Are the Different Types of Editorials?
There are two main types of editorials and a number of different subtypes.
One of the first steps in how to write an editorial is choosing the right type for your intended purpose or desired outcome.
The two main types of editorials:
In an opinion editorial, the author shares a personal opinion about a local or national issue.
The issue can be anything from local regulations to national human trafficking.
Typically, the topic of an editorial is related to the topics covered in the publication. Some publications, like newspapers, cover many topics.
In a solution editorial, the author offers a solution to a local or national problem.
It’s often recommended for the author of solution editorials to cite credible sources as evidence for the validity of the proposed solution (BTW, research is also important for opinion editorials).
There are also several editorial subtypes based on purpose:
- Explain (you can explain a person, place, or thing)
- Criticism (you can critically examine a person, place, or thing)
- Praise (celebrate a person, place, or thing)
- Defend (you can defend a person, place, or thing)
- Endorsement (support a person, place, or thing)
- Catalyst (for conversation or change)
How To Write an Editorial (7 Easy Steps)
As a reminder, you can write an editorial by following seven simple steps.
- Choose a topic
- Choose a purpose
- Select an editorial type
- Gather research
- Write the editorial
- Write the headline
- Edit your editorial
If you want a short, visual explanation of how to write an editorial, check out this video from a bona fide New York Times Editor:
1) Choose a Newsworthy Topic
How do you choose a topic for your editorial?
You have several options. Your best bet is to go with a topic about which you feel strongly and that has broad appeal.
Consider these questions:
- What makes you angry?
- What makes your blood boil?
- What gets you excited?
- What is wrong with your community or the world?
When you write from a place of passion, you imbue your words with power. That’s how to write an editorial that resonates with readers.
2) Choose a Purpose
The next step for how to write an editorial is to choose your purpose.
What do you want to accomplish with your editorial? What ultimate outcome do you desire? Answering these questions will both focus your editorial and help you select the most effective editorial type.
Remember: a best practice is honing in on one specific purpose.
Your purpose might be:
- To trigger a specific action (such as voting)
- To raise awareness
- To change minds on an issue
3) Select a type
Now it’s time to select the best editorial type for your writing. Your type should align with your purpose.
In fact, your purpose probably tells you exactly what kind of editorial to write.
First, determine which major type of editorial best fits your purpose. You can do this by asking yourself, “Am I giving an opinion or offering a solution?”
Second, select your subtype. Again, look to your purpose. Do you want to explain? Persuade? Endorse? Defend?
Select one subtype and stick to it.
4) Gather Research
Don’t neglect this important step.
The research adds value, trust, credibility, and strength to your argument. Think of research as evidence. What kind of evidence do you need?
You might need:
- Research findings
All of these forms of evidence strengthen your argument.
Shoot for a mix of evidence that combines several different variations. For example, include an example, some statistics, and research findings.
What you want to avoid:
- Quote, quote, quote
- Story, story, story
Pro tip: you can find research articles related to your topic by going to Google Scholar.
For other evidence, try these sources:
- US Census Bureau
- US Government
- National Bureau of Economic Research
You might also want to check with your local librarian and community Chamber of Commerce for local information.
5) Write Your Editorial
Finally, you can start writing your editorial.
Aim to keep your editorial shorter than longer. However, there is no set length for an editorial.
For a more readable editorial, keep your words and sentences short. Use simple, clear language. Avoid slang, acronyms, or industry-specific language.
If you need to use specialized language, explain the words and terms to the reader.
The most common point of view in editorials is first person plural. In this point of view, you use the pronouns “we” and “us.”
When writing your editorial, it’s helpful to follow an Editorial Template. The best templates include all of the essential parts of an editorial.
Here is a basic Editorial template you can follow:
Introduction Response/Reaction Evidence Rebuttal Conclusion
Here is a brief breakdown of each part of an editorial:
Introduction: The introduction is the first part of an editorial. It is where the author introduces the topic that they will be discussing. In an editorial, the author typically responds to a current event or issue.
Response/Reaction: The response/reaction is the part of the editorial where the author gives their opinion on the topic. They state their position and give reasons for why they believe what they do.
Evidence: The evidence is typically a series of facts or examples that support the author’s position. These can be statistics, quotations from experts, or personal experiences.
Rebuttal: The rebuttal is the part of the editorial where the author addresses any arguments or counter-arguments that may be raised against their position. They refute these arguments and offer additional evidence to support their point of view.
Conclusion: The conclusion is the last part of an editorial. It wraps up the author’s argument and provides a final statement on the topic.
6) Write The Headline
Your headline must be catchy, not clickbait. There’s a fine line between the two, and it’s not always a clear line.
Characteristics of a catchy headline:
- Makes the reader curious
- Includes at least one strong emotion
- Clearly reveals the subject of the editorial
- Short and sweet
- Doesn’t overpromise or mislead (no clickbait)
Your headline will either grab a reader’s attention or it will not. I suggest you spend some time thinking about your title. It’s that important. You can also learn how to write headlines from experts.
Use these real editorial headlines as a source of inspiration to come up with your own:
- We Came All This Way to Let Vaccines Go Bad in the Freezer?
- What’s the matter with Kansas?
- War to end all wars
- Still No Exit
- Zimbabwe’s Stolen Election
- Running out of time
- Charter Schools = Choices
Suggested read: How To Write an Autobiography
7) Edit Your Editorial
The final step is to edit and proofread your editorial.
You will want to check your editorial for typos, spelling, grammatical, and punctuation mistakes.
I suggest that you also review your piece for structure, tone, voice, and logical flaws.
Your editorial will be out in the public domain where any troll with a keyboard or smartphone (which, let’s be honest, is everyone) can respond to you.
If you’ve done your job, your editorial will strike a nerve.
You might as well assume that hordes of people might descend on your opinion piece to dissect every detail. So check your sources. Check the accuracy of dates, numbers, and figures in your piece.
Double-check the spelling of names and places. Make sure your links work.
Editorial Structures and Outlines
As you learn how to write an editorial, you have many choices.
One choice is your selection of structure.
There are several editorial structures, outlines, and templates. Choose the one that best fits your topic, purpose, and editorial type.
Every editorial will have a beginning, middle, and end.
Here are a few specific structures you can use:
- Problem, Solution, Call to Action
- Story, Message, Call to Action
- Thesis, Evidence, Recommendation
- Your View, Opposing Views, Conclusion
How Do You Start an Editorial?
A common way to start an editorial is to state your point or perspective.
Here are a few other ways to start your editorial:
- The problem
- Startling statement
- Tell a story
- Your solution
Other than the headline, the beginning of your editorial is what will grab your reader.
If you want to write an editorial that gets read, then you must write a powerful opening.
How Do You End an Editorial?
You can end with a call-to-action, a thoughtful reflection, or a restatement of your message.
Keep in mind that the end of your editorial is what readers will most likely remember.
You want your ending to resonate, to charge your reader with emotion, evidence, and excitement to take action.
After all, you wrote the editorial to change something (minds, policies, approaches, etc.).
In a few sections (see below), you will learn a few simple templates that you can “steal” to help you end your editorial. Of course, you don’t have to use the templates.
They are just suggestions.
Often, the best way to conclude is to restate your main point.
What Makes a Good Editorial?
Even if you learn how to write an editorial, it doesn’t mean the editorial will automatically be good. You may be asking, What makes a good editorial ?
A good editorial is clear, concise, and compelling.
Therefore, the best editorials are thought out with a clear purpose and point of view. What you want to avoid is a rambling, journal-type essay. This will be both confusing and boring to the reader.
That’s the last thing you want.
Here are some other elements of a good editorial:
- Clear and vivid voice
- Interesting point of view
- Gives opposing points of view
- Backed up by credible sources
- Analyzes a situation
“A good editorial is contemporary without being populist.” —Ajai Singh and Shakuntala Singh
How Do You Know If You’ve Written a Good Editorial?
Many people want to know how to tell if they have written a good editorial.
How do you know?
You can tell by the response you get from the readers. A good editorial sparks a community conversation. A good editorial might also result in some type of action based on the solution you propose.
An article by Ajai Singh and Shakuntala Singh in Mens Sana Monograph says this about good editorials:
It tackles recent events and issues, and attempts to formulate viewpoints based on an objective analysis of happenings and conflicting/contrary opinions. Hence a hard-hitting editorial is as legitimate as a balanced equipoise that reconciles apparently conflicting positions and controversial posturings, whether amongst politicians (in news papers), or amongst researchers (in academic journals).
Note that newsworthy events, controversy, and balance matter in editorials.
It’s also a best practice to include contradicting opinions in your piece. This lends credibility and even more balance to your peice.
Editorial Examples & Templates
As you write your own editorial, study the following example templates “stolen” from real editorials.
You can use these templates as “sentence starters” to inspire you to write your own completely original sentences.
Phrases for the beginning:
- It’s been two weeks since…
- Look no further than…
- The country can’t…
Phrases for the middle:
- That’s an astonishing failure
- It should never have come to this
- Other [counties, states, countries, etc.] are…
- Within a few days…
- Not everyone shares my [opinion, pessimism, optimism]
- Officials say…
Phrases for the end:
- Let’s commit to…
- If we can…we will…
Honestly, the best way to learn how to write an editorial is to read and study as many published editorials as possible. The more you study, the better you will understand what works.
Study more editorials at these links:
- New York Times editorials
- USA Today editorials
- The Washington Post
How To Write an Editorial for Students
Writing an editorial for students is virtually the same as writing an editorial at any other time.
However, your teacher or professor might give you specific instructions, guidelines, and restrictions. You’ll want to read all of these thoroughly, get clarity, and follow the “rules” as much as possible.
Writing an editorial is a skill that will come in handy throughout your life. Whether you’re writing a letter to the editor of your local paper or creating a post for your blog, being able to communicate your ideas clearly and persuasively is an important skill. Here are some tips to help you write an effective editorial:
- Know your audience. Who are you writing for? What are their concerns and interests? Keep this in mind as you craft your message.
- Make a clear argument. What is it that you want your readers to know? What do you want them to do? Be sure to state your case clearly and concisely.
- Support your argument with evidence. Use facts, statistics, and expert opinions to make your case.
- Use strong language . Choose words that will resonate with your readers and make them want to take action.
- Be persuasive, not blasting. You want your readers to be convinced by your argument, not turned off by aggressive language. Stay calm and collected as you make your case.
By following these tips, you can write an effective student editorial that will get results.
What Is an Editorial In a Newspaper?
The editorial section of a newspaper is where the publication’s editorial board weighs in on important issues facing the community. This section also includes columns from guest writers and staff members, as well as letters to the editor.
The editorial board is made up of the publication’s top editors, who are responsible for setting the tone and direction of the paper.
In addition to op-eds, the editorial section also features editorials, which are written by the editorial board and represent the official position of the paper on an issue.
While editorial boards may lean one way or another politically, they strive to present both sides of every issue in a fair and unbiased way.
Ultimately, the goal of the editorial section is to promote thoughtful discussion and debate on the topics that matter most to readers.
Final Thoughts: How To Write an Editorial
Whew , we have covered a lot of ground in this article. I hope that you have gained everything you need to know about how to write an editorial.
There are a lot of details that go into writing a good editorial.
If you get confused or overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. Know that many other writers have been there before, and have struggled with the same challenges.
Mostly, know that you got this .
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National Institute of Health (On Editorials)
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What Is A Good Editorial?
What are the qualities that distinguish a good editorial? Are there certain essential attributes? What should a good editorial do to a reader, and what not?
These are some crucial questions that every editor, editorial board member, journal and its policy makers should decide for themselves and their respective publications. To that extent it is individual, and some may consider it the internal matter of the publication. However, a broad consensus on certain essential parameters maybe desirable, even essential, if the individual has also to be a significant part of the wider knowledge corpus which all editorials pooled together represent.
We wonder if ever an exercise to publish all editorials of a certain publication has been undertaken, say over a five or ten year period. Or for that matter, say hundred editorials from hundred different editors. It may make for fascinating reading. We hope some smart publisher is reading this. It is possible editorials of one editor may have been compiled and published in book form. That itself is not uninteresting. But the flavour of different edits by different authors is, well, in a class by itself. Wonder if it has been attempted ever?
Of course we know why it may not have been done. Editors, by and large, are reticent people, with a magnified sense of their own importance. Well, this may hurt some, but before they jump at our throats, let us clarify that we belong there as well (The group of editors, reticent, and pompous.). Hence, they may be willing to publish a book of their own edits, but maybe averse to a book with multiple editors as co-authors. Maybe some smart publisher should manage it. He will make his bucks, for sure. And the readers, including fellow editors, will hugely enjoy the fare offered, as they savour the stuff that goes into edit writing. And a second important service will be to help deflate some editorial egos, much in need of puncturing, as so many readers would vouch for.
Enough of that for the present, for we must concentrate on the questions raised at the beginning of this essay. And we hope fellow editors can take some ego puncturing sportingly. Are they not doing it to their writers all the time? It helps to get to the other side of the fence on occasions. Never mind, for those who feel sour faced, there is solace. Their position in the periodical will ensure their ego builds up with some speed once again.
Opinion Maker, Reconciliatory, Balanced and Crusading
The very first criterion is that a good editorial is an opinion maker. If it is based on evidence, so much the better. But it analyses evidence rather than produces it. Of course what it analyses can be the basis of the production of new evidence. But it is more like the ‘Results and Discussion’ that follow ‘Materials and Method’ in a research paper in so far as it is an objective analysis. However, it goes beyond an analysis. It must necessarily also express an opinion. It must attempt to critically analyse and sift from the various opinions, analyses and evidences floating around. It must present a refreshing perspective on an issue so as to retain balance when writings get opinionated; and/or stir up the crotchety and crusty when scientific/creative stupor sets in. Moreover, a good editorial is contemporary without being populist. It tackles recent events and issues, and attempts to formulate viewpoints based on an objective analysis of happenings and conflicting/contrary opinions.
An editorial is predominantly about balance. But that does not prevent it from occasionally stirring things up, when such is the need. Hence a hard-hitting editorial is as legitimate as a balanced equipoise that reconciles apparently conflicting positions and controversial posturings, whether amongst politicians (in news papers), or amongst researchers (in academic journals).
All said and done, the element of balance can never be lost. For that, it certainly helps if an editor is a balanced individual by temperament as well. However, let it not mean that balance in temperament excludes crusading zeal. Most editors of some merit have the latter in reasonable quantity, although they may play it down, or publicly make a mockery of it, since it is the in thing to do (the mockery, not the crusading). Moreover, denial can be a strong defense mechanism, as much in editors as in the rest of humanity.
Make no mistake about it. Forget the loud protestation to the contrary. Scratch the surface of any good editor who enjoys his job, and a crusader will shine through.
To sum up, a good editorial is either one or more of the following: it is an opinion maker, it is reconciliatory between contrary viewpoints or standpoints, it is balanced in its analysis of evidence and events, and it is, manifest or otherwise, crusading in its thrust.
An editorial is traditionally written in a literary style. While it is difficult to define what a literary style is, let us say it is one in which thought is well clothed in language. So well that an editorial may make for a literary piece in literature, aside and apart from its factual or scientific content. However, having said that, it must be noted that an editorial is not only a literary piece. It must also express a firm and balanced opinion on something, an opinion that clarifies the muddle into which committed writers and researchers may lead the reader. At no stage must the language overshadow the thought, however. That is a subtle distinction to maintain. The thought may be embellished by language, not drowned in it. It is very much like a beautiful lady in an equally beautiful dress. Her beauty must be accentuated by the dress. She should not get drowned, or over shadowed, by it, for then the whole exercise is counterproductive. Like when a model becomes just a peg to drape a dress on. That is a distinct danger a good editorial writer must beware of. But, even if it be so, we may note that an editor with a literary flair can make even a humdrum issue vibrate with his unique touch.
In sum, then, language is an important accessory, but never the main thing.
The After Taste
Like the dessert after a good meal leaves an, in fact decides the, after taste, a good editorial must also be careful to leave a good after taste. This is one in which the reader is held to the piece and retains his interest right till the end. So the piece has to be sufficiently brief to hold his attention, and equally entertaining to hold his attention so that the wholesome is imbibed. It must be such that the reader feels enlightened, or empowered, or helped in forming his own opinion on an issue. While a good editorial expresses an opinion, it does not force it down the throat of the reader. It is subtle enough to appeal to the good sense of the knowledgeable reader without forcing him to toe its line. This is its real test.
The feeling after a good editorial is done with is one of profundity. It is of being in the presence of an enlightened being. It is of feeling ennobled and charged to do something worthwhile, or feel reconciled from a knotty or vexing thought process. It must, moreover, want you to give it a second read. Like wanting a second helping of a good dessert. And want to read further editorials by the same author. Like wanting ones favourite dessert after a meal.
A good editorial should express an opinion without being opinionated. It should teach without being pedagogic. It should transform without being evangelical. It should engulf without drowning. It should motivate to action without making you dictatorial. It should enlighten without getting you dogmatic, prejudiced and egotistical.
The last, and probably most important, a good editorial should be brief.
An article about a good editorial should also, if possible, be brief.
We hope this was.
CITATION: Singh A. and Singh S. (2006), What Is A Good Editorial? (Editorial). In: What Medicine Means To Me (Ajai R. Singh, Shakuntala A. Singh Eds.), MSM, III:6, IV:1-4, p14-17.