Writing an Editorial
Another Tutorial by:
Annandale High School
Annandale, VA 22312
CHARACTERISTICS OF EDITORIAL WRITING
An editorial is an article that presents the newspaper's opinion on an issue. It reflects the majority vote of the editorial board, the governing body of the newspaper made up of editors and business managers. It is usually unsigned. Much in the same manner of a lawyer, editorial writers build on an argument and try to persuade readers to think the same way they do. Editorials are meant to influence public opinion, promote critical thinking, and sometimes cause people to take action on an issue. In essence, an editorial is an opinionated news story.
1. Introduction, body and conclusion like other news stories
2. An objective explanation of the issue, especially complex issues
3. A timely news angle
4. Opinions from the opposing viewpoint that refute directly the same issues the writer addresses
5. The opinions of the writer delivered in a professional manner. Good editorials engage issues, not personalities and refrain from name-calling or other petty tactics of persuasion.
6. Alternative solutions to the problem or issue being criticized. Anyone can gripe about a problem, but a good editorial should take a pro-active approach to making the situation better by using constructive criticism and giving solutions.
7. A solid and concise conclusion that powerfully summarizes the writer's opinion. Give it some punch.
Four Types of Editorials Will:
1. Explain or interpret: Editors often use these editorials to explain the way the newspaper covered a sensitive or controversial subject. School newspapers may explain new school rules or a particular student-body effort like a food drive.
2. Criticize: These editorials constructively criticize actions, decisions or situations while providing solutions to the problem identified. Immediate purpose is to get readers to see the problem, not the solution.
3. Persuade: Editorials of persuasion aim to immediately see the solution, not the problem. From the first paragraph, readers will be encouraged to take a specific, positive action. Political endorsements are good examples of editorials of persuasion.
4. Praise: These editorials commend people and organizations for something done well. They are not as common as the other three.
Writing an Editorial
1. Pick a significant topic that has a current news angle and would interest readers.
2. Collect information and facts; include objective reporting; do research
3. State your opinion briefly in the fashion of a thesis statement
4. Explain the issue objectively as a reporter would and tell why this situation is important
5. Give opposing viewpoint first with its quotations and facts
6. Refute (reject) the other side and develop your case using facts, details, figures, quotations. Pick apart the other side's logic.
7. Concede a point of the opposition — they must have some good points you can acknowledge that would make you look rational.
8. Repeat key phrases to reinforce an idea into the reader's minds.
9. Give a realistic solution(s) to the problem that goes beyond common knowledge. Encourage critical thinking and pro-active reaction.
10. Wrap it up in a concluding punch that restates your opening remark (thesis statement).
11. Keep it to 500 words; make every work count; never use "I"
A Sample Structure
I. Lead with an Objective Explanation of the Issue/Controversy.
Include the five W's and the H. (Members of Congress, in effort to reduce the budget, are looking to cut funding from public television. Hearings were held …)
- Pull in facts and quotations from the sources which are relevant.
- Additional research may be necessary.
II. Present Your Opposition First.
As the writer you disagree with these viewpoints. Identify the people (specifically who oppose you. (Republicans feel that these cuts are necessary; other cable stations can pick them; only the rich watch public television.)
- Use facts and quotations to state objectively their opinions.
- Give a strong position of the opposition. You gain nothing in refuting a weak position.
III. Directly Refute The Opposition's Beliefs.
You can begin your article with transition. (Republicans believe public televison is a "sandbox for the rich." However, statistics show most people who watch public television make less than $40,000 per year.)
- Pull in other facts and quotations from people who support your position.
- Concede a valid point of the opposition which will make you appear rational, one who has considered all the options (fiscal times are tough, and we can cut some of the funding for the arts; however, …).
IV. Give Other, Original Reasons/Analogies
In defense of your position, give reasons from strong to strongest order. (Taking money away from public television is robbing children of their education …)
- Use a literary or cultural allusion that lends to your credibility and perceived intelligence (We should render unto Caesar that which belongs to him …)
V. Conclude With Some Punch.
Give solutions to the problem or challenge the reader to be informed. (Congress should look to where real wastes exist — perhaps in defense and entitlements — to find ways to save money. Digging into public television's pocket hurts us all.)
- A quotation can be effective, especially if from a respected source
- A rhetorical question can be an effective concluder as well (If the government doesn't defend the interests of children, who will?)
Go to the library or any computer lab and complete the “webquest” located at
An editorial is a newspaper article that expresses one's opinion. An editorial can be about any topic, but is usually written about an issue that deals with our society. To build credibility, the opinion in the editorial must be backed up with facts and evidence to substantiate your opinion.
The facts and evidence must be gone through extensively to find the point of view you want to argue. With a point of view through an editorial piece, issues are given solutions that could be rendered to solve the actual problem at hand. A newspaper editorial may seem hard to write; but, initiative and passion about an issue gives you, the writer, the inside knowledge of making editorial writing easier.
Steps for Writing Newspaper Editorials
There are several different steps you need to follow in order to be successful when writing an editorial:
Choosing a Topic
The topic you choose is the most important part in writing a newspaper editorial. The best topics are those that are current issues among our society. If the topic is a current issue that everyone is already interested in then your editorial piece will engage reader’s attention.
If the topic you choose is an ongoing issue in our society, make sure to use the most recent information. However, you can use older information as sources to help prove your case. Do not make your editorial a controversial topic, unless that is that is your whole reason for writing it in the first place.
Choosing Your Opinion
You need to ask yourself, are you for or against the issue you have chosen as your topic for your newspaper editorial piece. You can not be on both sides of the fence when writing an editorial piece. The purpose for the editorial is to give your opinion, the writer’s opinion. With this in mind you must give a strong opinion, if not readers will not be as inclined to see your point of view.
Outline Your Editorial
Oh, the dreaded outline. With any type of research paper you have to do an outline. This is one of the biggest tips on writing newspaper editorial format that you should always follow. With an outline you know where you stand on the issue. The outline helps you, the writer, get your thoughts and opinions in order. The outline also helps you discover any swaying of opinions you may have missed by just diving head first into writing.
Writing Your Article
The first step to writing your newspaper editorial is to pick a headline that grabs reader’s attention. If you grab their attention from the very beginning they are more inclined to keep reading. Your opinion on the topic should be addressed in the introduction to your new editorial.
Newspaper editorials should have at least three arguments. These arguments of course should be backed up with facts and evidence from your research of the topic.
Other tips for writing editorials are:
- Use statistics to help prove your argument.
- Make sure your strongest argument is left for last.
- Do not be passive in the arguments that come before the strongest. If this happens you are most likely not going to have readers reading your entire newspaper editorial.
Conclusion of Article
In a newspaper editorial, and with most anything else you write, your conclusion should sum up all the information you wrote about. The conclusion should be tied up into a neat little package so as to let readers get a recap of all the facts that you presented in your editorial.
Your conclusion should also have a few solutions you think would help with the issue at hand. You are getting the reader to engage in asking him or herself questions on how they stand on the particular issue in our society.