Each week, the Herald receives submissions from writers who would like their opinions seen by our readers. Most eventually are published, both in print and in the Herald's online offerings. Some are not.
In hopes of easing the process and helping writers get their work published, here is our annual refresher on the rules regarding the Herald's opinion page.
Letter or Viewpoint? Readers are welcome to submit letters to the editor. Letters are shorter (350 words or fewer) and must be signed, preferably by a single writer.
Viewpoints are longer and are reserved for writers with a specific expertise or stake in an issue. Viewpoints must include a photo of the author. Most letters are accepted, but editors are much more discerning with Viewpoint submissions. Simply submitting a long letter and requesting it be printed as a Viewpoint usually will not get it published.
Include a phone number: We won't publish the number, but it helps us confirm the author's identity and also to easily call if we have questions.
Length: Letters must be 350 words or less, although a letter that ends with a strong and valid point may be allowed another 20 or so words. Shorter letters of 250 words are preferred.
Viewpoints should have a target of 650 words. We are overrun by writers who seek exceptions on word count, yet our own editorial board opinions rarely exceed 525 words. For example, this piece is 513 words.
Style: Many writers struggle with length because they wait too long to get to the point. Avoid tired phrases ("I read with interest") and letters that make numerous points.
One per month: Letter-writers are limited to one per month.
No open letters: Open letters to a third party likely will not be published.
Avoid hearsay: Stick to verifiable facts, and preferably ones that can be corroborated through recent news coverage or via public information.
Limit religion: Religion-based letters that relate to a current issue are fine, but letters simply about religion likely will not be published.
No poems: The Herald likely will not publish poems - and especially poems about non-issues - whether original works or excerpts of other authors' work.
Don't promote an event: Letters should be about issues and opinions. However, a letter about a current issue that may include information about a related meeting or event is OK.
Similarly, suggesting readers visit a third-party website may result in a letter not being published.
No business: Letters that can be construed as advertising will not be accepted. Likewise, letters likely will be rejected if they disparage a private business, unless that business is involved in a news event.
Politics: During election season, the Herald charges for political letters.
Thank-you: Letters that can be construed as personal thank-yous probably will not be published.
Oversaturation: Eventually, an issue plays itself out. Numerous letters that simply repeat previous opinions may be rejected.
Editing: All letters submitted to the Herald are subject to editing for style, length, accuracy, grammar, clarity and conformation to the rules stated above. Authors who refuse these terms will be rejected.