Each week, the Herald receives submissions from letter-writers. Most are published, in print and online. Some are not.
In hopes of helping writers get their work published, here is our annual refresher on the rules regarding submissions to the Herald's opinion page.
Letter or Viewpoint? Readers are welcome to submit letters to the editor. Letters are shorter and must be signed, preferably by a single writer. The writer’s town must be included.
Viewpoints are longer and 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. Submitting a long letter and requesting it be printed as a Viewpoint usually will not get it published.
Our address: Send to email@example.com or Box 6008, Grand Forks, 58206.
Phone number: We won't publish your phone number, but it helps us confirm the author's identity and also to easily call if we have questions.
Real names: Letter-writers must use their real name.
Length: Letters must be 350 words or less, although a letter that ends with a strong point may be allowed another 20 or so words. Letters of 250 words are preferred.
Viewpoints should have a target of 650 words. Many writers seek exceptions on Viewpoint word count, yet our own staff editorials rarely exceed 535 words. For example, this piece is 531 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.
Name-calling: Refrain from name-calling.
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No open letters: Open letters to a third party likely will not be published.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, preferably ones that can be corroborated through news coverage or 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religion: Religion-based letters that relate to a current issue are fine, but letters simply about religion likely will not be published.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 event is OK.
Third-party sites: Suggesting readers visit a third-party website may result in a letter not being published.
No business: Letters 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 construed as personal thank-yous probably will not be published.
Form letters: Obvious form letters (written by a party or person and passed around for others to sign and send) will not be published.
Oversaturation: Eventually, issues play out. Numerous letters that repeat previous opinions may be rejected.
Editing: All letters are subject to editing for style, length, accuracy, grammar, clarity and conformation to the rules stated above. Headlines will be edited to conform to space requirements and standards. Authors who refuse these terms will be rejected.