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Q: OP/Ed writing ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: OP/Ed writing
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: markmark2004-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 19 Mar 2005 11:36 PST
Expires: 18 Apr 2005 12:36 PDT
Question ID: 497258
I am looking for a book on how to write OP/Ed articles.  If there is
an industry standard journalism book on this precise topic, that's
what I am looking for.  All I need is the title and author of the
book.  If there are other books out there on this topic, that would be
helpful as well, but I really would like to know what book is the
industry standard on OP/ED writing.  Thanks!


Clarification of Question by markmark2004-ga on 19 Mar 2005 11:43 PST
In addition or alternatively, please provide the name of the industry
standard book on print journalism (i.e. writing newspaper articles). 
Many thanks.
Subject: Re: OP/Ed writing
Answered By: siliconsamurai-ga on 21 Mar 2005 06:22 PST
Hi, thank you for submitting your question to Google Answers, I hope I
can provide the information you are seeking.

I will preface this by saying that I have written OP/ED for a daily
newspaper and only stopped because of the very low pay. It is often a
lot of fun.

The primary requirements are to have opinions which fit in with the
ideas of a significant portion of the readership and an editor who is
willing to run your work.

I wouldn?t worry too much about the details and mechanics, ideas are
in big demand, and grammar is handled by copy editors and spell
checker software.

However, there are some books you will need to read in order to look professional.

This appears to be the main part of your question anyway.

The basic rules for all English language newspapers are contained in
the Associated Press Style Manual which is rightly termed ?The
Journalist?s ?Bible?.?

It is inexpensive and a good book to keep on hand even if you can
borrow one from the local library. There are new editions every year
but there are few significant changes.

Google search term: AP Style Manual

This is where you learn what to abbreviate, how to punctuate, how to
write numbers, libel words, and much, much more.

Now here is the bad news. Although virtually every newspaper will cite
the AP manual, they will all have their own in house manuals which can
sometimes run to hundreds of pages. The best way to understand how to
format your copy is to simply keep the AP manual as your basic
standard and read the paper(s) you are writing for, looking for
variations in how they edit copy.

But, as I wrote above, ideas are the currency ? try to conform to the
AP manual and you will get along fine, the paper already has editors.

Also, forget writing the headline. Sure, go ahead and do one, but
don?t struggle to make it great. I have never had an editor who kept
the headline I wrote ? a jealously guarded part of their job is to get
to write that line and most take advantage of it.

Remember, they are looking for YOUR voice in an OP/ED, don?t copy
anyone else. But there are mechanical tools you can learn to use.

The ONLY good book on writing I ever saw was Jon Franklin?s Writing
for Story. He was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner when he wrote the
first edition and he had actually created the categories he won in.

It isn?t about OP/ED but get a copy anyway, it is full of wisdom.

I don?t use his book for my writing but I do keep a copy on my bookshelf.

For specific information on writing OP/ED, see:

These are resources for academics but also apply to what you want to do.

I always encourage people with any desire to keep writing. I also
caution them that you don?t learn writing out of grammar or any other
book, you learn it by writing.

That said, the resources listed above can be a good guide as long as
you don?t take them as hard and fast rules.

There ARE some basic rules at this site:
most of them make sense.

Thank you again for turning to Google Answers for your research needs.

Buy the AP Style Manual and possibly Franklin's book, otherwise learn
by reading OP/ED columns and checking out the online resources I have
listed above.

Just so you know where the advice is coming from, I am a long-time
member of The National Press Club of Washington, and a former wire
service bureau chief.

Clarification of Answer by siliconsamurai-ga on 21 Mar 2005 06:32 PST
By the way, if it wasn?t entirely clear from my main answer.

No, there is NO industry standard book specifically on writing OP/ED pieces.

I've been doing this for decades and never heard of such a thing.

There are 51 books listed on but NONE of them are in any
sense of the word a ?standard.?

In fact, most are out of print or have little to do with writing and
none have decent reviews.

The good news is that you don't need a book on writing OP/ED although
the online guides offer some good advice.

Clarification of Answer by siliconsamurai-ga on 21 Mar 2005 12:35 PST
You are certainly welcome Mark, can you take a moment to rate the answer?

As for your writing efforts - GO FOR IT!!! 

There is always room for another writer willing to put their name to an opinion!

Sorry to post this as a clarification, there is some software glitch
preventing me from posting a comment.
Subject: Re: OP/Ed writing
From: siliconsamurai-ga on 20 Mar 2005 13:22 PST
I've done Op/Ed writing and doubt a book is the  answer if you want to
enter this business.
The primary problem, as with most freelancing, is to find an
editor/publisher willing to use your copy.
Subject: Re: OP/Ed writing
From: markmark2004-ga on 20 Mar 2005 17:01 PST
I'm really not trying to get into the business, I would just like a
good book on it to read because I am beginning to write smaller OP/ED
pieces for small local newsletters, etc.
Subject: Re: OP/Ed writing
From: markmark2004-ga on 21 Mar 2005 11:53 PST
Thank you so much.  That's a wealth of excellent information from
someone who obviously knows this field.  I really appreciate it. 


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