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
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
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
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.