Tell Them What You Really Think

We here at Capital In Context love a good op-ed. That’s why we’re so fond of sharing frequent reminders about how (and how not) to write a well thought-out opinion article. 

Thankfully, The Washington Post recently covered the bases with this list of tips. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites below: 

  • Keep it focused. Target 750 to 800 words. Make sure your thesis is in the first couple of paragraphs. Burying the point is probably the biggest mistake we see clients making in first drafts. 
  • Consider visual aids. Op-eds can incorporate charts, photos, audio or even comics.
  • Brevity is key – especially when you’re making a sophisticated point. “The more complex the thought, the shorter the sentence should be,” the Post advises.
  • Question questions. Which is to say, when raising a question, ask yourself what point you’re trying to make. As the Post asks, “Is the question a lazy device for making an insinuation without really owning it?”
  • Use numbers (in moderation). Stats can bolster an argument and help make your point. But use them sparingly—it’s an op-ed, not a math problem. And you risk alienating readers.
  • Explain your reasoning. Points that seem obvious to you might not be so clear to the reader. “Remember, you’ve already thought your argument through; readers haven’t.”  
  • No jargon. It doesn’t make you sound smarter, and it turns readers off.