How to write an Op-Ed or Guest Opinion Essay

Last Updated: 21 September 2021

How to write an Op-Ed or Guest Essay

Unlike a standard academic essay where you are required to strictly maintain an academic tone, not to use first-person (or at least use it only in some essays), and use certain academic phrases, writing an opinion article or Op-Ed allows you the freedom but your writing skills must be top-notch. This is why we have written this comprehensive guide to guide you through writing an Op-Ed essay.

If you are a professional, student, or layperson who wants someone to write your Op-Ed, guest opinion, or guest essay for publication, you can hire a ghostwriter on our website. They are adaptable, flexible, and knowledgeable enough.

However, if you intend to learn how to write an Op-Ed and do it yourself, flip through these few headings and subheadings to find what can help you hone your skills. These insights have been sought and compiled from our editorial team, researchers, and top writers who have produced world-class Op-Eds for different individuals.

These guidelines also borrow ideas from top Op-Ed writers and resources over the internet. In addition, we have condensed information to make it easier for you to plan, craft, and submit a top-of-the-grade Op-Ed.

Let’s dig deep and see what we have here. In a nutshell, the article covers the contents displayed below.

Table of Contents

What is an Op-Ed essay?

When you think Op-Ed, the names Herbert Bayard Swope and Michael Socolow come into mind. These were the brilliant minds behind what would today be known as Op-Ed, although recently a retired label by The New York Times, and henceforth known as Guest Essays.

An Op-Ed, a short name for “opposite the editorial page” refers to a written piece of prose published in a magazine or a newspaper where the author expresses their opinion on a given issue. The author, in this case, is never affiliated with the editorial board of the publication.

In this opinion piece from contributors not affiliated with the editorial board, you must show that your writing skills are worth the salt. Being published in a top national paper or at least scoring the entire total grade in a class-assigned Op-Ed essay is no joke.

When you understand how to write and actually write a strong Op-Ed essay, you will have proven that you have mastered a real-world writing skill that you need to succeed anywhere in this age of competition – it’s a unique competitive advantage.

What is the purpose of the Op-Ed essay?

Op-Ed or guest essays are meant to help the readers of a publication to understand the world. It enables people who are not journalists or have no affiliation to the editorial boards to speak directly to the readers without the mediation of the reporters. These Op-Eds often present arguments and voices that either dissent or diverge from the editorials (opinion pieces submitted by the editorial board members) or columnists.

The pieces are meant to give the readers robust, distinctive, and wide-ranging arguments and ideas on specific issues. They are also intended to sway public opinion and change minds by presenting convincing arguments in a concise, clear, and readable format.

As an assignment, an Op-Ed reflects the real-world applications outside the classroom. So, for instance, you can use the critical race theory or any other theory to diffuse inequalities in society.

They are also used to assess the accomplishment of learning outcomes at any level of the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy. So, for instance, you can be evaluated based on how you defend your position on the budget crisis or how you explain your thoughts on using innovative technologies in higher education.

How long is an Op-Ed essay?

Most newspaper outlets limit Op-Eds to 700-1200 words, four pages double-spaced in an academic format. As per the new guidelines by The New York Times, the word count should be between 800 and 1200 words. Nevertheless, shorter or longer essays are sometimes published. When writing an Op-Ed for publication, strive to reach at least 750 or 800 words.

Who writes an Op-Ed essay?

Op-Eds are written by members of the public not affiliated with the publishing institution. They are printed opposite the editorials written by the newspaper staff. The modern Op-Ed is published online thanks to the advancement in technology.

In many cases, when submitting your work for consideration, you are required to declare your professional, personal, or academic background that connects you to the idea or arguments in your essay.

Steps on how to write an Op-Ed Essay

So, you are now ready to take it to a higher notch and write an A-grade or noteworthy Op-Ed? First, let’s set you up with some of the seven easy steps to writing an opinion editorial article in any niche and nail it properly.

Step 1: Conduct thorough research

When writing an Op-Ed, you need to begin by researching to find out what is recent happening around the niche you’ve chosen. Consider the hot topic, general perspective of the public, any changes in legislation or laws in the marketplace, and pretty much new occurrences.

It would help if you did research on high-profile websites in your chosen niche, check social media pages, or check forums. But, equally, focus on the scholarly resources that support what you are writing about.

Good research puts you on a pedestal towards writing a convincing Op-Ed that attracts readership and gets you good grades.

Step 2: Choose a workable position

When researching, you will notice that you will develop a thesis or a central claim. Choosing a position on an issue helps you grow your voice, choose your words, and resonate with the readers. So instead of being on the fence, choose a side and stand by it. It is either you like it or totally don’t. It is either relevant or irrelevant.

Choosing a position also helps you to own an opinion. Our ghostwriters are so keen because this is the point where the problem sets in. however, as long as you tell your writer what perspective to take, you are good to go. They are so good at adopting the role of the opinion until the work is over.

When you own an idea off the bat, you will be able to nail the call-to-action or call for further thought over an issue and win the trust of your readers.

Step 3: Draft your Op-Ed

Once you have chosen your position, you need to carefully choose your title, hook, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and the call-to-action.

Begin writing your Op-Ed with a sound hook that relates to the issue alongside a story that personalizes it to the readers and yourself. As you make the hook, be very brief. For instance, if a shooting was reported in the news, and your Op-Ed supports measures to control gun ownership, briefly cover the gun death statistics or make a relatable story to it.

Focus on what each paragraph will entail and how you plan to end the essay with a call-to-action.

Step 4: Include supporting facts and examples

When writing your personal opinions, you need evidence and support to make them relevant, believable, and insightful. Use the data, facts, and statistics from scholarly sources to reinforce points in your Op-Ed. In addition, you can use historical facts, figures, and quotes to bolster the case that you are making.

Remember, when writing an opinion article, you might be tempted to leave out the sources. However, using external sources helps you stand out as a credible, deep, and insightful expert. Mostly, the body paragraphs are solutions you propose to be implemented.

Step 5: Avoid generalizations and overdoing it

When writing, avoid generalizing issues. Instead, be as direct and specific as possible lest you confuse your readers. On the same tone, write the paper in simple terms and let it attract attention, drive traffic, or whatever its intention is. In the case of a classroom assignment, write an Op-Ed that meets the requirements for a top grade on your rubric. Having a perfectionist mindset and approach can ruin the happiness and sweetness in writing an Op-Ed.

Step 6: Have a call to action

The call to action is usually your concluding paragraph. It should remind the reader that solving the problem or addressing the issue might take time, dedication, and cooperation, but it is worth all the efforts. Finally, invite the readers to become part of the solution from their own angle.  

Step 7: Proofread, Edit, and Polish

Avoid jargon or industry-speak to ensure that your audience is not confused or limited. Make sure that the concepts, theories, and any complex terms are explained to broaden the understanding of the readers and encourage them to think. An Op-Ed should be devoid of grammar, stylistic, formatting, and spelling mistakes. Therefore, ensure that your essay is well-polished.

Tips and tricks when writing an Op-Ed Essay

When assigned to write an opinion over an interesting issue, it is a chance to persuasively and clearly express your opinion in an Op-Ed article. You are going to reach a mammoth of people, change minds, reshape public opinion or policy, and sway hearts. If your institution is publishing the Op-Ed, you would probably win accolades, recognition, and significant publicity compared to the sweat and tears it takes to be published in a professional journal article. To nail it and leave everything else to chance, of course with higher success chances, here are some tips and tricks to guide your writing process:

The timing of your Op-Ed is usually very critical. Therefore, choose to write when an issue is dominating the news. For instance, check news relating to innovation, wars, diseases, pandemics, stock markets, economies, or controversial celebrity news from a reality show. Also, ensure that it is an issue that you can link to your area of study.

By any chance, avoid using technical terms of jargon as they have no place in your arguments. Instead, make it as easy as possible for the audience to resonate with your ideas. If you are in doubt about a given vocabulary, leave it out. Using simple language means that you are considerate of the lay readers – you’re simply taking care of anyone.

When assigned to write an Op-Ed, write it in your personal voice. It is easier to resonate with the readers if you are speaking from experience. Technically, this means that your hook must be strong enough and founded on your personal experiences with the issue or problem. While academics tend to avoid first-person in professional journals, you have the freedom to incorporate your ideas here. Doing so helps you connect with the reader to care to read and understand what you are saying attentively. Even more important, the personal voice gives you as a student or a person with no fancy title or degree leverage to capture the attention of the readers.

Since you are not writing scientific journals that require a systematic approach, reveal your punchline off the bat. An Op-Ed is technically the opposite of a scholarly article; you have 10 seconds or less to hook the busy reader, so put aside the witticism and the historical facts. Instead, penetrate the mind of your reader by getting directly to the point, convincing them, and giving them a reason to even read past the first few lines.

You have between 600 and 1200 words to handle an issue. So, the shorter your Op-Ed is, the better. On the other hand, it is impossible to solve all the problems in the world in around 750 words. Therefore, cut down your lengthy opinion article to size – it helps you get published without rejection.

When you dawn the shoes of a busy reader looking at your article, you will most likely want yourself to know what’s going on. Therefore, every few paragraphs remind the readers about why they should care (so what? Why now? Who care? Why should I care?) and whatnots. Appeal to self-interest instead of having some abstract punditry.

Be concise, clear, and coherent when writing your opinion article. Some publications count characters, words, and sentences. Therefore, use shorter sentences, mainly declarative sentences, to ease the reading for your audience. If possible, cut the long paragraphs into two or more balanced paragraphs.

An op-ed is an opinion about how to improve a situation. Therefore, make it live up to its name. Do not just stick to a mere classroom analysis. Instead, extend your argument by providing specific recommendations to specific bodies, organs, and people. For example, you can suggest that opposing parties reconcile their differences or need more collaborative research.

Active voice is better than passive voice. It improves the reading with ease ratings, which makes your Op-Ed readable and relatable. With such easy-to-read pieces, the audience can resonate with the whole point of the Op-Ed. Besides, you leave no doubt about recommending action or proposing a solution.

The ending of your Op-ed should be a winner in the aspect that you summarize your argument strongly. Let it reflect how the thesis of the op-ed has been supported. Most casual readers will skim through the conclusion to gauge if the op-ed is worth their time. Mostly, concluding with a thought or phrase that appeared in your strong opening closes the circle, which is a plus for a keen reader.

Instead of piling one reason after the other, why you are wrong, and the opponent is wrong. Instead, appeal to the readers concerning the other side of the debate. That way, you intellectually bring the debate to the table and leave your readers to decide which works for them.

Humans have a short memory that can be jogged by examples that paint colorful details compared to dry facts. You can leverage this when writing your Op-ed essay. Include great examples that breathe life into your arguments.

Dos and Don’ts when writing an Op-Ed essay

Here are some dos and taboos when writing an Op-ed either as a school assignment or for newspaper/magazine publication.

Dos

Don’ts

Examples of Professionally Written Op-Ed (Guest Opinion)

Here are some excellent examples of Op-Eds written and published in Newspapers and Magazines

Format of an Op-Ed essay

Op-Eds take many formats, including:

In class, you can be asked to write from either perspective. The goal is to test whether you have mastered writing skills that can place you better in the writing world.

As long as you challenge and engage the audience, you will consistently score the best grade. There are guidelines given in the Op-Ed essay prompts concerning the formatting styles.

Most Op-Eds that our essay writers have helped students like yourself write are in APA or MLA formats. Well, there are always a few required in Chicago/Turabian, Oxford, and Harvard formats.  

Having trouble with your Op-Ed or Guest Essay paper?

Thus far, we hope that this guide has been elaborative, practical, and nothing short of a whole lecture on writing an Op-Ed and scoring the best grade for it. You need to have the lion or bear type of confidence when attacking your opinion article. Consult your rubric and prompt for formatting style and general approach.

As a student or professional, you may have too much workload or too little time in your hands. Well, if that is the case with you, rather than procrastinating, you can hire someone to help you write an Op-Ed from our essay website.

We work with professionals who understand how to plan, draft, and write better papers, whether with academic or professional tones. So do not let that deadline pass because you can use our urgent essay service to beat approaching deadlines. When you buy an essay from us, we write it from scratch within the deadline.

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