What Does Op-Ed Mean? (And How to Write a Convincing One)

If you love powerful, persuasive writing, an op-ed is for you. The term op-ed means “opposite the editorial page.”

It is typically written by someone outside the newspaper or magazine who has a specific argument or point of view on an important topic. They are often written by freelance writers or experts in the field.

What is an Op-Ed?

An op-ed is an opportunity for people from outside the media to speak directly with readers. It’s often written by a subject matter expert to understand their point of view more deeply.

Unlike other parts of journalism, op-eds by nature mean they are not required to be balanced or take differing points of view into account. They’re intended to be a point of view and are written with the understanding that it’s one side of an argument.

How to Write a Convincing Op-Ed

  1. Stand By Your Opinion
    The absolute op-ed meaning or goal is to argue your point. Don’t waffle or go too deep into contradictory opinions. This does not need to present all sides equally, it needs to present your argument well.
  2. Be Personal
    People read op-eds to get an expert opinion. They don’t want to only hear statistic and vague, distanced writing. They want to hear from someone with experience, hook them in with a personal story, and weave elements of your personal experience throughout the article for emotional punch.
  3. Understand the Audience
    Are you writing in a general-interest newspaper or an industry publication? Make sure to write in a way that your audience will understand. If you’re writing in a general newspaper, avoid jargon and explain terms or concepts that aren’t common knowledge. If you’re not sure, ask a friend outside the field to read it over.
  4. Present Evidence
    Everyone can have an opinion, but a good op-ed needs to be backed up with facts. The most powerful op-ed writers layer their arguments to present a mixture of personal opinion with external evidence and statistics.
  5. Use Examples
    Arguing about a conceptual idea is one thing, but if you can turn it into a story people will emotionally connect and remember it. Rather than only stating facts and a well-reasoned argument, use examples to tell stories. It’ll be more powerful and make a bigger impact.
  6. Make a Call-to-Action
    Op-eds mean to motivate people to take action. At the end of the article, tell readers what to do to help. Include a phone number to call or a website to donate to. Ideally, by the end of reading your article, they should be highly motivated to act — encourage them to do so.