An op-ed, or opinion editorial, is an argumentative essay that presents the writer's opinion or thoughts about an issue. Op-eds aim to persuade others and can substantiate the writer as an expert on a subject. An Op-Ed is an assignment that mirrors “real word” applications outside the classroom.
- Approximately 500 words
- Include a cover page with the following: a descriptive title (not just “Report”), author’s name, class and section numbers, and date of submission
- Use business-appropriate fonts and margin
- Insert page numbers (except for cover page which should NOT be numbered)
- Use headings/sub-headings as necessary
- Due to the short format, there is no need for a table of contents and/or executive summary
- Cite references using APA style
Many people believe that marketing fools people into buying things that they don't need and is inherently unethical. Your task is to write an op-ed in response to the following article posted in Psychology Today. In your response, you should:
- Argue against Dr. Nemko and make a case for ethical marketing practices
- Cite at least one source to provide evidence for your claim. A convincing op-ed is NOT purely based on opinion – your thesis needs to be backed up.
The purpose of an Op-Ed is to sway public opinion and change minds using a convincing argument and presenting it in a concise, readable way. Editorials are written according to a well-established formula:
- Introduction – state the problem
- Body – expresses an opinion
- Solution – offers a solution to the problem
- Conclusion – emphasizes the main issue
Lead paragraph: Try to grab readers right away with your first sentence; make them want to read more. Start with an interesting story or example that encapsulates your point.
Supporting paragraphs: Now that you've stated your point and grabbed readers' attention, build on your lead with facts, statistics, and anecdotes.
Wrap it up: In the concluding paragraph, take your argument a step further and leave readers with information about what needs to be done next. If you're trying to move people to action, be sure to answer the question, "What can I do?" Make the final sentence as compelling as the first one. If you started with an example, bring the story full circle by referencing your original point.
Writing an Op-Ed
Think of an opinion piece as a persuasive essay: the writer has an opinion or a point of view on an issue and he or she wants to convince the reader to agree. This is not as easy as it may seem.
- Start with a sentence. Try to sum up your opinion in a single sentence to begin, then think about facts and anecdotes to support your initial point. The first line of an op-ed is crucial. The opening “hook” may grab the reader’s attention with a strong claim, a surprising fact, a metaphor, a mystery, or a counter-intuitive observation that entices the reader into reading more. The opening also briefly lays the foundation for your argument.
- State your opinion clearly. An op-ed is about your opinion and perspective. Put your argument forward in a persuasive, authoritative manner. However, it is important to acknowledge the other side. People writing op-ed articles sometimes make the mistake of piling on one reason after another why they’re right and their opponents are wrong. Your writing will be more credible, and almost certainly more humble and appealing if you take a moment to acknowledge the ways in which your opponents are right. When you see experienced op-ed authors saying “to be sure,” that’s what they’re doing.
- Be informal BUT professional. Use simple, everyday language that is easy to understand. Keep in mind you are writing for a general audience that may not be as familiar with your subject as you are. Use the active voice. Don't write: “It is hoped that [or: One would hope that] the government will …” Instead, say “I hope the government will …” Active voice is nearly always better than passive voice. It’s easier to read, and it leaves no doubt about who is doing the hoping, recommending or other action.
- Keep it short and simple. State your opinion clearly and quickly, back it up with facts and examples, then finish up. Use short sentences and paragraphs. Look at some op-ed articles and count the number of words per sentence. You’ll probably find the sentences to be quite short. You should use the same style, relying mainly on simple declarative sentences. Cut long paragraphs into two or more shorter ones.
- Do your research. You must research your topic and find out what’s happening and what went on in the past. You must know the facts and be able to refer to them in your argument (Pretend you are a lawyer and you are making a case before a jury. You will want to convince the members of the jury to believe that your client is right. Therefore you need to present as much evidence as you can that proves the point. You do the same when you write a column or editorial). Use facts and details to back up your opinion and help you make your case.
Finish strong. Leave your readers with a lasting impression — a strong point that will make them consider your point of view
Writing Tools and Resources
- Use the writing guide posted in cougar courses. This reference was created for CoBA students by a couple of faculty members to help with senior experience projects
- Please consider visiting the Writing Center, which is committed to your growth in all stages of the writing process (brainstorming, planning, drafting, revising). For the best results, go early and often for an assignment.
- This website offers great tips and tricks on writing an op-ed: https://www.theopedproject.org/oped-basics
- This website offers great resources to support your writing development – especially if you need guidance on proper APA citation: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html
- There are online tools like http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ and https://www.grammarly.com that can help you strengthen your writing by identifying common grammar mistakes as you type.
- Citation help: http://www.citationmachine.net
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