The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Columns

May 12, 2014

These simple steps will help get submitted letters published

Perhaps you’ve noticed a dearth of letters in this space over the past week or so.

We surely have. We don’t know if it’s because everyone is out enjoying the lovely warm weather or if other reasons are to blame.

But we can tell you that we get letters that never get published. It’s not a matter of us disagreeing with what you have to say, nor are we practicing censorship of our readers’ opinions.

It’s a simple explanation — writers often don’t follow our guidelines. We don’t have too many rules, but the ones we do have should be followed. We publish the guidelines regularly in this space and they are on the Readers Speak section of our website.

One of the main reasons letters languish is that the writer does not provide a daytime telephone number. We don’t publish the phone number; we need it because we must call you to verify your letter or, in some cases, ask for a translation of what we will politely describe as not the best penmanship.

A phone number is needed even for letters that are e-mailed.

Another big reason letters are held out is because of their length. Our policy states that letters should be no more than 350 words. Sometimes we will cut a writer a break and let him or her have 400 words. But more than that is a no-go.

If we can contact you via e-mail or phone (another reason to include your number), we will ask you to edit it down. If those methods of contacting you are missing, well, your letter isn’t going to see ink.

There are a couple of other things writers can do to make it simpler to get a letter published.

E-mailing it is the best way to submit a letter (see translation comment above). Simply write it in the e-mail message window and send it to readersspeak@register-herald.com. No attachments, no fuss, no muss.

And please, be sure to paragraph it; it makes it much easier for us to read.

We know not everyone has e-mail, so we do still accept letters the old-fashioned way — by snail mail. Type the letter if possible; if you can’t, at least write legibly or maybe even print instead of writing cursive. Anything you can do to make it easier to read is appreciated.

Then mail your letter to: Our Readers Speak, The Register-Herald, P.O. Box 2398, Beckley, WV 25802.

We also must ask that you keep your letters civil; do not accuse anyone of illegal activities; do not call people names.

If you are responding to a previous letter with which you do not agree, again, keep it civil. After all, everyone is entitled to an opinion — even if it isn’t the same as yours.

So, keep those letters coming to us. Please, just follow these guidelines.

— Dawn A. Dayton is managing editor of The Register-Herald.

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