How to Write a Letter

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Don’ts:

Don’t send a form letter. The idea is to relay your opinion in the tone of your unique personality.

Don’t use sanctimonious phrases such as, “As a concerned citizen …” or “As a taxpayer …” Avoid cliches as this may make your letter sound like spam.

Don’t send a copy of your letter to multiple legislators. Write each one individually.

Do not even hint that you will not vote for the legislator if they don’t respond the way you want.

Avoid informal language.

Do’s:

Follow the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement:

  • Avoid bombastic language that insults or attacks.
  • Don’t name call.
  • Don’t be rude or threatening.
  • Do not be combative.
  • Never give up.

Address your legislator properly. Refer to your legislator as “The Honorable (Name)” in addressing the envelope and the letter. In the salutation, use “Dear Senator,” “Dear Congressman,” “Dear Congresswoman,” “Dear Representative,” “Dear Assemblyman,” or “Dear Assemblywoman.”

If you’re writing about a specific bill, provide the bill number and briefly describe the bill.

Write your concerns in a clear manner, using your personal experience as supporting evidence: Why is this issue important to you? How does it affect your business, community or family? If possible, include a local anecdote.

Make an impact by constructing your letter around one or two topics. Present the best arguments in favor of your position and ask for their consideration. It’s important that your letter is strong, well thought out and easy to understand.

Keep letters to one page.

Begin with an introduction of yourself. “I am a first grade teacher ..” or “On behalf of the members of the …”

Get to the point quickly. Use language such as “We urge you to support …” or “Please consider …”

Include the date, your full address and zip code.