How to write an op-ed article with purpose and style

  • Craft convincing opinion pieces with these practical tips
  • Get suggestions on topics, style and formatting from the experienced editor of Young Post
Susan Ramsay |

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An op-ed is a page of personal commentary and/or features articles about events in the news. In a newspaper, the articles are often written by an expert in a certain field. They are not personal accounts, however. If you find yourself writing "I" or "we" you are going down the wrong path. They are also not public relations opportunities for your school, please bear this in mind when selecting your subject matter.

What to write about

For the Young Post op-ed page we will focus on local news and daily issues along with hot topics or something you find interesting. Subjects will cover any news-related issue ranging from the environment to social issues and politics. Think about the subjects explored in Liberal Studies and you will be on the right track.

To get your head around what an opinion page is, you can read The South China Morning Post’s opinion page.

If you are not sure of what to write, or whether or not your idea will be accepted, you can pitch it to the Young Post editor. E-mail her at [email protected].

How to write a news article

What style you should use

An opinion piece is not like an ordinary article in the sense that it is not objective. It brings forward arguments and leads to one point. Make sure you make that point. Unlike a news story, you don’t need to include quotes in your opinion piece. Quotes are only there to illustrate a point, but as always they must be correctly sourced. Please double check the spelling of proper nouns, names, places, organisations, etc.

An opinion piece is not like a letter in the sense that opinion pieces are usually longer, better argued and they only cover news-related issues.

You shouldn’t write in the first person when writing an opinion piece. And although you are writing your opinion on a matter, it doesn’t mean you can’t consider the other side of the argument.

What you should always keep in mind

If you are writing about a subject that you know well, don't forget that your readers might not know as much on the issue. Include the context and background information necessary to understand where you come from.

If you are discussing something that someone said, you will need to quote him. Anything included between quotation marks has to be the exact words spoken by the person. 

If you cannot find the quote, you can paraphrase what the person said, but you must keep the original meaning. You do not use quotation marks when you paraphrase.

If you quote Chinese people please get their full names - not just Carmen Wong but Carmen Wong Ka-man. You also need to include their designation – HKBU psychology professor Carmen Wong Ka-man says...

How to use quotes as a journalist

Check that your facts are correct 

When you refer to a poll, a survey or a report, remember to write who conducted it, when and how many people were interviewed.

If you want to use information you found on the Internet, you also have to name the website and give its address. 

Remember that if you use someone else’s ideas and writing without naming your sources, you’re committing plagiarism - you’ve basically stolen their work.


You will be asked to file your pieces according to a roster. They need to be in two days before publication at the latest. Generally speaking we should only need one or two pieces per term from you. Usually once a month.

How to report on school events: Dos and don’ts

How to get your work

As well as being a chance for you to practise your persuasive writing skills, having your name in print is a great addition to your resume. So if for some reason you cannot get hold of the Young Post copy where your work is published, you can ask us for a PDF version of op-ed page.

The format

Each piece should be at least 400 words. Don't  forget to include your full name, school, contact number and e-mail address so we can get back to you if we have any questions.

If you have special illustration skills, you can always send us a drawing/cartoon to go alongside your text. We will publish it if we have enough space on the page.

Once your work is ready, email it to [email protected] and [email protected]

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