1. Be sure to make an argument. Don't just summarize details but argue for or against something. Example: "Mail-in ballots should be encouraged in an election because they will increase voter participation."
2. Keep the op-ed short. Most sources recommend fewer than 1,000 words.
3. Keep paragraphs short, fewer than 4 sentences.
4. Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that summarizes what will follow in that paragraph.
5. Use facts, data, statistics, and research articles as evidence in each of your paragraphs.
6. Know your audience. Think about the audience you will be writing for as your write your op-ed, and shape your tone and content accordingly.
7. Consider organizing your op-ed using the "ABC Approach" (source: The Learning Agency):
Attention: grab the reader's attention by saying something thought-provoking or even shocking.
Billboard: announce your argument.
Context: provide some brief background (history, etc.)
Demonstrate: your body paragraphs, each providing key pieces of evidence that support your argument.
Equivocate: a brief description and then discounting of the main counter-argument against your view.
Forward: Conclusion, with impact and looking ahead.
For tips on citing print and electronic sources, visit Trexler Library's Citation Guides for Print and Electronic Resources.
Or visit the Online Writing Lab at Purdue.
For automated citation, try the shareware Zotero.
For help with annotated bibliographies, visit Purdue's Online Writing Lab for definitions and format of an annotation.