Letter Writing Help Desk

How to write an effective letter!

To increase the impact of your letters to Congressmen, write legibly or use a computer or typewriter, and include your name and address so your congressman can respond. Limit your letter to one page and address a single topic.

In general, letters should be three short paragraphs. The first paragraph should state that you support or oppose a position or piece of legislation. The second paragraph should explain, briefly, the reasons for your support or opposition. The third paragraph should ask the Congressman to write back explaining his position on the legislation. Avoid exaggeration and, when appropriate, document your position with an accompanying article or editorial.

State your view firmly, but avoid name-calling or making threats. Try to be reasonable, factual, and friendly. Even if you disagree with your? your Representatives on most issues, be sure to commend them if they have done something right. It will establish that you are fair and will encourage them to pay closer attention to subsequent complaints about their performance.

Whenever possible, refer to bills and resolutions by number. It will help your Congressman to determine exactly which measure you are interested in and will demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Finally, time your letters to arrive at mid-week, rather than on Monday, when deliveries are heaviest, or on Friday, when the weekend rush hits.

It is a good idea to follow-up your Congressman’s response, or lack thereof, with another brief letter – regardless of the position he takes. If the Congressman agrees with you, send a one or two sentence letter of thanks for his stand in favor of limited, Constitutional government. If the Congressman disagrees with your position, reply with a brief letter quoting the section of his letter with which you take issue and restate your position.

Elected officials listen most intently to letters from voters in their own districts, and hardly listen at all to voices from outside of their districts. In most cases, it is not worth the trouble to write to officials who do not represent your state and district. The majority of Congressional offices automatically forward non-constituent letters to the Congressional office representing the letter-writer. [Original source]

Write a letter to your State legislators!

You can have an impact on your elected officials by sending them a letter or an email. An email is quick and easy, and both Michigan NORML and national NORML have pre-written emails available that you can quickly access and send, but a letter is a better communication tool because it takes more time to prepare and deliver and elected officials understand the difference.

Here are a few resources that will help you create and send a letter to your elected officials that will enable you to communicate your thoughts effectively.

The University of Kansas has a wonderful resource called the Community Tool Box that includes a very comprehensive section about writing to elected officials. The materials include:

  • WHAT IS A LETTER TO AN ELECTED OFFICIAL?
  • WHY WRITE TO ELECTED OFFICIALS?
  • WHEN SHOULD YOU WRITE LETTERS TO ELECTED OFFICIALS?
  • HOW DO YOU WRITE TO PUBLIC OFFICIALS?
  • SHOULD YOU USE E-MAIL?

The are also Michigan resources to assist you with writing a letter to your legislators. On Page 2 of the 2018 Michigan Citizen’s Guide to State Government, there is a detailed description of how to write to your Michigan legislators.

The Michigan Democratic Party also has a page on their website that instructs visitors how to write an effective letter to elected officials.

Write a letter to your Federal legislators!

In an article by Jake Morphonios on NolanChart.com, Jake shares some excellent tips for communicating to your federal legislators.

The website, ArtOfManliness.com has an informative page on how to write an effective letter to your Congresspeople.