Editorial guidelines for Washington Examiner op-ed contributors

By the editors of the Washington Examiner
Last updated Jan. 13, 2014

General observations

Op-ed submissions should be emailed as Microsoft Word files, in 12-point Times New Roman font, single-spaced within paragraphs, double-spaced between, maximum length of 600 words. Yes, that’s awfully short, and there is an infinity of space on the Internet. But clarity, which is the sire of understanding, is also the son of brevity. Do not bother to send your submission if you won't or can't send it as an attached Word file, per these specs.

The Washington Examiner follows the Associated Press Stylebook. Be sure to include a one-line author credit — also known as a “tagline” — at the end. Authors who thoroughly edit their work for style, spelling and grammar prior to submission will be significantly advantaged over those too lazy or careless to do so.

No matter what your college English instructor or former copy desk chief told you, split infinitives are poor grammar. Make absolutely certain that you have the correct proper-name spellings (persons and organizations) and complete titles on first reference. Make doubly certain that you disclose to the Examiner editors if you have a commercial or other interest in the topic on which you are writing or any proposed actions you may be recommending in your submission. Failure to make such disclosure will result in your byline being permanently barred from the Washington Examiner (and may also endanger your eternal soul).

Feel free to inquire regarding interest in a potential topic before submitting a draft. Understand, however, that we receive far more submissions than we choose to publish on the Washington Examiner website. Repeat inquiries about publication decisions are not discouraged, but neither are they encouraged. There are, after all, only a few editors and so very many of you.

Topics of interest

The Washington Examiner is especially interested in publishing tightly reasoned, factually based and timely op-eds focusing on issues such as budget and taxes, tort reform, immigration, transparency and accountability in government, and energy. We are also quite interested in the areas of national security and defense, law and constitutionalism, the efficacy or lack thereof of government regulation (especially of enterprise and the economy), education reform, transportation, environment, and urban affairs. Given our length requirement, you must get to your main point with all due haste.

Good advice

Be prepared to provide upon request credible and complete documentation of the factual or logical basis of every statement contained in a submission. If you aren’t certain of the authenticity of a quote or the accuracy of an assertion, kill it. If you aren’t certain of a source’s credibility, toss it. Make sure you have read the most recent edition of the AP Stylebook chapters on libel. Check your math and data-cites twice.

Cardinal sins to avoid at all costs

Attacks on an individual’s character, ethnicity, birthplace, parentage, sexual orientation or personality are no substitute for logical argumentation, careful presentation of fact and intellectual civility. Merely disagreeing with you is not prima facie evidence that the person is an ignorant bigot, religious fanatic, despoiler of virgin forests, unrepentant racist, paid tool of the Capitalist Oppressors or a scheming, remorseless traitor to Truth, Justice and the American Way. Submissions found in violation will be quickly dispatched to File 13, never to be seen again in the editorial-section precincts of the Washington Examiner newsroom.

Do not forward your submission with "track changes" activated. You may have 10 levels of approval to get through, but we need to see only your final version. Whenever we open a submission and see the deletes, the consideration ends abruptly and we get very cranky. And we hate being cranky.

Do a double-double-triple-triple check to insure that the word “stakeholder” appears nowhere in your text. You may be writing about “interested parties” or "lobbyists” or “beneficiaries,” but “stakeholder” is obscurantist bureaucratese for “those who scratch each other’s backs to insure that every hog gets a full plate at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Finally, never, ever start an op-ed with the word “the,” as it pitches the executive editor into paroxysms of manic laughter and uncontrollable weeping. (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight.) The bad news is that when he sees the word “the” at the outset of an op-ed, its next point of contact is the cyber waste-basket. The good news is you will find, with practice, that avoiding “the” at the outset forces you to think more creatively and concisely about what you are seeking to communicate with your op-ed.

May God bless the English language and authors who love its power to capture the minds, hearts and imaginations of thoughtful readers.