How to Write Effective Letters to Congress

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By Robert Longley. US Government Expert

Robert has logged over 26 years of experience in municipal government in Texas and California cities. He has also served as About's Guide to U.S. Government since October 1997.

Think Locally

It's usually best to send letters to the representative from your local Congressional District or the senators from your state. Your vote helps elect them -- or not -- and that fact alone carries a lot of weight. It also helps personalize your letter. Sending the same "cookie-cutter" message to every member of Congress may grab attention but rarely much consideration.

Keep it Simple

Your letter should address a single topic or issue. Typed, one-page letters are

best. Many PACs (Political Action Committees ) recommend a three-paragraph letter structured like this:

  1. Say why you are writing and who you are. List your "credentials." (If you want a response, you must include your name and address, even when using email.)
  2. Provide more detail. Be factual not emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite the correct title or number whenever possible.
  3. Close by requesting the action you want taken: a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy.

The best letters are courteous, to the point, and include specific supporting examples.


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