Tips for Writing a Letter

Writing a letter to an elected official is a great way to be involved and it’s probably easier than you think! An effective letter will more likely be noticed and will leave a longer lasting impression. To write an effective letter, follow these simple tips:

  • Be professional and communicate the way you would if you were meeting in person.
  • If you are sending the letter as an e-mail, keep the letter formal, as if you were mailing or faxing the letter.
  • Include your return postal address in all forms of communication. You should also include your phone number and e-mail address.
  • Be brief and stay focused on the issue you want to address. It’s best to address one issue per letter and keep the letter to one page in length.
  • Write a 3-4 paragraph letter:
    • First Paragraph: If you live in the official’s district, let him or her know. State the issue (why you are contacting the official) and what you would like the person to do. If there’s a bill, include the number and the name/title.
    • Second/Third Paragraphs: Support your position on the issue. Be as factual as possible. Tell your story and how the issue impacts you or your family. Avoid using terms, acronyms, and abbreviations that might be unfamiliar to the person.
    • Closing Paragraph: Restate what you are asking the elected official to do (ex: vote for or vote against a particular bill). Provide your contact information and invite the person to contact you with any questions. Thank the person for their time.
  • Remember to check your spelling and grammar!

How to Find Your Legislators

Writing letters can definitely influence legislators’ views and decisions on issues. However, to be most influential, it’s best to write letters to the legislators that serve your district. Remember, your vote is important to them and it’s their job to respond to the needs of their constituents.

Click here to find your Pennsylvania state legislators. The results from this search will include your Pennsylvania House Representative and your Pennsylvania Senator.

To find your US Senator, visit the United States Senate website.

To find your US House Representative, visit the United States House of Representatives website.

How to Address a Legislator

On the envelope and in the address on the inside of the letter, Senators, Representatives, and Governors should be addressed “The Honorable [Full Name].”

The salutation for a Senator should be “Dear Senator [Last Name]:”

The salutation for a Representative should be “Dear Representative [Last Name]:”

A member of the U.S. House of Representatives may also be referred to as Congressman or Congresswoman. Therefore, it can also be acceptable to address a U.S. House Representative as “Dear Congressman [Last Name]” or “Dear Congresswoman [Last Name].”

The Salutation for a Governor should be “Dear Governor [Last Name].”

 Sample Letters

The following samples are letters that were sent by Chapter to elected officials:

Corbett & General Assembly RE-HTC Funding 4-11

Letter to Senator Casey re PATA.5.2.2012