To our letter-writers ...

September 28, 2004

With a national election only a few months away, it's time to remind letter writers of the ways in which we can help each other. They include:

· The Herald-Mail has limited space to print letters. We will print as many election-related letters as possible until the Sunday before the election. If you're thinking about writing, please do it sooner rather than later.

Every year we must return a dozen or more letters that have been dropped off at our offices at the last minute. We'd rather print your letter than return it to you, so please send it as early as possible.

· To give as many people as possible a chance to express their views, please try to hold letters to 250 words.


· E-mail is preferable to a faxed or typewritten letter, because that means we won't have to reset it. We'll accept the other kind, of course, but it's easier for us to get e-mailed letters into the paper quickly.

· Please include your name, address and daytime phone number with your letter, so we can call you if there's a problem. We will not share your private information with anyone.

· Elected officials are public figures, which means they have to put up with a lot of criticism. We're still not going to print personal attacks against candidates or incumbents. When the election is over, we're all going to have to live and work together, so let's conduct a debate without being ugly about it.

· If you're writing about a position that a candidate has taken, please cite your sources, so that we can keep the debate fact-based as much as possible. Many Web sites, for example, present conspiracy theories as if they were fact.

· The Sunday Opinion section is pre-printed at noon on Friday, so as a practical matter we need letters that you'd like run on Sunday in hand by the preceding Wednesday.

· If you need to talk about a letter, please e-mail us at, or call 301-791-7622 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Thank you.

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