Small towns like Kennett Square, Chadds Ford and Unionville as well as their surrounding country suburbs can create plenty of excitement and controversy. That's why local newspapers are vital in spreading the word and letting people know what's going on.

Local newspapers also give readers a chance to express their opinions publicly by writing letters to the editor. That's what this editorial is about.

We welcome these letters because they let people know how their friends are feeling about issues. A well-written letter can incite political action and get residents out to meetings that would otherwise go unattended.

With that said, we invite you to write to us, whether you agree or disagree with what we have published. We also welcome letters commenting on issues that may be national or international in scope that aren't directly addressed in a local paper.

When you write a letter there are some guidelines to follow and some points you should know.

First, a brief letter is a better letter. If you have a point to make in 500 words, you can make it better if you slim it down to 300. This rule applies for several reasons, the main one being that people get bored and bogged down in long letters with too many adverbs, adjectives and ideas going off in all directions. The other reason is that it's easier to fit a short letter on the page when we have limited space. Often we put long letters aside for a week or two because they just won't fit for the time being.

The second guideline is about content. You can disagree with others' positions on issues, but don't go name-calling. And don't make accusations unless you cite actual fact. It's better to qualify your letter by saying that you disagree with this or that statement -- not that someone is no-good so-and-so.

The third guideline is about signing your name. We must have your name, address and telephone number, although the number and street address won't be published. We need that information to verify who is sending us mail and that the writer is a real person.

Also, the sender must take responsibility for the content. To wit, there is no such thing as "we think" or "we believe" unless you are the Pope or a newspaper editor speaking for the publication. Otherwise, speak for yourself. One person writes a letter, and that person signs it, period. If you are eager to say that you are speaking for a group, say that your friends agree with you, but don't double- or triple-sign.

We regret that we can't print letters that express your gratitude to sponsoring organizations or businesses for your events. If you want to let the world know that such-and-such a store contributed food to your picnic, take out an advertisement.

Finally, please realize that we want to get your letters in as fast as possible, but sometimes space restraints force us to wait. Also, if your grammar and spelling are off, we reserve the right to correct them.

Finally, if your letter is totally off the wall or the contents are really in bad taste, we reserve the right not to publish or to publish merely segments.

With that said, good luck. And drop us a line at The Kennett Paper, 112 E. State St., Kennett Square, PA 19348 or

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