Want to write a piece for the Financial Times op-ed page?

Read this first, say the people who edit it

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Every day, the Financial Times publishes one or two op-ed articles by guest writers: arguments and ideas that, whether we agree with them or not, have sharpened our opinions on something important. We are interested in all points of view, especially if they are at odds with what we have already printed.

Whether your submission is unsolicited or something we asked for, we will decide whether to publish it only after seeing a full draft. Then we ask: would FT readers kick themselves for missing this? Like them, we care about business, economics, technology and everything else that’s in the news. Our readership is global, so if you are writing about farming in Minnesota, consider how it moves the price of corn in Milan.

Read our op-eds but don’t emulate them. Since we aim to stand out, we reject pieces that would fit in. Make it personal. Tell us something others can’t, be funny or trade on who you are, whether that’s a penniless architect, a former bank chief or a pioneer of political spin. Public relations people make you sound like a press release, so give them a day off. If any like-minded person could have written your piece then assume someone has.

Even if your subject is abstract your writing shouldn’t be. Don’t just say output is increasing; describe the queues outside Tokyo pancake shops so readers actually see what you mean. A colourful quote or a telling anecdote is worth a thousand generalities.

Here are three unique perspectives that readers told us they enjoyed: an insider’s self-deprecating insight into the Washington machine; a small publisher’s surprising defence of Amazon; and an immigration lawyer’s dispiriting advice to Paddington bear.

Read them, then write something unlike them. As these writers did, put aside your convictions and ask: how can I make FT readers care what I think? If the issue is obscure or your opinion familiar, you can’t.

You have at most 800 words, just enough to make a persuasive case for a focused point. We are not flexible about this: no panoramas.

If we want to publish your piece we will ask you to sign a contract. You must certify that the work is yours and has not appeared elsewhere, even in another language. If we try to verify factual claims and find we can’t, you will need to provide evidence. You must declare any relevant interests. Self-serving pieces are rarely worth reading unless they say something unexpected, and we tell readers about such conflicts.

Your draft will often turn out to be a starting point. An editor might suggest ways of making the language zestier or the argument clearer. Unlike full-time writers, our contributors are not always accustomed to this. So rest assured that we will always show you a final version and, if we cannot agree, you can withdraw your piece.

It’s best to contact us by email. If you have a sharp take on news that is breaking now, send it right away, even if it’s rough. We acknowledge all messages, but reply personally only if there is a chance of publication. If you have not heard from us within three days, you are free to take your work elsewhere.

Among the FT’s 2m or so readers are people who make the biggest decisions in business and politics. If they need to hear from you, so do we.

Instructions on how to submit an article for publication on the opinion page can be found here

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