How to Prepare a Tear Sheet

Things You'll Need

  • Published piece of writing in actual publication it was printed in
  • Computer
  • Computer scanner and/or photocopier

In the writing profession the term tear sheet refers to a sample copy of the published work of a writer that is sent to an editor. In the days before technology like personal computers and scanners came into wide spread use a tear sheet was a page literally torn from the page of a publication or a photo copy of the page. Nowadays the modern incarnation of the tear sheet comes in the form of a PDF. Including tear sheets with query letters pitching ideas to editors is an elemental part of the process to securing steady work as a writer.

Obtain a copy of the publication in which your written work has been printed and published.

Scan and save a copy of the published page containing the example of writing to your computer hard drive or to a disk or removable thumb drive. Use only the first page of the published clip if it runs more than one page.

Attach the electronic file to each email query to an editor soliciting work and note that the virtual tear sheet is a recently published sample of your work. It is best to paste a copy in the body of the email as some editors are hesitant to open PDF files.

Make photocopies of the first page of the published sample of writing. Be sure the copy is clear and readable. The clip will prove not only that you are a published writer, but serve as a sample of your writing, too.

Include a photocopied tear sheet will each query letter sent by standard mail. In the query letter note the tear sheets that are included and from what publication they’re from.

Use two to three published clips in the form of tear sheets with each query letter sent when prospecting for work as a writer. Tear sheets prove that a writer is familiar with the business and capable of producing publishable work and make for a wise compliment to any query letter.


For email queries include one tear sheet but tell the editor you are happy to provide more on request. Loading up an email to an editor with PDFs should be avoided. Include an excerpt of the sample clip in the body of the email and attach the pertinent PDF to the email.

Don’t use writing that has been published on content websites or and other obscure on-line outlets that eagerly accept a wide range of amateur work with little discretion and low editorial standards.