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How to Write an Open Letter — Three Easy Steps

How to Write an Open Letter — Three Easy Steps

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Not everyone can craft business letters, let alone write something intentionally for the sake of drawing attention to an issue.

Writing an open letter not only needs language skills; it also entails guts, critical thinking, overall consideration of the matter, and levelheadedness.

Our post today discusses writing an open letter in three easy steps for readability and understandability.

Let’s begin with a concise answer to our inquiry.


How can we write an open letter?

Writing an open letter, a type of letter meant to be publicized to address a particular issue, generally entails a what-why-how logic throughout the paragraphs. The “what” part introduces the problem; the “why” explains the writer’s motivation, and the “how” section contains the proposed solution.


Defining an open letter and knowing its pros and cons

Business correspondence entails writing multivarious types of letters which include recommendation letters, cover letters, resumes, and open letters.

Writing all these texts can be taxing, confusing, and time-consuming for many, especially those who do not regularly engage in business correspondence.

For example, first-time job applicants need to dedicate time in researching the meaning behind certain job application statuses to keep themselves aware of the next actions to take.

Or, job applicants, in general, may also come across a situation where they would need to know how to respond to a job offer without accepting it due to some practical reasons.

That said, learning how to write an open letter also has its fair share of challenges, which may be overcome by understanding what it exactly is and what it entails.


The definition of an open letter

An open letter is a type of formal document that is typically addressed to the government as a whole or its officials, the public, or any other person of influence.

In general, open letters are meant to be seen and read by the public for the sake of drawing attention towards a particular issue.

Some of the other motivations for writing an open letter incude: to inform the addressee, to open a formal discussion, or to appeal or protest on a concern.

In the modern age, open letters are also made and published online by “concerned” citizens in response to a previously-written open letter.

These open letter responses may support, criticize, reprimand, or offer advice to the other writer of an open letter.

One of the most famous open letters in history is that of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” whose content focuses on breaking social injustices.

By and large, open letters usually, but not necessarily, contain ideological concepts related to culture and politics.

Issues such as political correctness, discrimination, inequality, forms of aggression or violence, and the like are critically discussed in open letters.

In the academe, open letters are a highly relevant source of data for studies that make use of critical discourse analysis and other related methodologies.

In sum, open letters are important in changing (or at least trying) the existing state of affairs that dominates the society of a particular group of people.


The pros and cons of an open letter

Evidently enough, open letters are vital documents because they create awareness by putting important matters on the spotlight.

That is, open letters are a great tool for shedding light on action-worthy concerns that significantly affect either an individual or a large group of people.

However, as open letters are meant to be read by the public, the writer may also be put at risk if and when things get out of hand.

For instance, an open letter dedicated to a founder of a company that may contain disparaging or mocking information could get the writer fired – or worse, sued.

To prevent the undermentioned negative circumstances, critical thinking, consideration, and reasonabilty should always be the writer’s guiding principles.

That is to say, open letters must not be indiscriminately written just for the sake of complaining about a “perceived” issue that can be dealt with in less controversial ways.

Moreover, it is needless to say that the topic to be covered in an open letter should also be conversation-and-action-worthy rather than trivial.

Open letters need to maintain an unbiased stance as well as a polite tone all throughout the paragraphs to preserve the integrity of the writer and all other people involved.

Most importantly, open letters must not be written at the height of strong, negative emotions like anger and frustration to avoid crafting subjective arguments.


Steps to writing the general parts of an open letter

Open letters mainly follow a simple what-why-how logic which entails a discussion of the issue at hand, the motivation for writing, and the proposed solution to the problem.

But, before we can start writing these parts in detail, we apparently need to have a target issue as well as a target audience first.

The target issue may range from narrow topics like the challenges of writing a problem statement for a thesis to something bigger such as forms of social injustices.

Meanwhile, the target audience can be an individual such as the self or the president; it can also be a larger group such as all employees of a company or all the citizens of a country.

Once these two main elements are clearly determined, starting to write the main parts should be relatively easier.

Here are these parts in detail:


Step 1: Writing the issue (What)

The issue is composed of the details of the problem or topic that the writer wants to discuss in the letter.

This should be clearly stated in the first paragraph together with some introductory statements that offer contextualization.

One way to start this part is by incorporating famous adages that express general truth, such as as follows:


Confucius once said, “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”

Afterward, the chosen quote may already be linked to the target issue to be addressed in the open letter.


Having this guiding principle in mind made me realize how both demanding and rewarding it actually is to write a problem statement for a thesis.

The last line should then briefly explain the overall content of the open letter to set the reader’s expectations.


In this open letter, I discuss the importance of empirical inquisitiveness as well as how I think students should go about the topic to succeed in the field of research.


Step 2: Writing the motivation (Why)

The motivation for writing the open letter refers to the set of reasons as to why the writer has chosen the specific topic in discussion.

This part may be started by laying out either the advantages or disadvantages of the chosen issue or topic.


Deciding on a main research question for a thesis may take a lot of time and effort – this is true among all student and regular researchers alike.

Then, supporting arguments should follow afterwards.


One reason for this is that a wide range of world issues already exists, including broad and specific ones. Or, your topic of interest may have already been covered by previous researchers. For these reasons, it becomes naturally difficult to come up with a problem researchable and valuable enough to start your thesis with.

The next thing to do is to reconcile the gaps expllicitly mentioned or at least implied in the previous paragraph.


However, doing research is meanwhile a fundamental process needed in the sustainable development of civilizations. Without research, world problems will likely remain unsolved, thereby prohibiting field-specific and general advancements. That is to say, coming up with a good research question is essentially the very first step in making progress happen.


Step 3: Writing the solution (How)

Last but not least is the solution part; this one refers to the actions that the writer wants to suggest doing.

This is likely composed of ideas as to how the target readers should go about the problem being tackled in the letter.

Moreover, starting this paragraph also entails knowing effective transition words for your conclusion because this is meant to sum up the purpose of your letter.

An encouraging yet objective tone is necessary for this part. 


Therefore, I humbly encourage all students who struggle in coming up with a good research question to start by finding ways to link your personal interests to a larger issue that affects a substantial number of people. Also, I urge you all to think of something that is not only relevant in the present times but also to the upcoming generations. Always remember that the future is dependent on your ability to come up with an indispensable research question.


Open Letter Example

To see how the explained parts work in another context, here is an example covering another topic that is dedicated to another set of audience:

How to Write an Open Letter Sample Letter


Frequently Asked Questions on “How to write an open letter”


What does an “open letter” mean?

An open letter is a type of text that aims to draw attention towards an issue that may affect an individual or a large group of people. Open letters are meant to be publicized and, therefore, it is also meant to attract critical responses from readers. 


What is the structure of an open letter?

Just like any other types of formal letters in business correspondence, the general structure of an open letter is as follows: introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction presents the issue or topic, the body explains the motivation for writing, and the conclusion offers solutions to the problem.


How do you end an open letter?

To end an open letter, a solution to the problem in discussion needs to be proposed by the writer. This part is needs to be made up of call-to-action statements that should encourage readers to respond accordingly. 



Writing an open letter can be a draining task; however, just like any other activity out there, practice is the only key to get this done.

So, never hesitate to draft your first open letter during your free time. You can start by dedicating it to your past or future self, your friends, or your family.