13 The Op-Ed Writing Template

notebook open with pencil and pencil sharpener on fresh page

Throughout this open textbook, students from my Consumer Behaviour classes at Kwantlen Polytechnic University have generously contributed their own essays in the form of opinion editorials (or “op-eds”) to contextualize the concepts and infuse their own perspectives. I have been using the op-ed assignment for many years after adapting it from a Persuasive Writing course I took several years ago.

In my course, we have watched a number of documentaries (The Cola Conquest; Pink Ribbons Inc.; Minimalism; The Mask You Live In; Angry Inuk) so students have mostly written about the events in these films. Documentaries provide a great way to contextualize the concepts in this open textbook and make them more relevant.

What I like about this framework is that instructors can modify it (length, complexity) and students can write about what interests them and include their own perspective and lived experiences. I also abbreviate this assignment to a “single paragraph of persuasive writing” when I teach online, and then have students share their work through peer review.

The Op-Ed Writing Template


Students can be directed to write on a specific topic, film, or event in the news, or encouraged to write about what is important, relevant, and interesting to them.


  • The op-ed should be objective, persuasive, and evidence-based.
  • It should contain at least one concept from the open textbook that can be defined and enriched through the use of relevant examples.
  • The op-ed should also make space for the author’s perspective, belief’s, and lived experience(s) at the end of the piece.


I would invite students to first read some of the op-eds in this open textbook so they can practice identifying the various components that make up our op-ed. I have also included a scaffolding exercise on the next page so students can practice analyzing op-eds before embarking on their own writing project.

Before the writing begins

  1. Watch the documentary: take detailed notes of events, quotes, and peoples’ names for easy reference.
  2. Brainstorm concepts: make a list of various concepts and how you believe they connect with the events in the film.
  3. Select a concept: from your list, identify the concept(s) that are most interesting to you that you would like to explore more in your writing. Make sure you can identify examples (quotes, events) from the film that relate to your chosen concept(s)

When you are ready to draft the op-ed

  1. Begin with a thesis! Your thesis is an argument in the form of a statement that suggests you are out ot prove something. Your thesis should address why this concept is relevant or critical to the documentary, or the subject of the documentary itself. Try to not make it too obvious of a point; consider that your thesis is something you are setting out to prove and you need evidence on your side to do that.
  2. Define your concept(s): there are many ways to do this. You can draw from this open textbook or from another source of your choosing. Be sure to cite any ideas that aren’t your own, even if paraphrasing the definition from a source.
  3. Organize your evidence: to support your thesis, come up with more than one example from the documentary that will make your writing evidence-based and persuasive. Ensure you have your citations as well; are you citing quotes from someone in the film? Data that was presented? Or an event? Make sure you cite your sources.
  4. Reflect and conclude: your own personal reflective statements can serve provide a gentle transition into a conclusion. This is where you can also speak more personally in your op-ed: use “I” or “me” statements here, whereas in the rest of the piece you want to ensure you are being evidence and fact-based in your writing (e.g. no personal opinions and neutral language).
  5. Give your op-ed a title: brainstorm several different titles! And give your piece the title at the end because you will likely rework your writing several times before it’s completed. Try to come up with a title that is relevant, memorable, provocative, and invites the reader to learn more.

Structure summary

  • Title/Headline: give your write up a headline that captures the reader’s attention. It should be connected and relevant to your thesis statement. I would recommend doing this at the end, after you’ve completed your writing and editing!
  • Introduction & thesis: a statement in the opening paragraph that encompasses your argument (the thing you are trying to prove). Learn more about writing a thesis here and here. Include a cited definition of the (consumer behaviour) concept(s) you have selected.
  • Argument(s): A persuasive (convincing) evidence-based (factual) argument that logically supports your thesis by connecting your chosen (consumer behaviour) concept(s) with examples from the documentary.
  • Reflection & Conclusion: Your own reflective thoughts on the topic you have written about and a concluding statement for your piece.
  • References: in the format required by your instructor.

(Self) Evaluation

There are many different ways to evaluate the op-ed: I encourage instructors to work closely with students and provide feedback more so than grades themselves. However, if a rubric is required, then the table below can be used as a starting point. It has been created in H5P so users can modify and adapt this so meet their own specific needs.

Table that lists the criteria against which the op-ed could be evaluated and given specific feedback. Criteria includes: relevance of title; definition of concept and clarity of thesis; evidence and examples to support argument; personal reflection and concluding statements. Criteria can be scored out of 2; feedback and suggestions should be given to the writer to encourage revisioning.

not completed
somewhat completed
fully completed
Title: relevant: engaging; invites curiosity.
Thesis & concept: clearly defined concept; thesis sets out to prove something.
Evidence: relevant examples; connection made between concept and film (or topic of op-ed).
Reflection & Conclusion: personal and related to op-ed topic; connects to conclusion.

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