Petitions help draw attention to your cause and attract support among like-minded people willing to take a stand on an issue. Petitions establish the level of support or interest in something and seek to communicate that support to decision-makers or others who might be influential in the issue your petition addresses. If your work requires frequent advocacy on behalf of individuals or organisations, you might consider creating a petition template to facilitate the speedy and accurate production of petitions.
Launch the word processor of your choice and open a blank document. Windows users can use Notepad, which comes installed with the operating system. Other options include Microsoft Word (for Windows or Mac) or Writer, which is included in the open-source and free-to-download OpenOffice suite (www.openoffice.org) for Windows or Mac users. You can also use Google Documents if you wish.
Create an address section at the top left of the document. For the purpose of the template, you can use filler text that will be replaced later with the address of your recipient.
Write the body of your petition. Create some space between your address block and the body. Three spaces should suffice. Write "To whom it may concern" as a generic recipient title for your template. Insert two lines below the title and begin the section that will contain the substance of your petition. As a placeholder for your template, create a general statement. For example, you might be lobbying to save a local animal shelter. You could begin, "We are opposed to the closure of the animal shelter." Remember that this is a template. You will add the final text when you compose your petition.
Add a signature block. Insert two lines between the end of your body text and the beginning of your signature block. Insert the word "Signed" or "Sincerely." Insert four spaces and type out your name. Add "Author of the petition" after your name. The space is where you will affix your written signature.
Create the petition signature section. Open a new document and create three column headings: "Signature," "Address" and "Zip code." You can add a fourth column to include e-mail if you wish. Separate them by tab stops. Insert two or three spaces below the headings and create numbered lines. Type your numbers in ascending order and insert a line that stretches across the page beneath each heading. You can create the line by typing the "underscore" key until you achieve the line length you require. At the bottom of the page, include a one-sentence explanation of the petition. For example, you might write, "Keep the Shelter Open."
Write your petition. Return to the letter page. Fill in the address of your recipient. Give careful thought to your target audience. Address your petition to someone with the authority to take action on your requests, or someone in a position to advise a decision-maker.
Compose the body of your petition. State your demands clearly and concisely, including your reasons for making the demand. For example, give specific examples of the benefits of the local animal shelter and the consequences for the community if it closes.
Seek feedback on your petition. Ask a friend or colleague to read it over for grammatical errors, style and tone. You want to be firm but respectful, polite and determined.
Print the letter. Print out at least five copies of the signature pages. Sign your name above where you have written it. Ask other people to sign on the signature sheets.