Neural implicit surfaces have emerged as an effective, learnable representation for shapes of arbitrary topology. However, representing open surfaces remains a challenge. Different methods, such as unsigned distance fields (UDF), have been proposed to tackle this issue, but a general solution remains elusive. The generalized winding number (GWN), which is often used to distinguish interior points from exterior points of 3D shapes, is arguably the most promising approach. The GWN changes smoothly in regions where there is a hole in the surface, but it is discontinuous at points on the surface. Effectively, this means that it can be used in lieu of an implicit surface representation while providing information about holes, but, unfortunately, it does not provide information about the distance to the surface necessary for e.g. ray tracing, and special care must be taken when implementing surface reconstruction. Therefore, we introduce the semi‐signed distance field (SSDF) representation which comprises both the GWN and the surface distance. We compare the GWN and SSDF representations for the applications of surface reconstruction, interpolation, reconstruction from partial data, and latent vector analysis using two very different data sets. We find that both the GWN and SSDF are well suited for neural representation of open surfaces.