Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Types of Debate - A Complete Overview & Examples

13 min read

Published on: Jan 4, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 4, 2023

types of debate

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Debates provide various positive benefits for the students. It increases the opportunity for listening and speaking in the classroom.

Therefore, debate writing requires proper structure to support and present the claim.

Similarly, there are different types of debates used at the high school or college level. Each type has two sides, along with its format.

However, the main aim is to engage and persuade the audience. 

Most students are not good at writing debates because they are often unfamiliar with the major types.

If you are one of them, read this detailed guide to get an idea about the forms of debating and examples.

What is the Debate?

A debate is a formal and organized argument where the participants discuss a subject from two opposing sides. Each topic has two sides. Those who agree with the idea are on the "Pro" side. However, those who disagree are on the "Con" side.

Each side presents the argument clearly to engage the audience. For this, relevant examples and evidence are used to support the claim.

The primary purpose of a debate is to convince the audience that your viewpoint is right. Moreover, a mediator decides the winner during formal debate tournaments. Nevertheless, the informal debate continues until the time when any one of the debate team gives up.

On the other hand, a writer needs to follow the proper format and structure for writing a debate. Remember, a well-written debate will leave a long-lasting impression on the audience.

Types of Debate

Below are the types of debates that are popular and will help you to get started.

  • Team Policy Debate

    Team policy debates consist of two teams, each with two debaters. Here, the structure includes the following elements.

    • Eight speeches
    • Four constructive speeches
    • Four rebuttals
    • Four periods of cross-examination

    The primary objective of team policy debate is to present a huge amount of evidence quickly and coherently. Moreover, these are most commonly used in middle school or high school debates.

    Below given is the basic format of a team policy debate.

    First Affirmative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-Examination of the 1st affirmative3 minutes
    First Negative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-examination of the 1st negative3 minutes
    Second Affirmative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-Examination of the 2nd affirmative3 minutes
    Second Negative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-Examination of the 2nd negative3 minutes
    First Negative Rebuttal15 minutes
    First Affirmative Rebuttal5 minutes
    Second Negative Rebuttal15 minutes
    Second Affirmative Rebuttal5 minutes

    Check out the example for a better understanding.

  • Cross-Examination Debate

    Cross-examination is a new type of two-on-two college debate. It is mainly defined as a period between speeches. Here, the opponent debaters ask questions to clarify and understand each other’s points of information.

    It consists of resolutions that are not related to policy. Similarly, this kind of debate is based on values where evidence can be presented.

    Moreover, a cross-examination debate provides you with an opportunity to engage with your opponent. It further demonstrates your confidence to become a persuasive speaker that helps you win more points.

    Here is a detailed format structure of the cross-examination debate.

    1st Affirmative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-examination by 2nd Negative3 minutes
    1st Negative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-examination by 1st Affirmative3 minutes
    2nd Affirmative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-examination by 1st Negative3 minutes
    2nd Negative Constructive8 minutes
    Cross-examination by 2nd Affirmative3 minutes
    1st Negative Rebuttal5 minutes
    1st Affirmative Rebuttal5 minutes
    2nd Negative Rebuttal5 minutes
    2nd Affirmative Rebuttal5 minutes

    Refer to the below example of the cross-examination debate.

  • Lincoln-Douglas Debate

    Lincoln-Douglas is an open style of debate. It is mainly inspired by the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in the 1850s.

    Moreover, this is a one-on-one debate that focuses on arguing for or against a topic. Here, the participants agree on the time limits and topics beforehand.

    For example, in the United States presidential debates, one debate is entirely focused on domestic policy. At the same time, the other one is devoted to foreign policy.

    You can also check out our blog to get interesting debate topics.

    The main purpose of the Lincoln-Douglas debates is to speak persuasively, clearly, and logically. Similarly, it is very structured in nature and allows people to express their viewpoints openly.

    A typical format of the Lincoln-Douglas debate is as follows.

    Speaker A: Making the case6 minutes
    Speaker B: Cross-examination of speaker A3 minutes
    Speaker B: First rebuttal7 minutes
    Speaker A: Cross-examination of speaker B3 minutes
    Speaker A: First rebuttal4 minutes
    Speaker B: Final rebuttal5 minutes
    Speaker A: Closing rebuttal5 minutes

    Have a look at the below example to get a better idea.

  • Spontaneous Argumentation

    Spontaneous argumentation includes two debaters that argue on a particular topic. Firstly, they take enough prep time for a debate topic and then present the argument.

    These types of debate essays are often used in college and university classrooms. Moreover, it also helps in decreasing the anxiety of a speaker by building confidence.

    However, it does not require detailed research work. Thus, the writer focuses more on presentation and style rather than the content.

    The spontaneous argumentation debate format is given below.

    Affirmative Case3 minutes
    Cross-Examination of the Affirmative1.5 minutes
    Negative Case3 minutes
    Cross-Examination of the Negative1.5 minutes
    Negative Counter-Arguments2 minutes
    Affirmative Counter-Arguments2 minutes
    Negative Closing Statement2 minutes
    Affirmative Closing Statement2 minutes

    Refer to the document for a detailed example.

  • Public Forum Debate

    Public forum debate is considered as audience friendly and a current events debate. It includes two teams of debaters that argue on monthly controversial topics.

    The round begins with a coin toss between the competing debate teams. It is required to determine which side, either Pro or Con, will present their argument first. Each debate team will be given 3 minutes to prepare the topic.

    Furthermore, it consists of eight speeches and three crossfires but each with a time limit. The winner is further decided by a judge who serves as a referee.

    Lastly, this type of debate is used to test the students’ argumentation, cross-examination, and refutation skills.

    The following is a format structure of public forum debate.

    Speaker 1 – Constructive Speech (Pro or Con)4 minutes
    Speaker 2 – Constructive Speech (Pro or Con)4 minutes
    Cross-fire3 minutes
    Speaker 3 – Rebuttal Speech (Pro or Con)4 minutes
    Speaker 4 — Rebuttal Speech (Pro or Con)4 minutes
    Cross-fire3 minutes
    Speaker 1 –- Summary2 minutes
    Speaker 2 – Summary2 minutes
    Grand cross-fire3 minutes
    Speaker 3 –- Final Focus2 minutes
    Speaker 4 – Final Focus2 minutes

    Check out the below example of a public forum debate.

  • Parliamentary Debate

    Similar to the spontaneous types of debate arguments, parliamentary debates do not require thorough research. The resolutions are decided only 10 minutes before a round of debate starts. Similarly, it greatly emphasized logic and persuasiveness.

    They are referred to as “parliamentary” because of their similar nature to the debates that occur in the British parliament. Thus, such types of debates are mainly used in parliaments and assemblies.

    Moreover, it consists of the following elements.

    Two teams, each with two debaters
    Six speeches
    Four constructive speeches
    Two rebuttal speeches
    The format structure of the parliamentary debate is as follows.

    First proposition constructive speech7 minutes
    First opposition constructive speech8 minutes
    Second proposition constructive speech8 minutes
    Second opposition constructive speech8 minutes
    Opposition rebuttal4 minutes
    Proposition rebuttal5 minutes

    Here is a detailed example to get a better understanding.

Types of Debates Examples

Check out the document for some more types of debate examples.

Choosing the correct debate type is indeed confusing for most students. But the above guide will help you identify the right one for writing your debate.

If you are still unsure about your writing capabilities, the best option is to get help from a professional paper writer. However, not every writing service has qualified and experienced experts. Thus, make sure you choose a reliable and authentic service. is an online essay writing service with the most professional team of writers. We have subject specialists with the right expertise to draft a perfect debate for you.

Similarly, we guarantee to deliver your work within the given deadline and according to the chosen types of debate formats. We assure you that by choosing us, you will receive high-quality content at reasonable prices.

For further satisfaction, you can also check out the customer reviews on our website. All you have to do is to contact our support team and place your order now.

Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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