Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Types of Debate - A Complete Overview & Examples

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types of debate

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

Formal debates can be conducted in various different formats. Knowing the format of your debate is essential for structuring and presenting your arguments effectively. 

So what are these different types of debate formats?

Read this detailed guide to get an idea about the forms of debating with examples.

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  • 1. Brief Overview of Debate Writing
  • 2. Types of Debate
  • 3. Types of Debates Examples

Brief Overview of Debate Writing

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

Each side presents the argument to persuade the audience of their point of view. They achieve this by presenting relevant examples and evidence 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 popular types of debate writing that will help you get started.

Team Policy Debate

Team policy debates involve two teams, each with two debaters. These are the most commonly used types of debates in high school and middle school. Here, the structure includes the following elements.

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

This debate consists of an affirmative team that supports a proposition, and a negative team that argues against it. The primary objective of team policy debate is to present a huge amount of evidence quickly and coherently.

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 another type of two-on-two 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.

A cross-examination debate provides you with an opportunity to engage with your opponent.

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.

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 get a short prep time for a debate topic and then present the argument.

These types of debate speeches 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. So the speaker focuses more on presentation and style rather than the content. Moreover, it also helps in decreasing the anxiety of a speaker by building confidence.

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 ongoing 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. 

They are referred to as “parliamentary” because they are similar to the debates that occur in the British parliament. Such types of debates are mainly used by decision-making bodies.

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.

Expert Tip

Want to win your next debate? Check out our blog about different types of debate techniques to improve your debating skills.

Types of Debates Examples

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

To reiterate, it is essential to know the format and type of the debate you’re participating in. With the help of the above guide, you now understand the various types and prepare your debate accordingly. 

If you are still unsure about your writing capabilities, the best option is to get help from a professional writer. is an 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.

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Cathy A.


Cathy A.

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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