How Do I Create an Outline for a Debate Paper?

A debate outline will prepare students to write persuasive debate papers.

Creating a useful outline for a debate first requires the student to pick a debate paper or persuasive paper. If the student has free choice, it is important the person pick a topic that they have an interest in learning more about as creating an outline and paper for a controversial topic will require plenty of research. The number of sections for the debate outline should match the number of paragraphs that the instructor requires for the debate paper.

Select an interesting, controversial topic that has at least two distinct sides. The topic does not have to be a major issue, like tax reform, but should affect people and have two sides.

Write Roman numeral I. This begins the outline. Next to this heading, write a thesis statement. This statement should state the topic in a clear, interesting way to indicate to readers what the outline will be about.

Write Roman numeral II for the first body paragraph. Write the first point that will be made in the debate paper. Underneath the II, write the letter "A," then "B" underneath the "A." These two letters should be capitalized, and students should write important pieces of the main point that they plan to include in their debate paper.

Repeat step three to represent the rest of the body paragraphs of the debate paper, and the student should continue to use higher Roman numerals as they list more points that they plan to make in their paper, still putting at least an "A" and "B" underneath each Roman numeral. For a standard five-paragraph essay, for example, the body paragraphs would be labeled III and IV. Next to each Roman numeral, students need to list an additional example, statistics, or other information that is relevant and important to the debate topic.

Finish the outline with the next Roman numeral for the conclusion. Again, for a standard five paragraph essay, a student would use the V. Next to this, the student will restate the thesis statement from the first section in a new, fresh way.

  • Always follow the directions given by the instructor to ensure the best grade. Students should always ask questions for clarification if there is something they don't understand.
  • In addition, the outline should not be biased if the student is supposed to show both sides. However, if the assignment is to argue one side, then the writer should still bring up the opposing viewpoint and provide counterpoints to the other side's strongest arguments. Also, the more detailed and thorough the debate outline, the easier the paper will be to write later.

Shawndra Russell started freelancing professionally for several outlets in 2010, covering arts and entertainment, culture and society, health and fitness, sports and recreation, and travel. Russell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Ashland University and her Master of Arts in English from Marshall University.