Debates have been common in the United States since the late 1850s.

"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate." - Margaret Heffernan

Defending a debate position is something high school students need to master. While defending a position verbally is usually easy, defending on paper can be more difficult. With careful thought and preparation, writing a debate paper can increase confidence, debate and written skills. Researching a chosen or assigned debate paper topic needs to include information on the pros and cons of all sides of the argument.

Putting Together a Debate Paper

Researching a debate paper position helps students argue both sides in that paper. Take good notes on those research materials and write down sources for your information as you may want to cite them in your paper. As you research the main arguments, remember to look for supporting evidence. While the main argument in a debate paper is key, research for the argument response or rebuttal section needs that same evidence just as in a traditional debate speech.

Writing the Debate Essay

Next, write the introduction to the debate essay. The introduction tells your paper's reader what your chosen issue is and why the issue is important to you. Most importantly, the introduction explains your position on the issue is as well as providing a brief statement stating why you think you are correct. Also, write your body paragraphs. Each reason that you have for your position or each fact that you present needs to have its own body paragraph. When you state your reason or fact in the paragraph, you must be able to cite research in support of that data. In a debate paper, you cannot simply discuss emotional arguments or reactions to a topic.

Making A Rebuttal

As you would in a debate speech, draft a rebuttal paragraph or paragraphs to balance your own asserted arguments. A rebuttal paragraph addresses arguments that might arise from views on the opposite side of your asserted position. Construct the rebuttal paragraphs like the body paragraphs you have already written.


Write your conclusion. Be sure this last paragraph of your paper states the issue, your position, why it is important and why it is the correct one in your researched view. In the conclusion, one way to assert your position is by restating your thesis using different wording. If you have space to state why the opposing viewpoint is not correct, you can state that in the conclusion as well. The conclusion of your debate paper is also a place to discuss the need for further analysis, examination or citizen involvement of the presented issues. Stating those related concerns can also fit into this conclusion section.