How to Cite a Debate

Sometimes the best sources for your paper don't come from an authored book. The sources come from everywhere, including debates. When using a quote from a debate or citing one of the speakers as a source of information, there are some special considerations to be made. The major citation styles, such as MLA or APA, don't provide exact instruction for citing a debate in the text or bibliography. Fortunately, citation is still possible. Simply use a format for a source similar to the debate.

MLA Citation

Write the in-text citation in the same manner as the MLA basic citation form but without the page number. The typical MLA form is placing an author's last name and a page number in parenthesis at the end of the sourced sentence. Cite the debate by placing the last name of the speaker being quoted inside the parenthesis at the end of the sentence. For example, a quote or information from debater Jim Anton's argument should appear in the research paper as (Anton).

Place the debate source in your Works Cited page in the same format as a radio or television interview. Write the last name of the debater source before a period and then the debater's first name. Follow that with a period.

Identify the source as a “Debate,” placing a period after the word. Write and underline the name of the debate, followed by a period. Write the location of the debate, a period, the city where the debate was held, a period and the date. Write the date as the day, month (abbreviated) and year, followed by a period.

Check your entry against the following example: Anton, Jim. Debate. Intercollegiate Regional Debate Tournament. St. Joseph Hall. Michigan City, IN. 31 Jan. 2011. Underline “Intercollegiate Regional Debate Tournament.”

APA Citation

Cite your source in the text by mentioning the debater's name in the sentence and placing the year that the debate occurred in parenthesis at the end of the sentence. Here's an example, using the sample information given for Jim Anton in the previous section: "Anton argues that students have a constitutional right to free lunch (2011)." If you don't mention the name, place the debater's last name and the year, separated by a comma, in parenthesis at the end of the sentence. The in-text citation should appear as (Anton, 2011).

Write the citation for the Works Cited page as you would an APA style entry for a conference proceeding. Write the last name of the debater, followed by a comma and the debater's first name. Place the date of the debate in parenthesis followed by a period.

Place the name of the debate, underlined, next. Follow it with a period. Enter the city and state where the debate was located, followed by a colon and publisher of the printed transcript. In lieu of the transcript, place the name of the institution that sponsored the debate.

Check your citation against this example: Anton, Jim. (2011). Intercollegiate Regional Debate Tournament. Michigan City, IN: Stanislaus University.


  • The point of these citations is to document all of the information about the source that you possibly can. Get all of the information that you'll need from the debate before you leave the event. That's the best way to provide the most accurate and complete citation.


About the Author

Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.