Writing Taglines with EASE

By Christina Tallungan

Writing taglines for evidence can be tricky.  There is no one exact right tagline for every card so it is helpful to remember some basic guidelines:

Efficiency –
Write taglines without flowery language and cliches.
Avoid unnecessary adverbs or adjectives, e.g., completely, totally, probably, somewhat.
Substitute commas or dashes for conjunctions like “because” or “due to”
Do NOT write “in order to” instead of just writing “to.”

Accuracy –
Re-read evidence before tagging it in a file – make sure it accurately reflects the author’s
conclusion or argument.
Do NOT overstate your evidence, e.g., say the impact is extinction when the card does not say
Consider the strategy of using evidence, but do NOT manipulate words in the evidence to make
argument that is not supported by the author.
Make sure the relationship you are expressing in the tagline is actually said in the evidence, e.g.,
an author saying that “global warming causes sea level rise” cannot be changed to “sea level
rise causes global warming.”   Debaters have a tendency to look for evidence that has key
words and overlook the relationship the author makes between those key words. Double check
your thinking and do NOT get overly excited because you found a card with key words.

Strategy –
Consider how this piece of evidence will be used in a debate round before writing the tagline.
The purpose for the card will determine the starting point for the tagline.  For example,  a uniqueness card for the military recruitment DA will not start by saying “Economic recession
causes an increase in military recruitment.”  While that tagline is accurate, it is not framed in an
ideal manner as a uniqueness card.  It will help the judge understand the purpose of the card
better if is it framed more clearly as “High military recruitment now – impoverished youth.”

Examples –
This section could have been called “Warrants,” but that did not sound as good.  Examples are
the data in the evidence that proves your overall argument in the tagline true.  These are the
parts that you will need to highlight in a comparative warrant debate.  As a result, include these
in your taglines, e.g., “Political capital high now –
State of the Union address.  This example
shows how someone can include quick examples in a tagline to distinguish your evidence from an

There is an activity that is attached for some practice writing taglines.

Writing Taglines Activity – Fall 2009