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Flowing: the act of recording the debate; writing down what you plan on saying and what your partner and opponents say



For many debaters, flowing in different colors can make the flow much easier to understand. For instance, gov may be red, while opp is blue.

Alternatively, each speech may be a different color. If you try this strategy, the gov speeches may be warm colors, while the opp may be cooler.


PMC: red

LOC: blue

MGC: orange MOC: green

LOR: purple PMR: yellow

(Notice how the colors go down the rainbow.)


Depending on how many colors you plan on using, you may want to consider color retractable ballpoint pens.


If you and your partner decide that changing the font color is too time-consuming when the flow is computerized, then you may want to consider replacing the different colors with font changes that can be accomplished via keyboard shortcuts.

EX: bold (command + B)

italics (command + I)

underlined (command + U)



It can be difficult to listen to the speaker while writing down their thoughts and recording your own refutations. Thus, many debaters use short hand to summarize the main ideas. It can be especially helpful to coordinate a common shorthand with your partner so that you can read each other's flows.


C1 = contention #1

CC1 = counter-contention #1

AD1 = advantage #1

DA1 = disadvantage #1

C = claim

D = data

W = warrant

I = impact

QoL = quality of life

Ppl = people

USFG = United States Federal Government

(Upward arrow) = increases

(Downward arrow) = decreases

–> = causes/leads to

(Three dots arranged in triangle) = therefore

&/+ = and



There are many different ways to flow! It may be helpful to try them all out and decide which style works best for you.

1. Columns


Document the round via six vertical columns (one per speech) via five drawn lines or physical creases. Flow each speech on the assigned column. Draw errors to indicate which arguments are flowed across. Slash through arguments that are taken out.


The digital columns method closely replicates the physical experience. Usually, debaters use a spreadsheet to mimic the physical columns.

This is one of the most common ways to flow. Coaches frequently teach this method.

2. Gov vs. Opp


Alternatively, debaters may consider a more informal, personalized way of flowing. They assign one page to the government team, and another to the opposition. The gov's page has the on-case, while the opp's page has the off-case. As the debate progresses, the flower tacks refutations onto the appropriate parts of the case.

Note: Instead of dedicating the entire front of a page to the on-case and the entire back to the off-case, you may opt to split the page in half–the left/upper half for the gov, and the right/lower half for the opp. This can be accomplished by drawing a line or folding the paper.


Digitally, the process is slightly different. Debaters can just record the arguments down the flow.

3. Page per Argument

An entire page is dedicated to each individual argument on both the on- and off-cases. This form of flowing tends to be more disorganized and less efficient, but if it works, it works!


Partner-to-Partner Communication


Though not necessarily illegal, verbally communicating with your partner during round appears unprofessional and disrespectful to the speaker. Instead, consider passing notes (i.e. sticky notes) to your partner with rebuttals or questions.


When competing online, debaters oftentimes text their partners with suggestions or questions.

Alternatively, many partners share a document that they flow on together. This poses two more options: (one) to pull up the chat on the doc or (two) to agree upon a certain font color, size, style, etc. that indicates a message.


Ultimately, flowing is designed for you! There is no one correct way to go about it. It may take some trial and error, but all partners eventually work out an efficient and effective system.

Do whatever works for you, no matter how much it makes you look like a serial killer.

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