How to bracket, cite, and tag evidence


            Getting evidence is critical in policy debate because you are expected to support most of your arguments with evidence. Evidence is material taken from published documents. Here’s how to do that:


Choose articles that have evidence in them. Evidence is two to seven sentences that makes a strong, well supported, concise argument.

This means put brackets around the two to sentences you chose as evidence like this: (this is the evidence).



Put the author, qualifications, date, book/magazine/government document name, and page number right before each piece of evidence.
If you get evidence from a web page, include the web page address and the day you looked at the web page.

Write a 4 to 9 word complete sentence that accurately and persuasively states the main point of the evidence.


Here is an example of a bracketed article:


Joseph Cirincione, Director, Non-Proliferation Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS, Jan 2000, p. 32.

If you thought the Senate’s rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was an historic tragedy, wait. It could get a lot worse. The battle over the test ban is part of a larger war over the future of the nonproliferation regime, the value of nuclear weapons, and America's role in the world. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott crystallized his views when, immediately after the vote against the test ban, he stood on the Senate floor to detail his recommended next steps. First, he said, "strengthen U.S. nuclear deterrence." Strengthen nuclear deterrence? [The United States already has the most sophisticated and expensive arsenal in the world, with more than 12,000 nuclear weapons of nine distinct designs refined through 1,030 nuclear tests conducted over 47 years and maintained by an elaborate scientific complex with tens of thousands of scientists and technicians. U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $5.5 trillion on these weapons, and they pay $9.5 billion a year to sustain and operate the nuclear weapons complex, including $4.5 billion per year for the controversial Stockpile Stewardship Program. Even if all the strategic arms accords now envisioned are implemented--a fast diminishing prospect--the United States plans to maintain more than 10,000 nuclear warheads in various stages of operational use or storage for the indefinite future, as detailed in the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review. Only the number of deployed warheads would vary, depending on which--if any--START agreement was in force. This means that by 2015, if Russian nuclear forces continue to deteriorate as now projected, and even if China pursues its current modernization plans, the U.S. arsenal will be five times the size of the arsenals of all the other nations in the world combined.] [One U.S. Trident missile carries about the same firepower as all the guns and all the bombs exploded in all the wars in history. But far-right politicians and weapons advocates do not believe this is enough. They want better, they want different, but most of all, they want more. In a political variant of severe paranoia, they seem divorced from the physical reality of the weapons they embrace, insatiably craving more protection from what they believe to be mounting, omnipresent threats. They are not interested in deals that lower numbers of deployed strategic warheads or limit missile defenses. They are not about liquidating excessive Cold War arsenals. They want large, deployed arrays of nuclear and conventional weapon systems and multiple, layered defenses. They reject any checks on American power. What's the point of being a hegemon, if you don't get to kick butt?] [This attitude is difficult for even America's closest allies to understand. The French, in particular, have strongly criticized the Senate vote and missile defense deployment plans. Prime Minister Lionel Jospin warned in late October that "the global strategic equilibrium would be threatened" if the international community "does not succeed in reining in an arms race which is clearly reviving," or if the U.S. temptation "to free itself from international discipline in the field of strategic weapons were to take more concrete form."[1] Both allies and adversaries see a United States that, 10 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, spends as if the Cold War still raged. The $280 billion defense budget dwarfs that of any possible foe and is more than the defense spending of the next eight nations combined.]


Here is an example of a tagged and cited piece of evidence:



General John M. Shalikashvili, Special Advisor to the President for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY, January 4, 2001,, Accessed May 22, 2001


Only the United States has both a compelling reason and the necessary resources to lead global non-proliferation efforts. I believe that U.S. leadership is absolutely essential to success. Persistent efforts to stem nuclear proliferation have been remarkably successful. The setback represented by the Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapon tests in 1998 does not outweigh the fact that a number of countries that had nuclear weapon programs have reversed or abandoned them, and some countries that inherited nuclear weapons have relinquished them. There is no valid reason for future congresses or administrations to give up defending this enduring American interest. For the sake of future generations, it would be unforgivable to neglect any reasonable action that can help prevent nuclear proliferation, as the Test Ban Treaty clearly would.


The capped line is the tag--the main point of the evidence.

The material beneath that is the citation with the author and publication information.

The remainder is the bracketed section of the article that makes up the evidence.

You’d use this argument to support a policy of supporting the test ban treaty.