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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

July 17 , 2018 , by Patricia Jenkins

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

We often draw an analogy of different subjects in our lives but very rarely do it in a written form. One might say, the university and college are the only places where you share such opinion on the paper. The compare and contrast essay is the common kind of academic assignments with its unique peculiarities. Even if you are great with the spot comparisons, learn more about essay’s structure and requirements before set to writing.

What is Comparison and Contrast Essay?

Comparison and contrast essay may be an independent task or just a part of more large paper. For example, thesis often includes many paragraphs with such elements. An appropriate definition of this kind of paper:

It is the essay in which the student reveals the similarities and differences between two or more things and reinforces his or her findings by arguments.

Professors frequently ask students to compare both abstract notions (such theories, methods or historical periods) and specific things (book characters, personalities, countries, etc.). There are few guidelines to follow during crafting this type of articles.

1. Develop an Argument for the Paper  

Before you start a writing process, you brainstorm your topic and find some outstanding characteristics of two objects. Those things have to be contrasting enough to be compared. The title of your future essay may sound like “Apple vs. Microsoft” or “Differences and similarities in ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian myth”.

You should explain why it is interesting to reflect on these particular objects and pick strong arguments. In the essay, you may prove why Apple, in your opinion, is better than Microsoft. Or, tell how the contrasts of various ancient myths determined the future of each civilization.  

In practice, do not forget to write down the features you found meaningful on the paper. Every thought can be important, so note everything that comes to mind and move on to the next step.

2. Create the Compare and Contrast Essay Structure

The standard template for all essays is a basic scheme Introduction – Main Body – Conclusion. In the introduction, you form a thesis of your essay and present the subject of a further discussion to your audience. This part must be compelling enough to motivate people to read the main body. Therefore, you need to create a hook at the beginning of your article. This can be:

  • interesting fact,
  • personal experience,
  • joke or anecdote,
  • provoking question,
  • bold claim.

Even though the main body usually consists of 3 paragraphs, in some cases you may write more. Here you provide the arguments chosen before and complete a bulk of comparing job.

Contrast Essay Structure

At the end of the research, you conclude all the arguments and repeat your thesis . One paragraph is enough for this part, it shouldn’t be voluminous.

3. Consider the Essentials of Compare and Contrast Essay Format

Whereas it is everything clear about introduction and conclusion, the main body in those papers may be organized using three methods:

✏ Topic by topic

You start with describing one object and allocate its distinguishing points in the beginning. After that, you turn to the second thing and write down everything you know about it in the last paragraphs. This layout is considered to be smooth and understandable. However, it looks more like a list of points than the comparison. It is the most noticeable shortcoming of this setup.

✏ Point by point

The main purpose of this method is an evaluation criterion. For instance, you can assess Microsoft and Apple by innovations, cost of their software or the popularity of key products. Dwelling upon each point, you are gradually revealing the features of both objects at the same time.

✏ Common and different separately

Here you organize your essay in the format "start with the comparison, end with contrast." The order may be reversed if you want to emphasize the common features instead of differences.

4. Outline the Paper

Outlining is 50% of success. If a student does not find it important and disregards this process, he or she spends much more time on writing. Once you create the outline, the paper will compose itself alone. There are various useful techniques  – family tree, rough draft, schemes, and tables.  Outlines mean planning the structure, sketching the approximate variant of essay and organizing of main points in a particular order – the actions which make writing more simple.

5. Verify the Essay using Samples  

If you are not sure whether your essay complies with general requirements, check the examples on the web or ask your professor to provide you with them. It also depends on the university: rules for articles may vary in each.

Seek for a sample on the reputable website you can trust. A ready essay is also a great option which will explain to you how to write a good paper on practice.

6. Use Graphical Elements

The information is being better absorbed in visual form. Dilute the text with images, graphics, tables, diagrams and other elements. However, it is possible only if you type the assignment on your PC. On the lesson you should present the information in an interesting way without any pictures, so structure, hooks, and indisputable points are your best friends.

10 tips to writting great essay

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Bonus Tips: How to Write Comparison and Contrast Essay Quickly

  • Don’t skip planning. Allocate at least 10 minutes on it.
  • Use brainstorming techniques to come up with decent ideas faster.
  • Always outline.
  • Write the main body first. Students often stumble upon the introduction and don’t know how to start. To avoid such a delay develop the arguments before first and the last parts of the paper.
  • Give the result to your friend for revision. He or she will assess your essay with a fresh pair of eyes and find the mistakes quicker than you.

If you can’t cope with your assignment urgently or don’t have much time on it, ask for assistance in a writing service. Experienced authors will provide you with a sample paper on your topic and may write assignments for you.

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How to Compose Exceptionally Good Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

access_timeMarch 29, 2018

compare and contrast essay outline

Throughout the course of your education and career (if you choose to become a writer), you’ll have the opportunity to work on different writing assignments and, of course, essays are inevitable.

The essay is a piece of writing that methodically analyzes and evaluates a topic or issue. That’s why there are different types of essays, used to discuss, analyze, evaluate, or compare different situations or subjects e.g. argumentative essay , cause and effect essay , and compare and contrast essay.

Your ability to create an excellent paper depends on structuring a perfect outline. Throughout this post, I’m going to show you how to compose an outline for compare and contrast essay to get good grades (or positive feedback from the client) every time.

Compare and contrast essay outline

The easiest definition of compare and contrast essay that explore both the similarities and differences between two subjects by comparing or contrasting them. It’s very easy to mistake this style of essay writing for a simple comparison between some topics or subjects, but that’s not entirely correct. Always bear in mind that your essay has to serve a larger purpose and include the following:

  • Demonstrate that one thing is superior to another
  • Identify and clarify common misunderstandings
  • Provide a new way of doing or understanding something
  • State, elaborate, discuss something unknown
  • Support every claim with facts and accurate, reliable sources

When it comes to structuring the outline for this kind of essay, there are different methods you can follow depending on the organization.

Point-by-point pattern (organization by criteria)

This outline is primarily used to compare items or subjects that are almost similar or when you plan (or have to) evaluate only a few characteristics or criteria when comparing them. Use the diagram below to create the outline for the point-by-point pattern.

compare and contrast essay outline - point-by-point pattern

Block pattern (organization by item)

In instances when you have to compare items, situations, or topics that are entirely different or when there are multiple criteria to involve, the point-by-point pattern doesn’t function quite well. That’s why you should opt for block pattern or organization by item.

Why? The reason is simple; the same criteria don’t apply to different topics, people, objects, events, and so on. When the essay requires a multitude of approaches to explore, it’s important to learn how to organize it properly in a bid to ensure easy reading. Create the outline based on the diagram below.

compare and contrast essay outline - block pattern

Block pattern can be structured in a different manner as well. Instead of the separate paragraph for each point, you compare, you can set out one section to name their similarities and a second paragraph to analyze dissimilarities point by point.

Now that you know how to create a functional outline, you’re ready to move on to the essay writing process.


The intro for this kind of essay doesn’t differ much from other types. It’s the part where you introduce the overall subject of the piece and specific items, situations, or events you have to compare and/or contrast. As seen in diagrams, the introduction should feature :

  • The mentioning of the main topic – begin with a hook sentence and detail specific to the topic itself. Your hook can be a quote, question, anecdote, anything you see fit for the particular subject you have to write about
  • Specific subjects to compare and contrast – of course, you can’t start writing about similarities and differences between two items out of the blue. That’s why you should set out a sentence or two to mention specific topics you’ll compare under the central theme
  • Thesis statement – it marks the tone of the essay and catches reader’s attention. Last sentence (or two) of your paper should account for a specific and concise thesis. There’s no need for wordiness in this part because thesis, as the entire introduction, shouldn’t be too long.

Once you’re done with the intro, you’re ready to move on to the body paragraphs.

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Body paragraphs

A total number of paragraphs in the body section depends on a number of aspects or criteria you have to discuss. For example, if you have to make a comparison between two different events through two aspects, you’ll need two paragraphs. Three criteria require three paragraphs, and so on. Sometimes, you’ll get the amount of aspects to use for comparison/contrast from your professor or a client, while in other instances, you’ll just have to determine the number yourself during the research process.

When you get the title and aspects to compare but without a certain number of criteria to cover similarities and differences, you have to brainstorm. Take a blank piece of paper and write the first item in the left corner, the second item in the right corner. Make a Venn diagram and start analyzing.

compare and contrast essay outline - body paragraphs

REMEMBER: Typically, you don’t need more than three aspects to cover, unless otherwise noted.

When you start brainstorming and researching the topic, the chances are high you’ll find a wide array of differences and similarities. However, your essay has to be well-crafted, and you can’t include absolutely everything you find (that way you’d write forever). To determine what to compare or differentiate answer these questions:

  • Is this relevant for my course?
  • What matters to the argument I’m going to take (or I’m given)?
  • What’s informative and interesting?
  • What’s relevant to my assignment?

Each paragraph in the body should start with a topic sentence (point 1, criterion 1/item A, B) focused on the aspect you’re about to compare/contrast. Then, you proceed with details you find when conducting research. Remember, just like in other types of essays, thorough research is highly relevant here, too.

It’s not just about mentioning differences and similarities one by one and stating your opinion or argument about them. Every detail you find should be supported by substantial evidence, statistics, studies, official data, and so on.

To show comparisons and emphasize the overall effect, don’t forget to use some connectors such as:

  • At the same time, as well as
  • Both
  • Compared to
  • Correspondingly
  • In addition
  • In the same way
  • Just as
  • Likewise
  • Same as
  • Similarly

Of course, you can include connectors to express or heighten the contrasting effect. For example:

  • Conversely
  • Even though, although
  • However
  • In contrast
  • Meanwhile
  • Nevertheless
  • On the contrary
  • On the other hand
  • Unlike

For the best possible result and successful completion of the essay, the body paragraphs should be analyzed from the perspective of an independent analytic. Ideally, your paper shouldn’t be biased. You don’t want the reader of your paper to assume what item you prefer or despise automatically.


At this point, you have the introduction and body paragraphs, which indicates you’re ready to conclude the essay. Generally, this is the easiest part, but you should ensure it’s properly structured as well. Here’s what your conclusion should contain :

  • Summary of main points – at the very beginning of this part, you should summarize the main points you’ve made throughout the essay. It’s important to synthesize your thesis with info in body paragraphs
  • Evaluation – provide a short analysis of what you discussed in the paper or mention possible solutions. The approach depends on the nature of your subject
  • Significance – not only do you have to clarify the importance of the main topic, but also mention the significance of comparisons or contrasts. How to do this? It’s not that difficult; answer the What was my goal in showing similarities/differences between these items? Your response indicates their significance.

Post-writing stage

You finished writing the paper, but your work isn’t over just yet. Before sending or submitting the essay, it’s necessary to proofread and edit the paper to eliminate all mistakes and unwanted parts.

Proofreading isn’t only necessary for correcting typos or grammar, these seemingly unimportant errors that “everyone makes” break the reader from the flow of the paper and undermine its power of persuasion. When you finish the essay, read your work from top to bottom without doing anything. You’ll probably spot some mistakes, but don’t rush correcting them immediately. Then, start reading again and correct typos, grammar errors, and sentence constructions. Don’t resist the urge to rewrite some sentences for better effect.

Nowadays, in the era of technology, you might feel tempted to download software (or find grammar/spelling checker online) and let it do the work for you. First of all, they aren’t always correct, and secondly, your critical thinking skills will improve only when you do it yourself. The software can be used as additional essay help . Another useful idea is to ask a family member or a friend to read the essay and see if they can spot some mistakes.

You’re almost ready to submit your essay, check whether you included references (if not, do so) and you’re done.

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Bottom line

Compare, and contrast essay is concerned with evaluating differences and similarities between given items or topics. It’s not just a mere comparison; the essay requires thorough evaluation and analysis supported by reliable data. This post explained how to create the outline properly, and all you have to do is to write according to the structure provided. Remember, once you create the structure and choose the adequate pattern (point-by-point or block), you just have to fill in the missing detail with results of your search.

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Comparison contrast essay

Comparison contrast essay

conclusion for a compare and contrast essay

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