How To Write A Compare And Contrast Essay

8 Steps on How To Write A Compare And Contrast Essay

What is a compare and contrast essay?

In the course of achieving your academic goals, at some point you will ask yourself “how should I write a compare and contrast essay?” It is worth analyzing what a compare and contrast essay entails, and how to write an impeccable paper. A compare and contrast paper conducts an analysis of two subjects by either contrasting them, comparing them, or both. As opposed to stating the obvious, the aim of this type of an essay is to analyze the similarities or differences between the subjects. Below is a step by step process of writing an impeccable compare and contrast essay.

If your focus is on comparison, you should select two subjects that may seem to lack any relation. For a comparison essay, one may not select 2 oranges or 2 apples since they have numerous similarities already. Instead, one should attempt to conduct a comparison of the similar aspects between both oranges and apples.

Similarly, if you choose to contrast two subjects, it would not be sensible to pick oranges and apples; rather, you may choose to compare and contrast two types of apples or two types of oranges to illuminate the indefinite differences. For instance, Granny Smiths are acidic and tart, whereas red delicious apples are sweet. Getting differences between subjects in a similar category will enhance the understanding of the audience as regards that category. Fortunately, this is the reason behind writing a compare and contrast essay.

The steps below will guide you on how to write a compare and contrast essay;

Step 1: Choosing the Subject

The two chosen subjects should have differences, but have some similarities as well, to create a compare and contrast essay which is impeccable. For instance, if your choice of topic is to write about two different historical figures, it would be sensible to choose 2 great artists, as opposed to a politician and an artist. Some topic examples include;

  • Totalities and Democracy
  • Voluntarism and Fatalist
  • Catholicism and Orthodox
  • Salieri and Mozart
  • Real Classrooms and Virtual Classrooms
  • Private and Public College
  • John Locke and Descartes

Step 2: Analyzing the Differences and Similarities

Make one list for differences, and the other for similarities. The success of this technique can be facilitated by a Venn diagram. Below is an example of a Venn diagram;

It is quite simple; have two circles which overlap. Each of them represent each of the topics that are under comparison. The different aspects are separately noted, whereby the shared traits are placed in the overlapping space (shared space). The visual aid is very helpful, since it clearly organizes differences and similarities. To write the essay and decide what aspects you should focus on, you should simply check the diagram.

Step 3: Formulate the Main Argument

After analyzing the list made above, choose the most significant aspects to lay your focus on. What is the contribution of the differences and similarities to the topic? The answer for this should be the paper’s main argument.

Step 4: Organizational Structure

As the last sentence of a well written introduction, a compare and contrast essay should have a thesis which explicitly states the two subjects being contrasted, compared, or both, and the reason for that. The thesis could focus on contrasting, comparing, or both. Below is an example of a thesis which focuses on contrasting:

Thesis Statement: private universities may be more expensive than the public ones, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Here, it is quite evident that the thesis sets us two subjects to be compared and contrasted (private versus public universities), and a claim is made concerning the findings that may be useful to the intended audience.

There exist two main techniques of structuring a compare and contrast essay; using a point-by-point structure, or a block structure. For the former, each difference or similarity for one object is followed by the other object’s similarity/difference. For the block structure, all the information pertaining to one of the objects being contrasted/compared if first provided, then information about the other object of comparison/contrast is given afterwards. This kind of structure is likened to the one used in problem-solution and cause and effect essays.

The two aforementioned structures have their disadvantages and advantages. The point-by-point structure is clearer because it provides an explicit view of the similarities and differences. The block style is easier to write.

Step 5: Structure an Outline

Structure the most suitable outline for the organizational structure you chose above in the step above. Ideally, the essay should have an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. However, this is not limited as one can have more body paragraphs, in consideration of the required number of pages/words for the compare and contrast paper. More body paragraphs may give a great balance to the two subjects being compared/contrasted.

Step 6: Find and Synthesize Evidence

Online resources, physical books from libraries, and journal articles to find evidence. Synthesize the evidence to facilitate a good flow. For instance, if you are writing a compare and contrast essay about Kant and Marx, it would be a great idea to use numerous sources that explain their theories. If comparing and contrasting different poets such as Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, you should incorporate quotes from their poems and work of arts, to support your assertions.

Step 7: Transition Signals and Structure Words

In compare and contrast papers, you should use compare and contrast structure words which are also referred to as transition signals. Such words show the differences and similarities.

  1. Compare
  • To compare (with/to)
  • Similar to
  • Just like
  • Neither….nor
  • Both….and….
  • Also
  • Likewise
  • Similarly
  1. Contrast
  • Different from…
  • But
  • Whereas
  • On the other hand
  • While
  • By comparison
  • In comparison
  • In contrast
  • However
  • In contrast
  • Nonetheless

Step 8: Fully Proofread

This is the last step of the writing process. You should extensively check for errors in your essay before your turn it in. fix the punctuation or spelling mistakes, including and formatting issues, typos, and other inconsistencies. There are numerous grammar check and spell check tools/software, so make use of those.

Your reading audience will most definitely be impressed if the above steps of writing an impeccable compare and contrast essay are followed. For an essay that follows all the above guidelines, order here today!

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