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Compare and Contrast essay writing tips and guides

Have you been asked to write a compare and contrast essay? As a student, a compare and contrast essay is one of the many writings you will do in college.


A compare and contrast essay is meant to focus on two or more topics, examining these topics and pointing out the similarities and differences. The topics in comparison can be closely related like comparing a zebra and a horse, or they can completely different like comparing pizza and salad. The focus of a compare and contrast is to shed light on a less known attribute that connects the objects in comparison.


Good topic examples of compare and comparison essays include WWI and WWII, London and Paris or even “Gone with the Wind” and “The Thorn Birds.” With such topics, you would need to find what the subjects have in common and what sets them apart.


How to write a compare and contrast essay


As mentioned above, a compare and contrast essay is meant to analyze similarities and differences of two or more subjects. A well-written essay will show how the subjects are similar and show how different they are.


Writing a compare and contrast essay can be intimidating when doing it for the first time. The best way to ensure you get it right the first time is following preset writing guidelines. In this article, you will find a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to write the best compare and contrast essays.


Formulating your argument


The first part of writing the best compare and contrast essay is to formulate an argument.


Select your topics to compare and contrast


This is the first step to writing compare and contrast essays. You need to choose two subjects that are related enough to avail the data you need to compare and contrast. When choosing your subjects, you need to consider a few factors:



  • You can choose subjects in the same category but share some significant differences. A good example of a topic would be ‘homemade pizza vs. frozen grocery store pizza.’

  • You can also pick two topics that share less k own similarities. For instance, comparing and contrasting bats and whales would bring out the size difference, but they also share a similarity of using sonar for hunting.  

  • You can compare and contrast two subjects that are assumed similar but share major differences. For instance, you can compare and contrast a topic like ‘hunger games movie with the book.’


Ensure the subjects have the potential of developing a meaningful discussion


A meaningful compare and contrast topic should offer more than just information on the similarities and difference of the subjects. The best subjects make it possible for your readers to understand why the comparison is useful and interesting.


When working on your subjects, you need to assess what the subjects can teach your readers. It needs to be something that would miss if they looked at the subjects separately. It is also helpful to consider why the subjects are meaningful enough to warrant a compare and contrast essay. When you say that the Hunger Games and Battle Royale are similar and different, you also need to answer the ‘so what’ factor likely to be asked by your readers.


Brainstorm your topics


Before jumping to thesis writing, you need to spend a bit more time brainstorming your topic and subjects. This will help you clearly come up with the major points you want to focus on when comparing and contrasting your subjects, which is helpful when formulating your thesis.


When brainstorming, you can use the Venn diagram formula. These overlapping circles make it easier for your brain to visualize the similarities and differences of your subjects. On the outer edges of your circles, you can include the differences while the overlapping circles can highlight tie similarities.


If you prefer another method, you can also write down the characteristics and features of each subject. With this list, look at the similarities and differences in the subjects, which helps you formulate your plan. Ensure you take note of major points of difference.


Consider the main points


Sometimes, it is not possible to highlight all differences and similarities of your subjects. For this reason, you need to choose a few points that you consider are the most important. For instance, when comparing and contrasting cats and dogs, some of the similarities include that they are both household pets, and they do not have special care needs. These act at points of comparison.


On the other hand, cats are more independent than dogs. In addition, dogs do not provoke allergies as much as cats can and dogs grow bigger than cats. All these can be used as points of contrast to your essay. These points of contrast offer a good place to start when thinking about your thesis. Do these differenced make one animal more superior than the other? Does it make it a better pet foe certain living situations? These are some of the questions the thesis can be centered on.


Developing a thesis


While a compare and contrast essay thesis can take many different directions, the best one should include an argument that highlights the importance of comparing the two subjects. The thesis should show your readers why one subject is more favourable. For instance, it can seek to show why cats are better pets than dogs in terms of maintenance, adaptability and independence.


Your thesis should make it possible for your readers to compare between two subjects meaningfully. For instance, if you choose to compare and contrast ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ and ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, you can show the reader the similarities between the two since they address the loss of innocence and deep bond between siblings. However, they are different in that the latter focuses on the prejudice of class, while the former addresses racism.


Organizing a compare and contrast essay


Deciding on the structure


You can organize a compare and contrast essay in several ways. The method you chose is dependent on your ideas and what would work best. It is possible to change the organization later if it fails to work.


Organizing subject by subject

This organization method deals with the topics and highlights on one topic before organizing the topics and highlights of the second subject. When comparing frozen pizza to homemade pizza, you can start with discussing all your points on frozen pizza before addressing homemade pizza.


This organization method ensures you do not jump back and forth between the subjects, which helps the essay to flow more smoothly. This method is also ideal if you are using one of the subjects as the base of your comparison.


The major disadvantage of this method is that the subject comparison and contrast is not visible until further into the essay. If not done right, it can end up looking like a list of points as opposed to a cohesive essay.


Organizing point by point

In this type of compare and contrast essay organization, the writer switches back and forth between points addressing both subjects for each point. You can compare on different points like the price of frozen pizza vs. homemade pizza, the quality of ingredients on the subjects and even convenience.


The disadvantage of this method is that the writer will need to keep switching back and forth between topics. For it to be properly used, you must use signposts and transitions to help your reader read the argument.


Compare then contrast organization

In this method, the writer presents all the similarities between the subjects followed by the contrasts. This is the most common method for organizing compare and contrast essays. This is a helpful method when the writer wants to emphasize the differences in the subjects. By placing the differences last, the writer emphasizes them. While it is the most efficient organization method, it can be hard for the reader to understand the need for the differences when the similarities are covers first.  


Outlining the essay


Outlining the essays makes it possible for the writer to utilize an organization structure properly. It also gives you a template you can follow when developing your ideas. Regardless of the organization method you choose, you will need the same paragraphs. These include:


The introduction – this is the first part of the essay. It presents the basis of the subjects in your essay. It should clearly highlight your thesis and the direction you wish your essay to take.


The body – this can comprise of as many paragraphs as you need to compare and contrast your subjects. As the main part of the essay, the body presents the details to support your claims. It should provide the reader with analyzed evidence that will help them to make a connection to the thesis by supporting the thesis.


Acknowledgement of competitive concession/arguments - in this paragraph, the writer needs to acknowledge that there exist other counter-arguments on the subjects. However, it should expose the flaws of these arguments and why they cannot apply.  


Conclusion – This is the last paragraph of a compare and contrast essay. It summarizes the evidence in the body and restates the thesis by offering more information than what was availed in the introduction.


Putting it all together


With an outline of your essay, it becomes easy to find supporting evidence for your arguments. Go back to the compare and contrast list you formulated when starting to find the evidence you need. From this information, you can easily write a compelling compare and contrast essay on the subjects.


Remember to explain the ‘why?’


One of the most common mistakes made when writing compare and contrast essays is the failure to explain why the subjects needed to be brought together. A writer needs to remind the reader in the introduction, body and conclusion of the significance of the evidence and argument provided.


When comparing frozen and homemade pizza, you can include an assertion that reminds the reader why the ability to choose ingredients for homemade pizza is better than relying on what comes with frozen pizza.


Creating a title


Unlike most essays, it is best to title a compare and contrast essay after it is written. Once the essay is complete, you can come up with a title that sums up what the essay is about.


Edit your essay


Once you complete writing your essay, it is always advisable to take a break before editing it. This allows you to come back to the essay with a fresh set of eyes. This makes it easier for you to notice errors, plot holes and grammar issues. Ensure you use a reliable grammar and plagiarism checker to ensure your essay is in the best shape before submission. Its also advisable to help from a reliable paper writing service such as Customwritershub.com. You can hire a cheap essay writer from such sercise providers for the purposes of editing and proofreading the essay.


When reviewing your essay:



  • Ensure you have not used defamatory or negative language when showing why one subject is unfavorable. You should always use solid evidence to support your claims.

  • Check that you have not used the first-person pronouns unless you have permission to do so. When not allowed, always write a compare and contrast essay in the third person.


With these steps, you will be better prepared to write an in-depth compare and contrast essay. The best-written paper should show high-level analytical skills. It should demonstrate critical thinking if you want your essay to stand out.

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Published on: 22, Sep 2020
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