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The Ultimate Guide to Compare and Contrast Writing

Why compare and contrast in writing?

Two reasons:

  1. To make your work sound more argumentative.
  2. To help readers understand the topic of your work better: The compare and contrast tactic allows you to “visually” represent concepts in the audience’s minds. It’s easier to imagine and understand something when “seeing” it next to another related subject.

In this blog post, we’ll reveal the nature and purpose of compare and contrast writing and tell you how to structure such assets step by step. Given that a compare and contrast essay is also a standard assignment all students get in college, this guide will assist them, too.

Ready? Take a cup of your favorite drink, and let’s go!

What Does Compare and Contrast Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary nailed it:

Compare and contrast: to note what is similar and different about (two or more things).

When comparing, you identify and show the similarities between two subjects, concepts, or ideas. When contrasting, you showcase the differences between them.

Say you compare and contrast apples and oranges. When comparing, you write they both are round fruit; when contrasting, you write an apple’s thin skin is okay to eat, while an orange’s thick skin isn’t.

The above example is simple, but it stands to reason that compare and contrast writing can go far beyond such evident categories.

The purpose is not to describe the obvious but to focus on unexpected similarities or subtle differences between several elements of the same category. You compare and contrast them to demonstrate your thesis to the audience and help them understand your point better:

When speaking of one subject, you use another one of the same category as a frame of reference.

Sounds confusing? It’s not so! Compare and contrast essays help you:

  • Explain complex concepts by comparing them to something readers know better.
  • Build arguments with illustrative examples.
  • Prove your thesis using a framework the human brain understands best: a demonstration of two subjects next to each other. People “see” a concept better with another one nearby. 

As the saying goes,

It is only when we compare things, people, situations, or feelings that we can explore and appraise them.

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Research similarities and differences
  3. State a thesis
  4. Think about how to compare and contrast
  5. Outline your content asset
  6. Write
  7. Proofread and edit

And now, to practice:

Below is your step-by-step guide to compare and contrast writing. No time to read? EasyEssay professional authors are ready to assist you:

1. Choose a Topic

If you’re a blogger, creative writer, or freelance author, follow your content plan or clients’ requirements. Big chances are they won’t ask you to compare and contrast anything directly, but you can take an assigned topic and structure your text accordingly.

The only rule here:

When choosing subjects for your compare and contrast writing, consider those related and share a strong connection. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to find points to compare, and the reader won’t understand the idea behind such a comparison.

In plain English, it’s logical to compare two poets, for example; but what’s the point of doing that with a poet and an engineer?

If you’re a student, big chances are that you’ll get an essay title from your teacher. With no particular topic assigned, you are welcome to choose yours related to the discipline: sociology, literature, history, psychology — compare and contrast works for everything.

But, as said, ensure the subjects you choose to cover in your essays are of the same category. Focus on their non-obvious similarities and unforeseen differences to engage the audience and better represent your thesis.

2. Research Similarities and Differences

Now that you have a topic and decided on the subjects to compare, it’s time to research and find references you’ll use in writing. What points will you compare, and which ones will you contrast?

It’s critical not to miss anything.

When researching, create a table: Specify the categories you’ll compare about both subjects and write down related characteristics to see the similarities and differences. This tactic works best when you write an essay or a marketing text comparing two products.

Another tactic to try is drawing a Venn diagram. Write down the differences for each subject along the diagram’s sides, and specify similarities in the center. It will help you see all the characteristics and understand how to structure your essay to represent all of them.

3. State a Thesis

When you have a topic, subjects to describe, and a list of their similarities and differences at hand, you can see all the connections between them and start formulating your thesis.

In academic writing, a thesis is a must in your paper. Remember that your compare and contrast essay is NOT about merely enumerating two subjects’ similarities and differences:

You use the compare and contrast approach to describe and prove your thesis for readers to better understand the point you’re trying to drive home.

Answer the questions:

  • What’s the ground for the comparison you’ll use in the essay? What do you want to say by it?
  • Why do you choose these particular subjects to compare and contrast?
  • What point do you want to make?

Combine the answers in one sentence specifying the relationship between the subjects as a representation of your main argument. This sentence will become your thesis statement to mention in an essay introduction.

Below are a few compare and contrast essay thesis examples for you to get the idea:

The same tips work for writing a thesis in other content types, including blog posts, educational guides, sales messages, creative writing copies, etc.

4. Think About How to Compare and Contrast

Before you start writing, it would help to decide how you’ll structure your paper. We are talking about the structure of representing your compare-contrast paragraphs here:

It stands to reason that you’ll write an introduction, a paper body, and a conclusion. But in compare-and-contrast writing, two ways of comparison exist: block and point-by-point.

  1. A block structure, aka subject-by-subject, is when you first discuss everything about one subject and then move to discuss the same points about the second subject. Like this:
  1. A point-by-point structure is when you discuss the criteria of both subjects simultaneously, one by one. Like this:

While the block structure is easier to write, the point-by-point is more engaging and easier to understand for readers.

5. Outline Your Content Asset

Now it’s time to write an outline for your compare and contrast essay. Think of it as a skeleton, or a plan, of your future content asset: It will ease the writing process and help you complete the draft faster.

Outlines serve to organize all the points, see if they look argumentative and logical, and not miss anything while writing.

As well as most other informative or educational content types, compare and contrast essays have a standard structure to outline:

  • Introduction (1-2 paragraphs; remember to mention a writing hook and a thesis here)
  • Body (3-4 paragraphs, depending on how many subjects and points you compare)
  • Conclusion (1 paragraph)

What to mention there? Consider this outline template, and feel free to adjust it to your topic and the guidelines you have from a client or a college professor:

6. Write

Finally, it’s time to write a draft! Follow the outline and craft your compare and contrast essay step by step:

Start with the introductory paragraph. Grab a reader’s attention with a hook (use a question, a statement, or a rare fact), introduce your topic and the subjects you will discuss, and don’t forget to state a thesis.

Then, paragraph by paragraph, use gathered similarities and differences to explain your thesis and help readers understand your topic better. Back up all the points with evidence: Use references like statistics, facts, research, books or scientific journals, etc.

Please use straightforward language, structure your arguments logically, and use linking phrases to show the relationship between your points. It will improve the readability, and it will help the audience to understand the topic.

The examples of linking phrases for compare and contrast writing: similarly, both… and.., likewise, also, in the same way, moreover; however, rather, unlike, on the contrary, while, by comparison, etc.

Complete your draft with a final paragraph where you’ll restate the thesis about the similarities and differences of the subjects you discussed. Be persuasive, and finish the essay with the results of your comparison.

7. Proofread and Edit

Once your draft is ready, don’t hurry to publish it, send it to editors, or submit it to your college professor! Take your time and pay precise attention to the last stage of compare and contrast essay writing:

Now you need to edit and proofread the draft.

Self-editing can be tricky, but it’s not that challenging to do. You’ll read the draft several times to ensure it’s free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes; you’ll check its readability, logical presentation of the material, word choice, and stylistic devices; you’ll ensure you haven’t missed anything and disclosed all planned points and arguments.

Over to You

So, here it goes, your ultimate guide on compare and contrast writing. Whether you write a college essay or a web text, this approach to writing is efficient: By comparing similarities and differences of a few subjects within the same category, you help the reader understand your topic and thesis.

Follow the steps and writing tips from this article — and you’ll craft an informative and engaging paper worth high grades and positive comments from the audience.

Still in doubt? Remember that our writers are here 24/7 to help you!

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Compare and Contrast Writing”

  1. Hello guys! Thanks for such an amazing and great written article! All vital info is here. I’m waiting for more posts like this. Cheers!

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