Writing a compare and contrast essay can be an enjoyable task. In most cases, you will compare and contrast two people, two things, two phenomena, two events, etc. For example, if you want to talk about politics, you can compare and contrast two different presidents or prime ministers. If you want to speak about animals, you can compare and contrast two different breeds of dogs, cats, and so on.
In fact, it can present you with an opportunity to unleash some creativity as you express your thoughts on opposing issues. Drawing parallels between two people or objects beats the monotony of devoting a paper to one issue. Of course, this does not mean that writing a compare and contrast essay is a breeze. It often requires you to think outside the box since the purpose of this type of paper is not to point out the obvious, but rather to engage the reader in ways they had never really considered.
Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay: Before You Start
Before you sit down at your computer and begin writing, the first step is to select topic for your compare and contrast essay. Quite often, students experience difficulties trying to choose the most interesting topic for their compare and contrast papers. The best thing you can do is selecting a topic that is interesting to you. You can choose a topic you feel personal about. At the same time, it is always good to write about something that was forgotten, omitted or misunderstood by other writers.
It is best to choose two things that share certain features while also having characteristics that set them apart. For example, comparing cats and dogs is pretty logical whereas comparing porcupines with leather boots is probably not going to get you very far.
Of course, it is not to say that pondering unconventional parallelism is outside the realm of possibility, especially if you know that your instructor would appreciate it. For instance, you could compare the day-to-day life of an eagle with that of an octopus. If you are permitted to use some poetic license, you could even compare the problems that vampires face versus that which werewolves encounter. Examining original and unexpected topics can increase the odds of you getting a good grade. Even before getting accepted into college, a lot of admissions committees require a compare and contrast essay as part of the application process. Success in this can help you get into the school of your dreams.
Remember to Use Sources
Writing a compare and contrast essay requires a great deal of creativity, but you will also need to find appropriate and credible resources. Much like an argumentative essay, the information you present in your essay should be grounded in facts. If it is scientifically based, you should consult journals, reputable newspaper articles, and books on the topic. If you are writing about works of fiction - such as mythical monsters - utilize direct quotes and paraphrase passages from novels to support your claims. Regardless of the topics, consider using sources from the following mediums:
- Movies and Documentaries
- Academic textbooks
- Scholarly journals
- Scientific publications
- Official reports
How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
A compare and contrast paper shares certain characteristics with other types of essays, but there several additional features that you should be aware of. The following suggestions will put you on the right path.
First, pick the topics that you wish to compare and contrast. There are four main directions that this can take:
- Events (compare and contrast two events from history or even a pair of fictional situations from a novel or short story)
- Personal Situations (think of two defining moments from your life, such as problems that you have had to overcome or even thrilling adventures that you've experienced)
- Famous figures or fiction characters
- Places (compare and contrast different countries, cities, parks, or even colleges)
No matter what comparison and contrast topics you settle on, it needs to adhere to the conventional structure found in almost all types of academic papers. You can find some useful tips about creating compare and contrast essay structure due to all academic standards in this video.
Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Process
The compare and contrast essay follows a fairly straightforward format. The main ideas lie right on the surface and the topics speak for themselves. Choose two compelling subjects that manage to share certain characteristics while also greatly diverging. Analyze both of the subjects and reach some sort of conclusion. Your conclusions can even provide recommendations to solve a broader issue. The process of writing a compare and contrast essay can be broken into seven major steps:
- Decide upon the two topics to compare/contrast
- Develop an outline
- Introduce the topic
- Write out three body paragraphs
- Identify the main differences between the topics
- Write out the conclusion
- Proofread, edit, and revise
For obvious reasons, the introduction is the most crucial part of your paper. It sets the tone, hooks the reader, and the thesis statement contained within serves as the basis for the rest of the paper. Ponder a few thesis ideas and settle on the one that you can best support. Once you have selected the thesis statement, you are ready to proceed with the meat of the paper.
If you ask a seasoned writer about the keys to writing a successful paper, he/she will tell you that it all comes down to experience and knowledge. Acquiring these skills takes time, so do not feel discouraged or lose patience. After doing some research and writing a few essays, it will seem like second nature.
How to Write Compare and Contrast Essay Outline
Every great paper begins with an outline. While it is tempting to bypass this and go straight to writing the paper, you would really be best served by creating the outline. It will make the writing process easier and will ultimately lead to a more organized, coherent paper. Writing an outline for a compare and contrast essay is the same as with any other type of paper assignment.
If you choose topics that you find interesting and know something about, it will make the process a million times easier versus picking something that is unfamiliar to you. If you choose subjects of which you know little about, it increases the odds that your paper will be weak and lack developed, coherent ideas.
Here is how your paper outline should look for the subject by subject comparison:
- I. Introduction
- A. Hook
- B. General discussion of the topics
- C. Thesis Statement
- II. First Topic
- A. Sentence related to the topic
- B. Supporting details
- C. Conclusion
- III. Second Topic
- A. Sentence related to the topic
- B. Supporting details
- C. Conclusion
- IV. Concluding Paragraph
- A. Restate thesis statement
- B. Summarize the main points of the paper
- C. Finish with the powerful concluding sentence
Regarding the outline, taking a brainstorming approach would not be a bad idea. You should feel free to list as many possible ideas as you can before eliminating the weaker ones in favor of the points that provide you with the best evidence. Ultimately, if you want to succeed with the compare and contrast paper - and indeed with any writing assignment - the good organization is essential.
Compare and Contrast Essay Samples
Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction Tips
The introduction paragraph to a compare and contrast essay is consistent with virtually all academic essays whether it is a definition essay, argumentative, or research assignment. The length of the introduction depends on the length of the entire paper, but as a rule, the introduction paragraph in a 5-page paper should be around 150 words.
- Keep it brief and compelling
- Identify the main ideas behind your topics.
- Make sure it corresponds with your outline
- For best results, you can hold off on writing the introduction to the very end so that it compliments the conclusion paragraph.
A great paper starts with an effective introduction. Your goal is to keep the reader hooked. Use emotional and convincing language. You will also want to keep it clear and coherent, especially for readers who might not be familiar with the topics. One method that is popularly utilized is to ask questions so that the reader feels like they are a participant. Of course, if you do choose to ask a question, remember to hint at the answer in the body of your paper.
Compare and Contrast Body Paragraphs Tips
The body of the paper (usually consisting of three paragraphs) is the next portion of the paper. This is where you will actually compare and contrast the subjects. List as many ideas as possible and then eventually narrow it down to the three that you can best discuss in detail.
Each paragraph of the body begins by providing the reader with clear descriptions and analysis of the topics. It then proceeds to compare these two subjects based on the aforementioned descriptions. If your paper employs the conventional three paragraphs in the body section, it should appear like this:
Similar Features vs. Differences
- 1st paragraph in the body section should discuss all of the similar characteristics of both topics under examination.
- 2nd paragraph of the body section should discuss how these two topics differ.
- 3rd paragraph discusses the place both topics under examination get in the field covered by the topics.
Topic A vs. Topic B
- 1st paragraph discusses Topic A and describes its characteristics
- 2nd paragraph discusses Topic B subject of your paper and offers the thorough analysis of its characteristics.
- 3rd paragraph compares and analyzes both topics.
Each of the three paragraphs in the body should be researched separately and with great attention to detail. Don't focus on the differences between the facts, but instead on the topics you are discussing. For the best results (and the highest grade) dig deeper into the topics. In particular, try to discover and write about characteristics that might come as a surprise to the reader. It should be informative and the reader should feel as though they had learned something new about the topics.
Compare and Contrast Conclusion Tips
A lot of students find themselves making common mistakes at the end of the paper. Given the importance of the conclusion - this is where you make your lasting impression, after all - you will definitely want to make sure you are following all of the proper conventions as you finish your work.
In particular, you want the reader to be convinced of your arguments. These final words will make or break your paper. Keep in mind that the conclusion does not merely rehash the paper word for word. You want them to understand the broader implications of the paper. While you obviously will want to restate your thesis and make references to the body paragraphs, you should also include the following in the conclusion:
- Answer the question "So What?"
- Synthesis of the paper, not a mere summary
- Redirect your readers
- Create a new meaning
The Final Steps
Although the paper has finally been written, there are a few final steps that you should take before you submit your work to your professor.
You might have written a fine paper, but if you fail to catch common and preventable mistakes, it will have negative consequences on your paper's grade. Here are some mop-up duty tips before you turn it in:
- Proofread for grammar mistakes, typos, and misspellings.
- Double check that your essay conforms to the assigned formatting style (i.e., APA, MLA, Chicago)
- Make sure you have properly attributed all of your work using citations and have included the References / Works Cited page
- Make sure the title page adheres to the formatting requirements
- Read your paper one last time before you submit it.
Here are some final, miscellaneous tips to maximize your results
- Do not underestimate the importance of the title. A great paper starts with an effective title. It should be clever, concise, and unambiguous. It can be a question or complex type of sentence, but either way, it should clearly inform the reader about what you're going to present.
- Take breaks. While you might feel like plowing through the paper in one sitting, it is important to give your mind some rest. This could even entail going for a little walk and collecting your thoughts. Once you return, you will feel refreshed and even inspired.
- Review and edit. After spending hours finishing your paper, you will probably feel the urge to turn it in and be done with it. But all of that hard work will have gone to waste if you submit a sloppy, unpolished paper. Take the time to proofread and edit. Make sure the paper flows well. Check to see if you made appropriate word choices and a wide range of transitional statements.
Need Some Extra Writing Help?
While we hope our advice will get you started on the right foot, we understand that writing a compare and contrast essay is not simple. There are challenges in trying to compare two seemingly unrelated topics or examining the works of different authors. You might also carry a full load of classes and hold a job. If you want to turn in a superb compare and contrast essay that meets all of your professor's requirements but do not have the time or energy, we can help. The academic writing services of 300Writers.com have a team of expert essay writers who would be happy to assist. Questions about the ordering process? Our friendly customer support team is ready to assist today!