College Essays include a complete sequence of activities and exercises that will guide and help students, step by step, in the process of comparing and contrasting two subjects in a standard essay format. It is highly suggested for the students to have at least basic knowledge of essay structure and constituents before working on the essay in order to understand the concepts better.
A comparison displays how two topics are alike or similar; a contrast displays how two topics are dissimilar or different. Students must identify adequate statements for contrast essay and write appropriate thesis statements and concluding statements to end the comparison and contrast essay. Essay writing in short will give students practice in clear and logical reasoning.
What are Contrast Essays?Back to Top
An essay academic essay consists of an introductory paragraph or the introduction, three supporting paragraphs called the body, and a concluding paragraph or conclusion. All five paragraphs must be associated to discuss one single topic. Writing an essay helps students to sort out and consolidate ideas, and think them through clearly. A comparison and contrast essay observes the similarities or one can call it “compares” and/or “contrasts” differences between two items in order to make a point. Below are few examples of comparison and contrast ideas:
- Compare / contrast two professions
- Compare / contrast two colleges
- Compare / contrast two bikes
In all the cases the similarities and differences lead to a convincing definite conclusion which is an important feature of the comparison and contrast essay. This essay focuses on a common thought process, as we tend to use it in our day to day lives whenever we make decisions.
The comparison or contrast essays should make a point or serve a purpose. Often such essays do one of the following: ƒ
- Clarify something indefinite or not well understood. ƒ
- Lead to a fresh understanding or new way of observing something. ƒ
- Bring one or both of the subjects into shriller focus. ƒ
- Show that one subject is better than the other.
Comparison/ Contrast Essay OutlineBack to Top
In a Comparison or contrasted essay select objects that are related in some way, so they can be compared or contrasted. Choose a process of progress that works well with organizing idea. Use precise and relevant examples for support. Give equal conduct to both components that you is being discussed. Compare according to a single planned idea. Use transitional words or phrases to help readers understand the similarities and differences in the subject. Conclude the paper by restating or paraphrasing the thesis, summarizing the main points, and give the reader the final ‘so what’ - of the major similarities and/or differences discussed.
- The two subjects must make sense to compare or contrast. For instance you can compare two soccer teams , but not a cricket team and soccer team. By way of selecting a topic, remember that a student is not supposed to be describing the two things they’re writing about.
- The introduction should state the reason for comparison or contrast for instance which is the most desirable or lesser desirable of the two.
- The thesis statement should clearly represent the two things to be compared or contrasted such as the subject and the main points or criteria for the comparison or contrast.
- The main points must be grammatically parallel.
- The main points or criteria must apply to both items.
The Purpose of a Compare and Contrast EssayBack to Top
The thesis statement is, the controlling idea of the entire essay. It also acts as the main idea of a compare and contrast essay. It is the sentence that controls and summarizes the direction and the content of the essay. At the same time, the thesis sentence associates the introduction paragraph with the body of the essay. In the comparison and contrast essay, the student must give their OPINION in the thesis statement.
- The student is required to take a stand and tolerate it through the essay.
- The thesis statement provides control, strength, and direction to the body of the essay.
- The direction and control is achieved by Parallel Structures.
- The thesis statement is not the heading or the title of the essay.
- Thesis statement organizes and outlines the ideas for the body paragraph.
- The thesis statement is not a individual announcement.
- Never use expressions such as “In this essay I am going to compare, my essay is about…” in a formal essay.
- The conclusion brings the paper to an ordinary natural and beautiful end, sometimes leaving the reader with a final thought on the subject.
Connectors that show similarities or comparisons
- In addition
- Compared to
- Just as
- As well as
- Same as
- At the same time
Connectors that show differences and contrast
- On the contrary
- On the other hand
- Even though
- In contrast
Basic Methods for Organizing Comparison / Contrast Paragraphs
- If you let X and Y stand for the two subjects being compared, then you can use the block method in which you tell all about X, then tell all about Y. Thus you discuss X in a block and Y in a block.
- If you let X and Y stand for the two subjects being compared, then you compare them point by point. Every time you say something about X, you also say something about Y – right in the same sentence or in the sentence immediately following.
The Point by Point MethodBack to Top
The Point by Point method is also called the alternating method or slice method which makes a comparison of the items one point or criteria at a time. The main topic or theme statement or sentence aims on the point being used as the base for comparison rather than the item. A comparison of one point of a subject with a point of the other subject is called the Point by Point Method.
- Keeps each set of ideas, arguments, thoughts for discussion
- The reader does not have to remember as much facts and figures.
- Keeps the paper undoubtedly well planned and organized
- Avoids summary
- Can appear automatic and monotonous
- Does not provide a combined discussion or conversation of the two sides
Point 1 - discuss A
Point 1 - discuss B
Discussion about overall links between A and B
Point 2 – discuss A
Point 2 - discuss B
Discussion about overall links between A and B
Block MethodBack to Top
Block Method describes all the similarities in the first body paragraph and then all the dissimilarities and differences in the second body paragraph. A presentation of all facts and supporting details about one topic followed by the facts and supporting details about the second topic
- Offers the complete picture of the two sides
- Can be more effective if the essay is short and covers a general issue
- Does not appear as monotonous and boring
- If the writer is not careful it tends to become a summary
- The paper is not always organized clearly
- Is not successful for papers over 3-4 page
Point 1 - about A
Point 2 - about B
Point 1 about B (with discussion about relation to A)
Point 2 about B (with discussion about relation to A)
Structure of a Compare and Contrast EssayBack to Top
- Body Paragraphs
Comparison or Contrast Essay TopicsBack to Top
- Apple vs. Microsoft
- Republican vs. Democrat
- Monarchy vs. Presidency
- Childhood vs. Adulthood
- Communism vs. Capitalism
- Mozart vs. Beethoven
- Friends vs. Family
- Newton vs. Einstein
- Go on Vacation vs. Stay at Home
- Halloween night to prom night.
- Christopher Columbus to early astronauts.
- Living on a farm to living in the city.
- Being a teen to being a toddler.
- Your experiences before and after giving up a bad habit
- The car you own and the car you dream of owning
- Your best birthday to your worst birthday.
ExerciseBack to Top
Choose one of the essay topics, and write a comparison or contrast essay.
- Compare or contrast two musical styles, such as jazz and reggae.
- Compare or contrast two restaurants.
- Compare or contrast doing research at the library with doing research on the Internet.
- Compare or contrast living on campus with living off campus.
- Compare or contrast raising children in a city and raising children in a small town.
It’s paralyzing. Moving forward seems impossible, and self-doubt creeps in. You feel like a lost puppy, unsure of what to do next.
When writer’s block strikes, it can be doggone demoralizing. But the good news is that an outline is your best friend for getting organized and ready to write.
In this post, I’ll show you how to develop a compare and contrast essay outline that lets you kick writer’s block to the curb and craft a structurally sound essay about anything.
Let’s start with making sure everyone’s on the same page about what makes up a compare and contrast essay. Ready?
What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?In the simplest terms, a compare and contrast essay takes two subjects (i.e., objects, events, people, or places)—closely related or vastly different—and focuses on what about them is the same or what’s different or focuses on a combination of similarities and differences.
It’s not, however, just a simple comparison – that’d be too easy, right?
It must serve a larger purpose by doing one of the following:
- State something unknown.
- Clear up a misunderstanding.
- Show that one thing is superior to another.
- Lead to a new way of doing/seeing/understanding something.
- Argue a point with supported facts.
There are several formats for writing a compare and contrast essay, but I’ll use point-by-point organization to make my outline.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: Point-by-Point Organization
The point-by-point comparison focuses on comparing and contrasting one aspect about both subjects at the same time.
It’s typically easier for readers to follow this structure. It provides a clear, easy-to-follow structure. To keep things simple, I’ll use a 5-paragraph essay structure to create a compare and contrast essay outline.
The outline consists of three parts:
- Body Paragraphs
- The first difference between subjects
- The second difference between subjects
- The third difference between subjects
Now that you have the basic structure down, let’s break down the components using my two favorite four-legged beasts: Molly and Morgan.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: Introduction
The introduction is where you introduce your topic both in broad and specific terms. It’s also where make your thesis statement. The thesis statement provides the main point of or ideas within your essay.
The introduction has three key elements. I’ll go through each separately.
1. Introduction to the main topic
To introduce your main topic, you ideally want to start with a hook sentence and then detail the specifics of the topic itself.
Comparing and contrasting Morgan and Molly, my opening lines to introduce the topic might read something like this:
“Do opposites really attract? The law of attraction says they do, but is this phenomenon limited to humans? It’s definitely not, nor is it limited to romantic relationships. Dogs with drastically different personalities and habits form close attachments all the time.”
2.Specific subjects to compare and contrast
Next you need to identify who or what you’re comparing and contrasting specifically under the main topic and theme.
The next lines in my introduction might look something like this:
“The dogs in my household, while similar in many ways simply because they’re dogs, are vastly different creatures. Molly is a 70-pound bully who likes to pounce, lick, and paw at canines and humans until she gets her way. Morgan, on the other hand, is a 50-pound sweetheart who is content with whatever is going on. Despite their differences, the two dogs are strongly attached to one another.”
3. Thesis statement
Finally, to wrap up your intro, you want to express the specific aspects you’re comparing and contrasting. This provides a clear idea of where your essay is going.
My thesis statement focuses on three specific habits/characteristics of my rambunctious dogs. It might be something like this:
“Most notably, Molly and Morgan differ in how they accessorize, what their favorite toys are, and how they deal with downtime, yet the two have a strong bond as ‘sisters’ who cuddle at every opportunity.”
Whew! The introduction is often the toughest part. It’s where you’ll lay out the structure of your essay. (For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to write the introduction last.) Since that’s done, we’ll move on to Part B, the body paragraphs.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: The Body Paragraphs
Since I’m focusing on just three aspects about Molly and Morgan, I’ll have three body paragraphs. Under the point-by-point organization for a compare and contrast essay outline, you’ll need as many paragraphs as the number of aspects you’re comparing and contrasting.
Each paragraph will have a topic sentence focused on the aspect you’re comparing and contrasting. Each paragraph will also have two details about each subject as they relate to the aspect:
Body paragraph #1
The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence of my first paragraph might look like this:
Aspect #1 – Topic sentence: “The first difference between Molly and Morgan is the way they accessorize; while both are budding fashionistas, each of the girls has her own personal style.”
If you can ignore their cuteness (yup, I’m biased, but you have to admit they’re pretty adorable, right?), we’ll dive into the two details for each dog. My detail sentences might look like this:
Subject #1: Molly
- Detail #1: “Molly takes the sporty approach and is perfectly content with her owner’s baseball cap firmly on her head.”
- Detail #2: “Her choice in headwear is indicative of the brute, in-your-face interactions with her sister and owners.”
Subject #2: Morgan
- Detail #1: “On the other hand, Morgan prefers the downhome, classic country look of a bandana.”
- Detail #2: “Her accessory preference speaks to her humble, attention-loving and passive demeanor.”
See how easy crafting a paragraph is when you break it down?
You could write paragraphs in your sleep now, right? No? Okay, let’s do the same thing for the second and third body paragraphs.
Body paragraph #2
Aspect #2 – Topic sentence: “Another difference between the girls is their favorite toys; even though they are both equally protective of their favorites, their choices contradict their personalities.”
Subject #1: Molly
- Detail #1: “Molly prefers to cuddle up with her favorite stuffed animal (which changes over time as she eats them).”
- Detail #2: “She often can be found protectively cuddling the stuffed animal in her sleep and making sure her owners give it plenty of love, too, by pushing the drool-covered plush in their faces at any opportunity.”
Subject #2: Morgan
- Detail #1: “Conversely, Morgan prefers the traditional rawhide bone.”
- Detail #2: “She will growl, snarl, and bare teeth to protect it from anyone (even her owners!).”
Two body paragraphs down – only one to go. If you’re struggling, just take a breather.
Take your time, and work through the outline one section at a time if you need to.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your compare and contrast essay outline doesn’t have to be either (unless you’re a procrastinator).
Body paragraph #3:
Now we’ll look at my third body paragraph. The final body paragraph wraps up the last aspect identified in the thesis. Mine might be constructed something like this:
Aspect #3 – Topic Sentence: “The final difference between the two pups is how they deal with downtime, more specifically, their ability to just chill while ignoring (or not ignoring) distractions.”
Subject #1: Molly
- Detail #1: “Molly isn’t content unless she’s getting attention, even if that attention is simply having a warm human body next to her; she’s frequently found flopping on the couch looking pensive and bored out of her pay-attention-to-me-now-or-I-will-lick-your face-endlessly mind.
- Detail #2: “While it’s sometimes possible to catch a photo-op with her sandwiched between pillows wearing a pleading look, breaking out the camera usually produces a face-licking attack before the shot is even focused.”
Subject #2: Morgan
- Detail #1: “Morgan, however, handles downtime differently. Perfectly content without constant attention, Morgan takes it as an opportunity to curl up and catch some ZZZs.”
- Detail #2: “A heavy sleeper who snores and runs in her sleep while dreaming of chasing squirrels, Morgan is happy sleeping for hours and is undisturbed by camera flashes and clicks.”
That’s it. The body paragraphs are complete. Not so bad, was it?
While I had three body paragraphs, your outline might have only two. Or it might have five. It depends on the number of points you’re comparing and contrasting.
Now we’re ready to wrap things up with the conclusion.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: ConclusionHot diggity dog! If you’ve made it this far, you’re in the home stretch—developing the conclusion of your compare and contrast essay outline.
The conclusion is the easiest part. You’ve already set the stage for it with your thesis statement and body paragraphs. It’s just a matter of putting it all together while focusing on three areas:
1. Summary of main points
First, you want to summarize your main points. It’s more than a simple summary, though. You want to synthesize your thesis with the information in your body paragraphs.
I might summarize with a few sentences like this:
“In conclusion, these three aspects clearly show how Molly and Morgan go about their doggy lives in different ways. While Molly likes to accessorize with baseball caps, cuddle with stuffed animals, and sit around looking bored, Morgan prefers rawhide bones, relaxing solo, and sleeping contently whenever she can.”
Next, you want to evaluate what you’ve discussed or talk about possible future developments.
This is where you show the greater purpose of your topic. Your conclusion should answer one question: What does it all mean?
As you work on this part, keep in mind that your conclusion should bring things full circle to your introduction.
My compare and contrast essay outline requires just focusing on an evaluation.
My evaluation sentences might look something like this:
“In some ways, the differences parallel their personalities—Molly as a brute and Morgan as a sweetheart. The differences also show how both dogs sometimes stray from their normal behavior, notably through how they interact with their favorite toys. Taken collectively, however, their differences don’t stop the law of attraction from coming into play. Though they like a different look, like to play with different toys, and like to relax differently, they adore each other and cuddle up together at every opportunity.”
Finally, you need to show the significance of the differences. What was your end goal in showing the differences? (Hint: Refer back to your introduction and thesis statement if you’re stuck here.)
I might use one sentence to show the significance, tie everything back to the intro, and create finality all in one swoop by writing something like this:
“This shows that opposites really do attract—even among canines.”
Download Template for Your Own Compare and Contrast Outline
Have your own compare and contrast essay to write? Make the process easier, and banish writer’s block by downloading this compare and contrast essay outline in MS Word or PDF format to get started.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template (.doc)
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template (PDF)
Whether you’re ready to write or still flushing out your topic, using an outline keeps you on-task. It keeps you on-topic to create a logical, easy-to-follow format.
Additional Help for Your Compare and Contrast Essay Outline
Still struggling? Try reading some completed example compare and contrast essays. If that doesn’t work or you’re still feeling a bit unsure, read more about this type of essay.
Finally, don’t forget about editing and proofreading! Even the best writers make mistakes or have difficulty recognizing weak points in their own writing.
If you’re aiming to put your best paw—err draft—forward, have one of our talented Kibin editors edit your essay for grammar, logic, clarity, and flow.
Write on, and best of luck!
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