Guidelines for Comparison-Contrast Essay

 

What Exactly Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

Simply put, it is an essay evaluating the similarities and differences between two subjects. These subjects will be in the same category, but different. You might compare and contrast two different kinds of pets, or two novels from the same historical time period. Here is a step-by-step guide to writing a great essay.

 

Step 1 - Choose Your Subject

Remember that your two subjects must be different, but still in the same ballpark, to create a meaningful compare-and-contrast essay. For example, if you want to write about two different historical figures, it makes sense to choose two great artists rather than an artist and a politician.

Examples:

    • Modigliani and Picasso
    • Mozart and Salieri
    • Vegetarians and meat eaters
    • Humanities-minded and Mathematically-minded
    • Extroverts and Introverts
    • Fatalist and Voluntarism
    • Orthodox and Catholicism
    • Democracy and Totalities
    • Generation Y and Generation Z

 

Step 2 - Brainstorm Similarities and Differences

Make two lists: one list of similarities, and another of differences. If you are a visual person, a Venn diagram can facilitate this process. Simply create two overlapping circles, one for each of the topics that you are comparing. Traits that differ are noted separately, within those that they share are written in the overlapping space. This is a helpful visual aid, because it organizes similarities and differences clearly. All you have to do is glance at your Venn diagram to get a sense of the things that you could write about. If you prefer to focus on one subject at a time, jot your lists down on a blank sheet of paper and flip it over to the other side for the other subject. Remember to keep characteristics of the different subjects somewhat parallel. This will make it easier to structure a good argument.

«Compare
«Venn

 

Step 3 - Reflect on Your Main Argument

A good compare-and-contrast essay goes beyond a simple listing of similarities and differences to make a meaningful statement about a larger topic. When you look at the lists you’ve made, what strikes you as significant? What do these similarities and differences say about the topic? That will be your main argument.

 

Step 4 - Decide on Your Organizational Structure

There are possibilities for structuring a compare-and-contrast essay. 

 

 

For the block structure, all of the information about one of the objects being compared/contrasted is given first, and all of the information about the other object is listed afterwards. For the point-by-point structure, each similarity (or difference) for one object is followed immediately by the similarity (or difference) for the other. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is easier to write, while the latter is generally clearer as it ensures that the similarities/differences are more explicit.

(adapted from here)

 

Step 5 - Write an Outline

Craft an outline that fits the structure you have chosen. Traditionally, an essay consists of an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Consider including four body paragraphs instead to give balance to your two subjects.

 

Step 6 - Fill in Supporting Evidence

As you begin to write your essay, back up your assertions with evidence from research, reading, or personal experience. If you are writing about similarities and differences between the poetry of Shakespeare and Keats, include plenty of quotes from their poems to support your statements. With any information that you include, be sure to explain why it matters in the context of your larger argument.

 

Step 7 - Craft Your Essay with Strong Transitional Words

Transitional words give your essay a nice flow from one statement to the next. When comparing, use words like “both,” “likewise” and “similarly.” Words such as “nonetheless,” “on the other hand,” and “whereas” are ideal for forming a contrast.

 

Step 8 - Proofread and Revise Carefully

Once you have finished, read your essay several times to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Make use of spell check and grammar check tools in your word processing program. If possible, get a friend to cast a fresh pair of eyes on it to find mistakes you might have missed. We often have difficulty reading our own work objectively and can miss silly mistakes.

Follow these steps, and you will be well on your way to writing a compare-and-contrast essay that cannot fail to impress your reading audience.

 source: taken and adapted from here

 

 

Last modified: Friday, 13 November 2020, 5:20 PM