How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

Main features of a compare and contrast essay

A compare and contrast essay is one in which the essay writer has two or more separate pieces of work\media\events to compare with each other in an effective manner. Compare and contrast paper can be on any particular aspect of the two or more pieces of work which are to be compared – they can be compared as a whole, or have some aspect of them compared, or the characters which appear in them compared, or perhaps have the reactions to them both compared. Such papers can be very wide-ranging in their scope, which is perhaps why they are so popular.

A compare and contrast essay has an introduction and a conclusion, along with three to five body paragraphs between. Normally, most compare and contrast essays have a clear preference given to one of the items which are under discussion, which naturally allows for a distribution of work which goes something like: two (or four) paragraphs for comparisons, and one (or two) paragraphs for contrasts. This is a normal way to write such an essay as it allows for both comparison, and contrast, as these type of writing, do not normally focus on one or the other.

Compare and contrast essays require a high degree of understanding of the source material, and need a lot of accurate references back to them. This is to fully show how each piece of media either compares or contrasts with each other.

How to start writing

Starting a compare and contrast essay should involve a thorough research project on the media which is under the microscope. This type of paper is best if the writer knows exactly what they are talking about. Being able to properly articulate what they mean is also a good place to start.

  • Make sure that you use the introduction to articulate exactly what you want the paper to be about; this will set the readers up for the rest of your work.
  • The introduction should be written clearly in order to lure people in.
  • Never put quotations in the introduction.

How to start an outline

An outline is very useful when it comes to this type of writing as it allows you to see how it finally will look like. This doesn’t make it set in stone. Write down each paragraph with a short description of what needs to go in it and add any relevant research or quotes.

How to write a thesis statement

The thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay should be handled with care as it needs to include both the comparing and contrasting aspects. Try and boil down your research to find the main points which you are going to make: there is your thesis statement.

How to write an introduction

To introduce the subject of your paper, make sure that you include both aspects of what you are trying to do. Don’t assume that your audience knows what is being discussed and give them any relevant information they might need about the general topic.

How to write body paragraphs

Body paragraphs is the main point of the compare and contrast essay. They are where the thesis statement given in the introduction is fully fleshed out in its constituent parts, with references and quotes to back up the research and opinions which are given. In compare and contrast essays, of course, the compare and contrast parts are kept entirely separate, generally with strict divides between them. It does not affect the paragraphs themselves, but it does affect where they might be in the essay. If the paper is more about comparisons, then the contrasts will be the last paragraph or two; if it is the other way around, then the comparisons will be relegated to the final paragraphs instead.

Tips on body writing

  • Make sure that there is a logical progression of ideas – especially remember to group compares together and contrasts together.
  • Each body paragraph should handle one particular idea, so one comparison or one contrast.
  • The body paragraphs should all have one topic sentence to introduce them, and one concluding sentence to connect it with the next paragraph.
  • Compare and contrast essays require lots of references and quotations in order for the ideas in them to be fully explored – add quotes which are both big and small to each paragraph.
  • Make sure all quotations fit the ideas being conveyed in the paragraph.
  • Make sure that all of your quotes are properly cited so that you don’t get pulled up for that, and there is no confusion as to who said what.

How to finish a compare and contrast essay

Finishing a compare and contrast essay is significant because there are a lot of threads to draw in, especially considering that comparisons are fundamentally different to contrasts. A good finish to this kind of writing will bring everything together and tie it to the thesis statement which was made in the introduction, showing how it all works together.

Finishing this type of essay requires giving a final conclusion to why these various subjects can be compared and contrasted with one another, which can sometimes be difficult to do. There are a lot of threads to tie together, which is why it is important to keep the conclusion tight and to the point so that nobody loses track of where they are.

Tips on conclusion writing

  • Reiterate the thesis statement from the introduction.
  • Make sure that the conclusion takes into account all of the research which has been done.
  • Make sure that you don’t get mixed up with the comparisons you have been making, and the contrasts. They are all part of the same conclusion, but they are still separate.
  • The conclusion needs to be well written to showcase all of the research which has been done throughout the essay.
  • Remember not to put any quotes in the conclusion.
  • If the introduction included any miscellaneous information which readers might need to understand the topic, make sure to repeat it in the conclusion, to remind people about it, and to bring it to mind again.

Tips on revision

  • Make sure that all the quotations are properly sourced – since they are so important for this type of essay, it is doubly important to have them be correct in your essay.
  • Make sure that the spelling and grammar is correct – try and get some fresh eyes to have a look to and pick out any mistakes you might have missed from looking at things too often.
  • Make sure that the essay follows a logical progression. This is stricter for compare and contrast essays than it can be for some other essays, as the ways in which the comparison and contrasts should be placed are quite strict in themselves.
  • Make sure that the thesis statement of your essay stands out clearly in both the introduction and the conclusion so that it is easily seen.

Compare and contrast essay sample

Living on campus is very different to living off campus, and each one has its own advantages. This paper aims to compare the two living situations, while also contrasting them, to show how they differ. There are a number of reasons why people might choose to live on campus – they might be away from home for their further education, or they might want to try living away from home (parents will be reassured by it still being a somewhat regulated environment). However, living at home also has its benefits, by allowing people to save money, or simply by being the best option if the educational institution is nearby.

Living at home is sometimes a more appropriate option than living on campus – if you live near the campus, near enough to commute, then is there really a point to living on it? It might end up being money spent for the sake of it, rather than because it is needed.

Living on campus is something which represents an adventure; is possibly why so many people like it. Living on campus means getting a taste of freedom which is denied to you when living at home. Parents who are worried about that freedom maybe going to their children’s head can be assured by the campus still being a regulated environment.

There are good and bad points to every single living situation, and this paper aimed to compare and contrast both living at home and living on campus to see how they are different. Each one has its own good points but they are in the end different solutions to the same problem, and that problem has different solutions.

This is obviously just a sample but hopefully will provide some insight into how to work with compare and contrast essays.

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