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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Paper? You’ve Never Thought about This Way!

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A compare and contrast essay is a type of academic or other writing used to analyze the distinctions and/or relationships that exist between two different objects. In the course of your academic career, you would be asked to write comparative essay along with psychology lit review that involves comparing and contrasting two things.

Typical examples of things you may be required to compare and contrast include two theories, two texts, two scientific processes, two historical figures and others. Typically, compare and contrast papers that require weighing ‘this’ and ‘that’ equally could be about two similar objects with crucial differences (e.g. two chemicals with distinct effects on a process), or two similar objects with crucial differences but ultimately having some things in common.

Difference between Compare and Contrast Paper and Other Types of Writing

While descriptive paper describes a process or event just as an analysis paper tries to analyze a work critically, a compare and contrast paper details the common traits as well as differences between the objects or things being compared.

However, these share similarities in terms of the steps or writing procedure. For instance, compare and contrast papers would have a topic, topic sentence or statement, introduction, and conclusion just like a descriptive or analysis paper. Besides, a compare and contrast paper would also require references or citations of the sources consulted.

Tips on Writing Compare and Contrast Essay

how to write a compare and contrast paper

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Formulate Your Argument

Choose a subject or topic you can compare and contrast

This is where the success (or otherwise) of writing a compare and contrast paper begins. When choosing subjects to compare and contrast, consider the following;

  • Think of two subjects or objects that belong to the same category but are different in some notable way.
  • Think of two subjects or objects that seem not to share any similarity but have something in common, surprisingly.

Ensure that your subjects can be meaningfully discussed

In essence, the chosen subjects should enable you go beyond merely pointing out the similarities and differences between object A and object B. As a result, readers would see the need for the decision to compare the subjects.

To help you make a good choice in this case, you can do the following;

  • Think of the “so what” question that can arise from your choice of subjects
  • Compare and contrast essay topics

Brainstorm the topic you’ve chosen

You should brainstorm on the similarities and differences of the chosen subjects, to help you pinpoint the major aspects to concentrate on. In return, it can serve as a guide when formulating your thesis.

  • You can leverage a Venn diagram to visualize the points of similarities and differences of your subjects.
  • Alternatively, you can create a list of each subject’s characteristics or qualities. Then, scan the lists thoroughly for similar traits as well as differences.

Ponder on the particularly important similarities and differences

In the lists you created in step 3 above, concentrate on the salient similarities and differences.

compare and contrast essay writing advice

Develop the thesis of your compare and contrast paper

The thesis for this type of essay can take different directions. However, you must ensure it makes an argument explaining the need to place the subjects side by side. For instance;

  • Let the readers know why subject A is more desirable than subject B. Here’s an example; democracy is better than autocracy because the masses have a say in governance and detects the pace to an extent.
  • Let readers know how the chosen subjects compare and contrast from each other
  • Aid readers to make comparison between the two

Organize Your Essay

Determine the structure

There are various ways to achieve this, it all depends on what you consider most suitable for you. You can always alter the initial organization if you want to.

You can organize using methods such as:

  • Subject by subject: This method would focus on all of Topic A’s points, then move to all of Topic B’s points. In essence, you can decide to first finish with the points for A before starting to write the points for B.
  • Compare before contrasting: In essence, present the comparisons for A and B, then, proceed to the contrasts for A and B.
  • Point by point: This method of organization will make you go back and forth between the points. However, it makes it clear from the onset that you’re writing a compare and contrast essay.

Make an outline for your essay

This will aid you in working out your essay’s main organizational structure and will provide a template that you can follow while developing your ideas.

In essence, your essay would have this structure:

  • Introduction: The compare and contrast essay introduction is usually the first paragraph and would contain the basic information regarding the subjects you’re comparing and contrasting. It presents your essay’s thesis as well s the direction that the essay would go.
  • Body: This is the section of your essay that would contain the details and evidence supporting the claims in the essay. Ensure that each section of the body handles a different segment of evidence or proof.
  • Acknowledgment: This is the acknowledgment of ‘completive arguments’. In essence, it’s the paragraph that recognizes the existence of other counter-arguments and would also show how the counter-arguments veer off the way.
  • Conclusion: This is where you summarize the evidence contained in your essay. This section will state your thesis all over, to provide additional information to the one contained in the introduction section.

Features of Good Compare and Contrast Paper

  • It does not stop at comparing and contrasting but engages the points of comparison and contrast to present valuable arguments about the subjects under review
  • It uses contrasting words as well as words that best reflect comparison
  • It follows the right structure or format such as the one outlined above.

Finally, your paper should feature compare and contrast literature review, just like when writing a critical analysis.

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