How To Write a Compare and Contrast Essay from Start to End

author By Mary Boies

As a student, you are going to write many assignments, each with unique requirements. Essays form most of the assignments written in college. One of the most common essays that you probably will write is the comparison and contrast essay.

what is a Compare and contrast essay

When asked to write an essay based on comparing and contrasting, you are expected to focus on how two subjects: things, ideas, phenomena, people, or places are similar or different to one another.

You are assigned to write such assignments so that you can put to work your critical thinking, reasoning, and creative writing skills. Some of the signal words for compare and contrast essays include compare, contrast, similarities, or differences, indicating that you are expected to write such an essay.

Are you a student interested in learning how to write the perfect compare and contrast essay? If yes, you are in the right place. In this guide, you will learn everything crucial you need to know about writing comparison and contrast essays. The information provided should help anyone to write an excellent or decent essay.

Let’s begin.

What is a compare and contrast essay?

A compare and contrast essay is a rhetorical style essay that analyzes two subjects by comparing them and then contrasting them. The objective of a compare and contrast essay assignment is to test the ability of students to research and analyze things. Or to clearly show the relationship between objects or ideas.

You should try to write a compare and contrast essay at least once a month. This is because of three reasons.

First, doing so will improve your memory because it will enhance your ability to remember concepts, subjects, ideas, and things.

Second, doing so will enhance your critical thinking skills (reasoning and analyzing skills).

Lastly, writing a compare and contrast essay at least once every month will help you to improve your essay writing skills. Everyone who has spent a year or two in college will quickly tell you how extremely beneficial this is.

A good compare and contrast essay should make a meaningful argument about the subjects under comparison.

Compare and contrast Methods or Basis

You can write your compare and contrast essay in two different ways or basis of comparison. You can use the block method/structure or the point-by-point structure.

The block method is most appropriate for comparing objects with only a few aspects or features to compare. In contrast, the point-by-point method is the most suitable method for comparing objects with many features.

Many students prefer the block method because it is much easier to create an outline. It is also much easier to write. It basically leaves the comparison element to the reader by simply providing the information. The point-by-point method presents a feature/aspect common in both objects and discusses the significance of the feature in both objects. This method enables a more direct and useful comparison than the block method.

Block method outline template and example

If the objects you want to compare are somewhat difficult to compare or analyze, you should use this method to compare them. This method or structure means you present an object and analyze all the features or aspects in a paragraph. And then, in the next paragraph, you present another object and analyze the same features.

Block method outline template

I. Introduction

II. Body paragraph 1: Object A

III. Body paragraph 2: Object B

IV. Body paragraph 3: Similarity & Differences

V. Conclusion

Of course, the topic sentence of a body paragraph should always be a strong topic sentence to provide a lead for the rest of the paragraph. Professors often deduct points when they do not see strong topic sentences throughout essays.

Point by point template and example

When writing a long compare and contrast essay, you must compare feature by feature rather than object by object. This is because it is easier to see how a feature relates to both objects when you do things this way.

So whenever you have many features, your paragraphs should be feature-based instead of point-based.

Point by point method outline template

I. Introduction

II. Body paragraph 1: Feature (aspect) 1

III. Body paragraph 2: Feature 2

IV. Body paragraph: Feature 3

V. Conclusion

In each body paragraph, you should discuss how significant the feature is in both objects. This will enable a clear and easy-to-understand analysis. If you have more than three features or aspects to look at in both objects, simply add body paragraphs to the outline above.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Sometimes professors allow you to choose your own compare and contrast essay topic. However, it can be challenging to decide what to compare, especially if you are in a hurry or your mind is not settled. In this section, you will discover interesting compare and contrast essay topics/ideas that you can borrow.

General Compare and Contrast Topics

Compare and contrast essay topics on history

Compare and contrast essay topics on healthcare

Compare and contrast essay topics on technology

Compare and contrast essay topics on college

Compare and contrast essay topics on politics

Compare and contrast essay topics on sports

Related Reading: Compare and Contrast topics to write an essay about.

7 Steps to write a top-grade compare and contrast essay

Like any other essay, a compare and contrast paper should adopt a good organizational structure for flow of ideas. Here are the seven steps you should take when writing your essay.

1. Choose your topic and subject

In some cases, your professor will give you the topic to research and write on. If you already have a topic, you should skip this step. If you do not have a topic and have been asked to choose one, you should choose a topic with two different and similar objects simultaneously.

You can even pick one of the many compare and contrast topics shared in the section above. Alongside the topic, pick two subjects that will be the core of your paper.

2. Research the differences and similarities

Once you are given a topic or choose a topic, you should research the differences and similarities. Drawing a two-column table and comparing the different features of the two objects will help you write a good compare and contrast essay. This is because it will make everything very clear for you. You can also use a Venn diagram to visualize the similarities and differences between the subjects.

3. Write down your central argument

An excellent compare and contrast essay makes a strong statement on the topic. So after researching and finding out the differences and similarities of features in your two objects, you should write a thesis statement. From the table you have made, you should be able to quickly notice a theme. You should make this theme your main argument.

For example, if your topic is on two cities and you notice that your table of comparison shows one city is more prosperous than the other, you should make this your thesis statement/central argument. You should say something to the effect of City A is more successful than City B because of 1, 2, 3".

Once you have made your central argument, you should find it somewhat easy to write the supporting arguments (topic sentences) in the body paragraphs.

4. Choose an organizational structure

There are two types of compare and contrast organizational structures widely accepted in the US – the block structure and the point-by-point structure. We already talked about these two structures earlier in this article. It is up to you to choose which one between these two structures you will use.

A block organizational structure is perfect when the list of features is short, while the point-by-point structure is perfect when the list of features is long. So choose an organizational structure and stick to it throughout your essay.

5. Create an essay outline based on your structure

Depending on the organizational structure you chose in the step above, you should create an outline in this step. If you chose the block structure, you should create a compare and contrast block structure outline. If you chose the point-by-point structure, you should create a compare and contrast point-by-point structure outline.

There is a template for a block structure essay and one for a point-by-point essay. Use the one you prefer. Fill it in with your thesis and all the information you gathered during your research. Make sure your outline is comprehensive. A comprehensive outline will make it easy for you to write your essay.

6.     Write your first draft

Once you have a detailed outline, you should start writing your first draft. When you start writing, write to the end. Do not stop for anything. This will help you to finish writing your essay faster. So just write until you get to the end. And when writing, fill in the supporting evidence.

Back up your supporting arguments with evidence from personal experience, classwork, or research. Use examples generously throughout your essay. Whenever you feel stuck, just refer back to your outline and continue from where you left.

Use transitional words throughout your essay to ensure your sentences and paragraphs have a nice flow.

7.     Carefully proofread your essay

Once you are done writing your essay, you should carefully proofread everything to ensure your entire essay is perfect. Check punctuation, grammar, spelling, and so on. Ensure you find and eliminate all minor and major errors in your work. Once you've done this, get a friend to read your essay for you. They may be able to find errors you missed. Ask them to highlight errors plus any sentences that are not understandable.

Once your friend is done, you should make all corrections you think are necessary and then read your essay aloud one more time. You can also hire a professional proofreader to read your essay and correct it so that it meets the rubric requirements.

Finally, if everything is flowing and easy to understand, your essay is ready for submission.

Compare and contrast essay writing tips

By now, you have probably grasped all it takes to write a great comparative essay. However, there are a few tips that you can use to spice up your essay. When assigned to write a compare & contrast essay, follow these tips:

  1. Brainstorm using a Venn diagram or table. A top-quality compare and contrast essay must show high level of analysis. To achieve such levels, you should brainstorm before beginning your essay. Brainstorming helps you to generate ideas and points for your essay. You can use a Venn diagram to visualize the similarities and differences between the two subjects.
  2. Create an outline. Creating an outline might seem like a lot of work, but it is not. You should create an outline if you want to find it easy to write your essay.
  3. Choose the point-by-point organization structure. You can choose either the block method or the point-by-point method to structure your compare and contrast essay. The best method is the point-by-point method because it ensures an excellent comparison of objects.
  4. Do not complicate things. Sometimes people overthink when it comes to writing compare and contrast essays. This can lead to complicating things and overthinking. Writing a compare and contrast essay is as simple as researching, creating a 2-column comparison table, creating an outline, and then typing.
  5. Assume you are writing for a layperson. Making this assumption is nice because it allows you to inform them about everything important. Simply put, assuming your reader knows nothing will make you make your writing simple and very easy to understand. Your lecturer will really like your easy-to-understand essay.
  6. Support your information with evidence. To write the perfect compare and contrast essay, you need to support your claims and ideas with evidence. Failure to do so could make you lose marks.
  7. Make sure every paragraph has a strong topic sentence. You must make sure your body paragraphs begin with a strong topic sentence to introduce the rest of the paragraph. Professors hate it when paragraphs are written without a strong topic sentence.
  8. Conclude the essay with a significant highlight. The best way to conclude your essay is using a key highlight from your essay. You can also conclude your essay by summarizing the key differences and similarities and then writing a powerful closing sentence.

Transition phrases to use when writing a compare and contrast essay

Transition words are important when writing a compare and contrast essay. They are essential for showing the relationship between things and for creating flow.

The table below shows examples of different transitional words you can use to enhance your compare and contrast essay.

Logical relationship

Examples of transitional phrases


similarly, likewise, also, just as, in like manner,


still, yet, in contrast, in spite of, but, however,  nevertheless, in spite of


finally, then, next, first, second, third


then, earlier, immediately, at last, after, before, meanwhile, now, later

Cause & effect

thus, therefore, so, hence, consequently, accordingly

Final remarks

Compare & contrast essays are somewhat difficult to write. Most students have difficulties writing compare and contrast essays because they are not very common. However, the information we have provided in this post is sufficient to help anyone write a decent compare & contrast essay.

If you are confident you have got all you need to write a compare & contrast essay on your own, you should start writing one. Contact us now if you are stuck or feel like you will get stuck. We've got professional tutors who have the knowledge and the experience to write excellent compare and contrast essays. Hire us now to get your assignment done fast ASAP!

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