How to write a compare and contrast essay


One of the essential writing skills is to compare and contrast in an academic essay. Simply, it is a type of essay where you evaluate the differences and similarities between two subjects.

Step 1: When to compare and contrast

You’ll be asked to write a compare and contrast essay both in high school and university. Remember, comparing and contrasting are two different things, so you’ll need to decide if you’re going to compare or contrast. 

In your assignment instructions, you’ll be likely to have such essay topics:

Compare and contrast essay topics

On the other hand, some instructions are not clear whether you should compare and contrast. 

Other topics

With these type of topics,  it is always better to compare them with examples from the past. For example:

  • In your essay, you may compare the 2008 Crisis with the Great Depression.
  • Or, you may as well compare the Covid outbreak with other historical pandemics.

Step 2: How to effectively compare and contrast

These essays are all about comparing and contrasting two topics. As long as there are strong grounds for the both, you may contrast two different subjects, or you may compare two similar topics with a lot in common.

You might contrast American Society before and after the Civil War. You’ll likely find many differences in terms of social structure, politics, and social life.

These refer to that you’ll have strong grounds for contrasting as Civil War is a compelling historical incident.

It’s always better to clarify your contrast and comparison in your thesis statement so you and your reader can keep track of the paper.

Later on, you can create your paper based on your thesis statement, including comparing and contrasting or even both.

Remember, every paper has an aim. Consider what you’re trying to achieve with your compare and contrast paper. Then, develop your thesis statement and body paragraphs accordingly.

Step 3: Find a good topic, similarities, and differences

You need two different subjects for a compare and contrast essay. However, these two must eventually have similar grounds. We provided some examples below, let’s check them out. 

After finding the topic, list the similarities and differences. It’s always better to visualize knowledge so that you can create well-organized academic essays.

Step 4: Prepare an outline and write a thesis statement

Upon listing all the differences and similarities between the two subjects, you need to define your main argument and prepare an outline.

Writing the thesis statement

When you look at your list of differences and similarities, you need to choose the most striking difference as your thesis statement. This will intrigue the reader.

For example: If you compare and contrast Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the number of goals might be your main argument. You can base the whole essay on total scores and mention them in your thesis statement.

Preparing the outline

In any academic essay, preparing an outline is very important. You can make use of a traditional essay outline, as shown below.

essay outline infographic (740 × 540 px) 3

This example is based on a common 5 paragraph compare and contrast essay (introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion). If you’re planning a longer essay, you may add more contrasting and comparing paragraphs.

There are different structures of writing a compare and contrast essay. For example, you may write a detailed paragraph for the first subject and switch to other one in the next.

You can also construct your paragraphs to talk about both subjects. You can certainly present similarities and differences on the same paragraph.

Compare and contrast essay outline example

  1. Introduction
    1. Hook
    2. Background information
    3. Thesis statement

  2. Body paragraph 1
    1. Common ground
    2. First subject
    3. Second subject

  3. Body paragraph 2
    1. Common ground
    2. First subject
    3. Second subject

  4. Body paragraph 3
    1. Common ground
    2. First subject
    3. Second subject

  5. Conclusion
    1. Restatement
    2. Summary
    3. Concluding sentence

Compare and contrast essay introduction example


Are you an iPhone minimalist or an Android customizer? Hook sentence While both the iPhone and Android phones have many features and capabilities, the primary distinctions are in their design, operating system, and app availability. Background information Despite having similar features and capabilities, the choice between iPhone and Android smartphones ultimately comes down to a balance of simplicity and customization. Thesis statement

Compare and contrast essay body paragraph example

Body paragraph

Design: Common ground iPhones are renowned for their sleek, minimalist design and high-quality construction, with Apple's emphasis on simplicity and ease of usage. First subject In contrast, Transition phrase Android phones come in various styles and customization choices, allowing users to tailor their smartphones to their specific interests and preferences. Second subject

Compare and contrast essay conclusion example


Ultimately, the decision between these two smartphone types comes down to personal tastes and requirements. Restatement While iPhones have a clean appearance and a user-friendly operating system, Android phones have more customization possibilities and a more extensive app selection. Summary Individuals may make an informed decision and purchase the finest smartphone for their requirements by evaluating criteria like design, operating system, and app selection. Concluding sentence

Step 5: Add supporting evidence

When you write your body paragraphs, don’t forget to support your arguments with research and quotes (APA or MLA) when necessary.

As you see, research and reference are quite crucial in an academic paper. So, when you’re writing a compare and contrast paper, don’t miss this step. This is where your essay becomes serious and credible.

Step 6: Proofread

We tend to make a lot of writing mistakes when we’re deep into something. So when you finish, proofread your paper for grammar and punctuation mistakes such as tense selection, capitalization, and passive voice.

Writing an essay is almost like telling a story. You either tell formally or informally. So, a story without good storytelling is boring. Transition phrases make your story progress smoothly.

Lastly, make use of spell check and grammar tools during this step. After the grammar check and proofread, you’re finished.

If you’ve followed these steps carefully, you wrote a great compare and contrast essay.

Frequently Asked Questions

The classic five paragraph structure for this essay type can be achieved by writing an introduction, three compare and contrast body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Highlighting the most striking contrast of the two subjects might be a great idea for a compare and contrast essay hook.

First, you need to write down your thesis statement. After that, construct your introduction, each body paragraph in detail, and conclusion. Outlines make it easier for you to write the actual essay.

Ibrahim Akturk
Ibrahim Akturk
Content editor at Tamara Research. Translation major, huge coffee and baking nerd. Addicted to good music and great articles.

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