A Student’s Guide to Writing Compare and Contrast Essays

A Student’s Guide to Writing Compare and Contrast Essays

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Many students will agree that essay writing is one of the more difficult (yet crucial) tasks they must regularly accomplish, all the while placing much importance on the quality of the work and on its timely submission.

Be that as it may, there is something you can do to make this task easier. With the proper writing technique and practice, you can come up with an essay that will impress your professors and get you a high grade.

If you are tasked to write about two topics, for example, a compare and contrast essay is a great approach. It allows you to explore the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. Here is a guide shared by the best essay writers online to help you master this essay type.

Step 1: Choose a topic

You may already be provided with two subjects to write about for your essay, but if you haven’t, keep in mind that choosing a topic must be done with care. Basically, you need to think of subjects that are different but are under the same umbrella so you can come up with a more meaningful essay by exploring their connections and differences.

Once you have a topic in mind, read everything you can about these two subjects. As you read, make notes and mark the important points. This will give you a headstart on your actual essay writing process.

Step 2: Make a list of similarities and differences

Create a list of all the similarities and differences between the subjects.

A Venn diagram is a great tool in facilitating this crucial step. Draw two overlapping circles; that’s one for each subject. Traits that they share should be written in the overlapping space while those that differ should be noted separately. This is an excellent visual tool that you can glance at throughout the essay writing process to remind you of the things you should include in your paper.

But if you want to focus on writing about one subject after the other, use a blank sheet of paper. Write everything about the first subject in front and the other subject at the back. Just make sure to keep the features of every subject parallel so you can easily organize a great argument.

Step 3: Choose an organizational structure

When organizing a comparison and contrast essay, there are different patterns you can use. Here are the two most commonly used organizational structures:


If you choose to use the subject-by-subject structure, you must write everything about the first subject before moving on to the next subject. If your paper is short, you can squeeze all the main points of every item into one paragraph. But it is also possible that you can have a few paragraphs for each item to make it more readable.

The problem with this structure is that your essay might appear to be just a list of points about the two subjects. And usually, college professors want more from your paper than just citing the traits of both subjects. Instead, they want you to do things more differently.

Thus, you should only use this structure if you are writing a strong, analytical paper. This approach is also a logical choice if you choose to write a lens comparison wherein you will use one subject to better understand another subject.


Instead of citing the traits of one subject after the other, the point-by-point structure allows you to write about one argument at a time. Depending on the number of things you want to say about each subject, you can discuss certain points in just one paragraph or separate each point in different paragraphs.

For instance, you can discuss the similarities in one paragraph and the differences in the next paragraphs. The key here is to be consistent by discussing the subjects in the same order for every point.

There are no hard or fast rules about organizing your essay. The bottom line is to choose an organizational structure that will make good sense for your argument and portray your points in the best possible way.

Step 4: Make an outline

An outline will help you craft your essay easily. But make sure to prepare an outline that will fit the organizational structure you chose. Basically, your essay must contain an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Step 5: Use strong, appropriate transitions

When writing compare and contrast essays, the use of transitions is crucial to avoid confusion. Also, this will guide your reader throughout your essay.

For comparison, you can use words such as the same, similar, in the same way, likewise, and like. For contrast, use words such as unlike, differ, although, in contrast, conversely, on the other hand, and on the contrary. These words will help in showing your intentions.

Step 6: Proofread and revise accordingly

Proofreading is a crucial step when writing essays. This means going through your work several times. Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, and revise everything accordingly. Most importantly, check for plagiarism.

Whenever possible, ask someone to read your work. Online professional writers can help you with this. They can check your work and give you some recommendations and tips to improve your writing skill.

Writing an essay can be overwhelming. But if you break it down, you will realize that essay writing can be fun and easy. And remember to enlist the help of experienced writers when possible as this can help make you become a better writer.

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