How to Write a Paper: Compare and Contrast

Writing a compare and contrast essay may seem like an easy task. You simply figure out how certain things are similar and different and then write about it, right? It’s actually not as simple as that, and you need to relate why the similarities and differences between the things you’re discussing matter. For example, a paper comparing and contrasting public schools and private schools should not simply be a list of the similarities and differences between these two different types of schools. Instead, you should consider why these similarities and differences matter.

Are public school’s better options for children? Do private schools better prepare kids for college? Thinking about these types of questions will help you to approach your assignment in a much better way and write a solid paper. By going beyond mere description, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of the items you are comparing.

7 Simple Steps to Great Compare and Contrast Papers

Step 1: Choosing an Appropriate Topic

Compare and Contrast Essay Writing - Rosenwald School

When choosing a topic for a compare and contrast essay, you’ll have to be careful about choosing things that are too similar or things that are too different. There should be enough points of commonality in your topics to write an interesting analysis, but there should also be key differences. For example, you wouldn’t want to write an essaycomparing and contrasting pink nail polish to red nail polish. Although there might be some changes, these topics are too similar. In the same way, you wouldn’t want to write about two things that are completely different, as this may cause you to struggle when thinking of commonalities. For example, a paper comparing and contrasting cats and houseplants would make little sense, and you’d struggle to come up with an effective argument.

Another important issue to consider when choosing a topic for a compare and contrast essay is your interest in the subjects being discussed. If you choose something that you are personally invested it, you’re likely to have a much easier time writing your paper. You should sit down and think about what’s important in your life at the moment. You may be surprised to discover that we all do a lot of compare-contrast thinking every day. Should you take the bus to school or drive your own vehicle? Should you buy a netbook or a laptop? Should you text or call the person you’ve just been on a date with? Although these may seem like simple things, questions like these can often turn into great essay topics.

Step 2: Brainstorming/Researching

Before you can begin writing your compare and contrast essay, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about what you are going to say. As noted before, you should try to choose a topic that you are interested in, as this will make the brainstorming and researching process a lot easier. Sit down at your computer or with a pencil and notepad and write down as many commonalities and differences as you can between your two topics. You’ll be able to flesh out these ideas later when you create an outline, but getting a good list down on paper to start is a great idea that will help things go smoother later on in the writing process.

Step 3: Creating a Thesis Statement

Step 4: Outlining/Choosing an Organizational Style

Step 5: Writing a First Draft

Step 6: Editing and Revising

Step 7: Preparing Your Final Draft