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Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay | Tips & Examples

Published on August 6, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

Comparing and contrasting is an important skill in academic writing . It involves taking two or more subjects and analyzing the differences and similarities between them.

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Table of contents

When should i compare and contrast, making effective comparisons, comparing and contrasting as a brainstorming tool, structuring your comparisons, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about comparing and contrasting.

Many assignments will invite you to make comparisons quite explicitly, as in these prompts.

  • Compare the treatment of the theme of beauty in the poetry of William Wordsworth and John Keats.
  • Compare and contrast in-class and distance learning. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

Some other prompts may not directly ask you to compare and contrast, but present you with a topic where comparing and contrasting could be a good approach.

One way to approach this essay might be to contrast the situation before the Great Depression with the situation during it, to highlight how large a difference it made.

Comparing and contrasting is also used in all kinds of academic contexts where it’s not explicitly prompted. For example, a literature review involves comparing and contrasting different studies on your topic, and an argumentative essay may involve weighing up the pros and cons of different arguments.

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As the name suggests, comparing and contrasting is about identifying both similarities and differences. You might focus on contrasting quite different subjects or comparing subjects with a lot in common—but there must be some grounds for comparison in the first place.

For example, you might contrast French society before and after the French Revolution; you’d likely find many differences, but there would be a valid basis for comparison. However, if you contrasted pre-revolutionary France with Han-dynasty China, your reader might wonder why you chose to compare these two societies.

This is why it’s important to clarify the point of your comparisons by writing a focused thesis statement . Every element of an essay should serve your central argument in some way. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with any comparisons you make, and be sure to make this clear to the reader.

Comparing and contrasting can be a useful tool to help organize your thoughts before you begin writing any type of academic text. You might use it to compare different theories and approaches you’ve encountered in your preliminary research, for example.

Let’s say your research involves the competing psychological approaches of behaviorism and cognitive psychology. You might make a table to summarize the key differences between them.

Or say you’re writing about the major global conflicts of the twentieth century. You might visualize the key similarities and differences in a Venn diagram.

A Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences between World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

These visualizations wouldn’t make it into your actual writing, so they don’t have to be very formal in terms of phrasing or presentation. The point of comparing and contrasting at this stage is to help you organize and shape your ideas to aid you in structuring your arguments.

When comparing and contrasting in an essay, there are two main ways to structure your comparisons: the alternating method and the block method.

The alternating method

In the alternating method, you structure your text according to what aspect you’re comparing. You cover both your subjects side by side in terms of a specific point of comparison. Your text is structured like this:

Mouse over the example paragraph below to see how this approach works.

One challenge teachers face is identifying and assisting students who are struggling without disrupting the rest of the class. In a traditional classroom environment, the teacher can easily identify when a student is struggling based on their demeanor in class or simply by regularly checking on students during exercises. They can then offer assistance quietly during the exercise or discuss it further after class. Meanwhile, in a Zoom-based class, the lack of physical presence makes it more difficult to pay attention to individual students’ responses and notice frustrations, and there is less flexibility to speak with students privately to offer assistance. In this case, therefore, the traditional classroom environment holds the advantage, although it appears likely that aiding students in a virtual classroom environment will become easier as the technology, and teachers’ familiarity with it, improves.

The block method

In the block method, you cover each of the overall subjects you’re comparing in a block. You say everything you have to say about your first subject, then discuss your second subject, making comparisons and contrasts back to the things you’ve already said about the first. Your text is structured like this:

  • Point of comparison A
  • Point of comparison B

The most commonly cited advantage of distance learning is the flexibility and accessibility it offers. Rather than being required to travel to a specific location every week (and to live near enough to feasibly do so), students can participate from anywhere with an internet connection. This allows not only for a wider geographical spread of students but for the possibility of studying while travelling. However, distance learning presents its own accessibility challenges; not all students have a stable internet connection and a computer or other device with which to participate in online classes, and less technologically literate students and teachers may struggle with the technical aspects of class participation. Furthermore, discomfort and distractions can hinder an individual student’s ability to engage with the class from home, creating divergent learning experiences for different students. Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

Note that these two methods can be combined; these two example paragraphs could both be part of the same essay, but it’s wise to use an essay outline to plan out which approach you’re taking in each paragraph.

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Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Comparing and Contrasting

What this handout is about.

This handout will help you first to determine whether a particular assignment is asking for comparison/contrast and then to generate a list of similarities and differences, decide which similarities and differences to focus on, and organize your paper so that it will be clear and effective. It will also explain how you can (and why you should) develop a thesis that goes beyond “Thing A and Thing B are similar in many ways but different in others.”

Introduction

In your career as a student, you’ll encounter many different kinds of writing assignments, each with its own requirements. One of the most common is the comparison/contrast essay, in which you focus on the ways in which certain things or ideas—usually two of them—are similar to (this is the comparison) and/or different from (this is the contrast) one another. By assigning such essays, your instructors are encouraging you to make connections between texts or ideas, engage in critical thinking, and go beyond mere description or summary to generate interesting analysis: when you reflect on similarities and differences, you gain a deeper understanding of the items you are comparing, their relationship to each other, and what is most important about them.

Recognizing comparison/contrast in assignments

Some assignments use words—like compare, contrast, similarities, and differences—that make it easy for you to see that they are asking you to compare and/or contrast. Here are a few hypothetical examples:

  • Compare and contrast Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression.
  • Compare WWI to WWII, identifying similarities in the causes, development, and outcomes of the wars.
  • Contrast Wordsworth and Coleridge; what are the major differences in their poetry?

Notice that some topics ask only for comparison, others only for contrast, and others for both.

But it’s not always so easy to tell whether an assignment is asking you to include comparison/contrast. And in some cases, comparison/contrast is only part of the essay—you begin by comparing and/or contrasting two or more things and then use what you’ve learned to construct an argument or evaluation. Consider these examples, noticing the language that is used to ask for the comparison/contrast and whether the comparison/contrast is only one part of a larger assignment:

  • Choose a particular idea or theme, such as romantic love, death, or nature, and consider how it is treated in two Romantic poems.
  • How do the different authors we have studied so far define and describe oppression?
  • Compare Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression. What does each imply about women’s collusion in their own oppression? Which is more accurate?
  • In the texts we’ve studied, soldiers who served in different wars offer differing accounts of their experiences and feelings both during and after the fighting. What commonalities are there in these accounts? What factors do you think are responsible for their differences?

You may want to check out our handout on understanding assignments for additional tips.

Using comparison/contrast for all kinds of writing projects

Sometimes you may want to use comparison/contrast techniques in your own pre-writing work to get ideas that you can later use for an argument, even if comparison/contrast isn’t an official requirement for the paper you’re writing. For example, if you wanted to argue that Frye’s account of oppression is better than both de Beauvoir’s and Bartky’s, comparing and contrasting the main arguments of those three authors might help you construct your evaluation—even though the topic may not have asked for comparison/contrast and the lists of similarities and differences you generate may not appear anywhere in the final draft of your paper.

Discovering similarities and differences

Making a Venn diagram or a chart can help you quickly and efficiently compare and contrast two or more things or ideas. To make a Venn diagram, simply draw some overlapping circles, one circle for each item you’re considering. In the central area where they overlap, list the traits the two items have in common. Assign each one of the areas that doesn’t overlap; in those areas, you can list the traits that make the things different. Here’s a very simple example, using two pizza places:

Venn diagram indicating that both Pepper's and Amante serve pizza with unusual ingredients at moderate prices, despite differences in location, wait times, and delivery options

To make a chart, figure out what criteria you want to focus on in comparing the items. Along the left side of the page, list each of the criteria. Across the top, list the names of the items. You should then have a box per item for each criterion; you can fill the boxes in and then survey what you’ve discovered.

As you generate points of comparison, consider the purpose and content of the assignment and the focus of the class. What do you think the professor wants you to learn by doing this comparison/contrast? How does it fit with what you have been studying so far and with the other assignments in the course? Are there any clues about what to focus on in the assignment itself?

Here are some general questions about different types of things you might have to compare. These are by no means complete or definitive lists; they’re just here to give you some ideas—you can generate your own questions for these and other types of comparison. You may want to begin by using the questions reporters traditionally ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? If you’re talking about objects, you might also consider general properties like size, shape, color, sound, weight, taste, texture, smell, number, duration, and location.

Two historical periods or events

  • When did they occur—do you know the date(s) and duration? What happened or changed during each? Why are they significant?
  • What kinds of work did people do? What kinds of relationships did they have? What did they value?
  • What kinds of governments were there? Who were important people involved?
  • What caused events in these periods, and what consequences did they have later on?

Two ideas or theories

  • What are they about?
  • Did they originate at some particular time?
  • Who created them? Who uses or defends them?
  • What is the central focus, claim, or goal of each? What conclusions do they offer?
  • How are they applied to situations/people/things/etc.?
  • Which seems more plausible to you, and why? How broad is their scope?
  • What kind of evidence is usually offered for them?

Two pieces of writing or art

  • What are their titles? What do they describe or depict?
  • What is their tone or mood? What is their form?
  • Who created them? When were they created? Why do you think they were created as they were? What themes do they address?
  • Do you think one is of higher quality or greater merit than the other(s)—and if so, why?
  • For writing: what plot, characterization, setting, theme, tone, and type of narration are used?
  • Where are they from? How old are they? What is the gender, race, class, etc. of each?
  • What, if anything, are they known for? Do they have any relationship to each other?
  • What are they like? What did/do they do? What do they believe? Why are they interesting?
  • What stands out most about each of them?

Deciding what to focus on

By now you have probably generated a huge list of similarities and differences—congratulations! Next you must decide which of them are interesting, important, and relevant enough to be included in your paper. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s relevant to the assignment?
  • What’s relevant to the course?
  • What’s interesting and informative?
  • What matters to the argument you are going to make?
  • What’s basic or central (and needs to be mentioned even if obvious)?
  • Overall, what’s more important—the similarities or the differences?

Suppose that you are writing a paper comparing two novels. For most literature classes, the fact that they both use Caslon type (a kind of typeface, like the fonts you may use in your writing) is not going to be relevant, nor is the fact that one of them has a few illustrations and the other has none; literature classes are more likely to focus on subjects like characterization, plot, setting, the writer’s style and intentions, language, central themes, and so forth. However, if you were writing a paper for a class on typesetting or on how illustrations are used to enhance novels, the typeface and presence or absence of illustrations might be absolutely critical to include in your final paper.

Sometimes a particular point of comparison or contrast might be relevant but not terribly revealing or interesting. For example, if you are writing a paper about Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” and Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight,” pointing out that they both have nature as a central theme is relevant (comparisons of poetry often talk about themes) but not terribly interesting; your class has probably already had many discussions about the Romantic poets’ fondness for nature. Talking about the different ways nature is depicted or the different aspects of nature that are emphasized might be more interesting and show a more sophisticated understanding of the poems.

Your thesis

The thesis of your comparison/contrast paper is very important: it can help you create a focused argument and give your reader a road map so she/he doesn’t get lost in the sea of points you are about to make. As in any paper, you will want to replace vague reports of your general topic (for example, “This paper will compare and contrast two pizza places,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in some ways and different in others,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in many ways, but they have one major difference”) with something more detailed and specific. For example, you might say, “Pepper’s and Amante have similar prices and ingredients, but their atmospheres and willingness to deliver set them apart.”

Be careful, though—although this thesis is fairly specific and does propose a simple argument (that atmosphere and delivery make the two pizza places different), your instructor will often be looking for a bit more analysis. In this case, the obvious question is “So what? Why should anyone care that Pepper’s and Amante are different in this way?” One might also wonder why the writer chose those two particular pizza places to compare—why not Papa John’s, Dominos, or Pizza Hut? Again, thinking about the context the class provides may help you answer such questions and make a stronger argument. Here’s a revision of the thesis mentioned earlier:

Pepper’s and Amante both offer a greater variety of ingredients than other Chapel Hill/Carrboro pizza places (and than any of the national chains), but the funky, lively atmosphere at Pepper’s makes it a better place to give visiting friends and family a taste of local culture.

You may find our handout on constructing thesis statements useful at this stage.

Organizing your paper

There are many different ways to organize a comparison/contrast essay. Here are two:

Subject-by-subject

Begin by saying everything you have to say about the first subject you are discussing, then move on and make all the points you want to make about the second subject (and after that, the third, and so on, if you’re comparing/contrasting more than two things). If the paper is short, you might be able to fit all of your points about each item into a single paragraph, but it’s more likely that you’d have several paragraphs per item. Using our pizza place comparison/contrast as an example, after the introduction, you might have a paragraph about the ingredients available at Pepper’s, a paragraph about its location, and a paragraph about its ambience. Then you’d have three similar paragraphs about Amante, followed by your conclusion.

The danger of this subject-by-subject organization is that your paper will simply be a list of points: a certain number of points (in my example, three) about one subject, then a certain number of points about another. This is usually not what college instructors are looking for in a paper—generally they want you to compare or contrast two or more things very directly, rather than just listing the traits the things have and leaving it up to the reader to reflect on how those traits are similar or different and why those similarities or differences matter. Thus, if you use the subject-by-subject form, you will probably want to have a very strong, analytical thesis and at least one body paragraph that ties all of your different points together.

A subject-by-subject structure can be a logical choice if you are writing what is sometimes called a “lens” comparison, in which you use one subject or item (which isn’t really your main topic) to better understand another item (which is). For example, you might be asked to compare a poem you’ve already covered thoroughly in class with one you are reading on your own. It might make sense to give a brief summary of your main ideas about the first poem (this would be your first subject, the “lens”), and then spend most of your paper discussing how those points are similar to or different from your ideas about the second.

Point-by-point

Rather than addressing things one subject at a time, you may wish to talk about one point of comparison at a time. There are two main ways this might play out, depending on how much you have to say about each of the things you are comparing. If you have just a little, you might, in a single paragraph, discuss how a certain point of comparison/contrast relates to all the items you are discussing. For example, I might describe, in one paragraph, what the prices are like at both Pepper’s and Amante; in the next paragraph, I might compare the ingredients available; in a third, I might contrast the atmospheres of the two restaurants.

If I had a bit more to say about the items I was comparing/contrasting, I might devote a whole paragraph to how each point relates to each item. For example, I might have a whole paragraph about the clientele at Pepper’s, followed by a whole paragraph about the clientele at Amante; then I would move on and do two more paragraphs discussing my next point of comparison/contrast—like the ingredients available at each restaurant.

There are no hard and fast rules about organizing a comparison/contrast paper, of course. Just be sure that your reader can easily tell what’s going on! Be aware, too, of the placement of your different points. If you are writing a comparison/contrast in service of an argument, keep in mind that the last point you make is the one you are leaving your reader with. For example, if I am trying to argue that Amante is better than Pepper’s, I should end with a contrast that leaves Amante sounding good, rather than with a point of comparison that I have to admit makes Pepper’s look better. If you’ve decided that the differences between the items you’re comparing/contrasting are most important, you’ll want to end with the differences—and vice versa, if the similarities seem most important to you.

Our handout on organization can help you write good topic sentences and transitions and make sure that you have a good overall structure in place for your paper.

Cue words and other tips

To help your reader keep track of where you are in the comparison/contrast, you’ll want to be sure that your transitions and topic sentences are especially strong. Your thesis should already have given the reader an idea of the points you’ll be making and the organization you’ll be using, but you can help her/him out with some extra cues. The following words may be helpful to you in signaling your intentions:

  • like, similar to, also, unlike, similarly, in the same way, likewise, again, compared to, in contrast, in like manner, contrasted with, on the contrary, however, although, yet, even though, still, but, nevertheless, conversely, at the same time, regardless, despite, while, on the one hand … on the other hand.

For example, you might have a topic sentence like one of these:

  • Compared to Pepper’s, Amante is quiet.
  • Like Amante, Pepper’s offers fresh garlic as a topping.
  • Despite their different locations (downtown Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro), Pepper’s and Amante are both fairly easy to get to.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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The Comparative Essay

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What is a comparative essay?

A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare

  • positions on an issue (e.g., responses to midwifery in Canada and the United States)
  • theories (e.g., capitalism and communism)
  • figures (e.g., GDP in the United States and Britain)
  • texts (e.g., Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth )
  • events (e.g., the Great Depression and the global financial crisis of 2008–9)

Although the assignment may say “compare,” the assumption is that you will consider both the similarities and differences; in other words, you will compare and contrast.

Make sure you know the basis for comparison

The assignment sheet may say exactly what you need to compare, or it may ask you to come up with a basis for comparison yourself.

  • Provided by the essay question: The essay question may ask that you consider the figure of the gentleman in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall . The basis for comparison will be the figure of the gentleman.
  • Developed by you: The question may simply ask that you compare the two novels. If so, you will need to develop a basis for comparison, that is, a theme, concern, or device common to both works from which you can draw similarities and differences.

Develop a list of similarities and differences

Once you know your basis for comparison, think critically about the similarities and differences between the items you are comparing, and compile a list of them.

For example, you might decide that in Great Expectations , being a true gentleman is not a matter of manners or position but morality, whereas in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall , being a true gentleman is not about luxury and self-indulgence but hard work and productivity.

The list you have generated is not yet your outline for the essay, but it should provide you with enough similarities and differences to construct an initial plan.

Develop a thesis based on the relative weight of similarities and differences

Once you have listed similarities and differences, decide whether the similarities on the whole outweigh the differences or vice versa. Create a thesis statement that reflects their relative weights. A more complex thesis will usually include both similarities and differences. Here are examples of the two main cases:

While Callaghan’s “All the Years of Her Life” and Mistry’s “Of White Hairs and Cricket” both follow the conventions of the coming-of-age narrative, Callaghan’s story adheres more closely to these conventions by allowing its central protagonist to mature. In Mistry’s story, by contrast, no real growth occurs.
Although Darwin and Lamarck came to different conclusions about whether acquired traits can be inherited, they shared the key distinction of recognizing that species evolve over time.

Come up with a structure for your essay

Note that the French and Russian revolutions (A and B) may be dissimilar rather than similar in the way they affected innovation in any of the three areas of technology, military strategy, and administration. To use the alternating method, you just need to have something noteworthy to say about both A and B in each area. Finally, you may certainly include more than three pairs of alternating points: allow the subject matter to determine the number of points you choose to develop in the body of your essay.

When do I use the block method? The block method is particularly useful in the following cases:

  • You are unable to find points about A and B that are closely related to each other.
  • Your ideas about B build upon or extend your ideas about A.
  • You are comparing three or more subjects as opposed to the traditional two.

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OASIS: Writing Center

Writing a paper: comparing & contrasting.

A compare and contrast paper discusses the similarities and differences between two or more topics. The paper should contain an introduction with a thesis statement, a body where the comparisons and contrasts are discussed, and a conclusion.

Address Both Similarities and Differences

Because this is a compare and contrast paper, both the similarities and differences should be discussed. This will require analysis on your part, as some topics will appear to be quite similar, and you will have to work to find the differing elements.

Make Sure You Have a Clear Thesis Statement

Just like any other essay, a compare and contrast essay needs a thesis statement. The thesis statement should not only tell your reader what you will do, but it should also address the purpose and importance of comparing and contrasting the material.

Use Clear Transitions

Transitions are important in compare and contrast essays, where you will be moving frequently between different topics or perspectives.

  • Examples of transitions and phrases for comparisons: as well, similar to, consistent with, likewise, too
  • Examples of transitions and phrases for contrasts: on the other hand, however, although, differs, conversely, rather than.

For more information, check out our transitions page.

Structure Your Paper

Consider how you will present the information. You could present all of the similarities first and then present all of the differences. Or you could go point by point and show the similarity and difference of one point, then the similarity and difference for another point, and so on.

Include Analysis

It is tempting to just provide summary for this type of paper, but analysis will show the importance of the comparisons and contrasts. For instance, if you are comparing two articles on the topic of the nursing shortage, help us understand what this will achieve. Did you find consensus between the articles that will support a certain action step for people in the field? Did you find discrepancies between the two that point to the need for further investigation?

Make Analogous Comparisons

When drawing comparisons or making contrasts, be sure you are dealing with similar aspects of each item. To use an old cliché, are you comparing apples to apples?

  • Example of poor comparisons: Kubista studied the effects of a later start time on high school students, but Cook used a mixed methods approach. (This example does not compare similar items. It is not a clear contrast because the sentence does not discuss the same element of the articles. It is like comparing apples to oranges.)
  • Example of analogous comparisons: Cook used a mixed methods approach, whereas Kubista used only quantitative methods. (Here, methods are clearly being compared, allowing the reader to understand the distinction.

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Comparative Essays

Writing a comparison usually requires that you assess the similarities and differences between two or more theories, procedures, or processes. You explain to your reader what insights can be gained from the comparison, or judge whether one thing is better than another according to established criteria.  

How to Write a Comparative Essay  

Establish a basis of comparison .

A basis of comparison represents the main idea, category, or theme you will investigate. You will have to do some preliminary reading, likely using your course materials, to get an idea of what kind of criteria you will use to assess whatever you are comparing. A basis of comparison must apply to all items you are comparing, but the details will be different. 

For example, if you are asked to “compare neoclassical architecture and gothic architecture,” you could compare the influence of social context on the two styles.  

Gather the details of whatever you are comparing 

Once you have decided what theme or idea you are investigating, you will need to gather details of whatever you are comparing, especially in terms of similarities and differences. Doing so allows you to see which criteria you should use in your comparison, if not specified by your professor or instructor. 

Picture1

Based on this information, you could focus on how ornamentation and design principles reveal prevailing intellectual thought about architecture in the respective eras and societies. 

Develop a thesis statement 

After brainstorming, try to develop a thesis statement that identifies the results of your comparison. Here is an example of a fairly common thesis statement structure: 

e.g., Although neoclassical architecture and gothic architecture have [similar characteristics 

A and B], they reveal profound differences in their interpretation of [C, D, and E]. 

Organize your comparison  

You have a choice of two basic methods for organizing a comparative essay: the point-by-point method or the block method.  

The point-by-point method examines one aspect of comparison in each paragraph and usually alternates back and forth between the two objects, texts, or ideas being compared. This method allows you to emphasize points of similarity and of difference as you proceed. 

In the block method, however, you say everything you need to say about one thing, then do the same thing with the other. This method works best if you want readers to understand and agree with the advantages of something you are proposing, such as introducing a new process or theory by showing how it compares to something more traditional.

Sample Outlines for Comparative Essays on Neoclassical and Gothic Architecture 

Building a point-by-point essay .

Using the point-by-point method in a comparative essay allows you to draw direct comparisons and produce a more tightly integrated essay. 

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Building a Block Method Essay 

Using the block method in a comparative essay can help ensure that the ideas in the second block build upon or extend ideas presented in the first block. It works well if you have three or more major areas of comparison instead of two (for example, if you added in a third or fourth style of architecture, the block method would be easier to organize).

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4.1: Introduction to Comparison and Contrast Essay

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The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. Comparison and contrast is simply telling how two things are alike or different. The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both. The thesis should focus on comparing, contrasting, or both.

Key Elements of the Compare and Contrast:

  • A compare-and-contrast essay analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both.
  • The purpose of writing a comparison or contrast essay is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two subjects.
  • The thesis should clearly state the subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and it should state what is to be learned from doing so.
  • Organize by the subjects themselves, one then the other.
  • Organize by individual points, in which you discuss each subject in relation to each point.
  • Use phrases of comparison or phrases of contrast to signal to readers how exactly the two subjects are being analyzed.

Objectives: By the end of this unit, you will be able to

  • Identify compare & contrast relationships in model essays
  • Construct clearly formulated thesis statements that show compare & contrast relationships
  • Use pre-writing techniques to brainstorm and organize ideas showing a comparison and/or contrast
  • Construct an outline for a five-paragraph compare & contrast essay
  • Write a five-paragraph compare & contrast essay
  • Use a variety of vocabulary and language structures that express compare & contrast essay relationships

Example Thesis: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Graphic Showing Organization for Comparison Contrast Essay

Sample Paragraph:

Organic grown tomatoes purchased at the farmers’ market are very different from tomatoes that are grown conventionally. To begin with, although tomatoes from both sources will mostly be red, the tomatoes at the farmers’ market are a brighter red than those at a grocery store. That doesn’t mean they are shinier—in fact, grocery store tomatoes are often shinier since they have been waxed. You are likely to see great size variation in tomatoes at the farmers’ market, with tomatoes ranging from only a couple of inches across to eight inches across. By contrast, the tomatoes in a grocery store will be fairly uniform in size. All the visual differences are interesting, but the most important difference is the taste. The farmers’ market tomatoes will be bursting with flavor from ripening on the vine in their own time. However, the grocery store tomatoes are often close to being flavorless. In conclusion, the differences in organic and conventionally grown tomatoes are obvious in color, size and taste.

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8 Step-By-Step Guide On How To Write A Comparison Essay

Writing a comparison essay is a difficult task for many students because it requires a lot of effort and plan. Students have to write in-depth details about the topic they are comparing. 

A comparison essay is a type of academic writing in which students analyze the differences and similarities between two topics. The introduction is the first step in writing a comparison essay. 

Weather they are comparing historical events, literature, a well-written comparison essay will provide insights into the relationships between the topics or concepts they are analyzing. 

It should grab the reader’s attention, provide background information on the topic, and present a thesis statement that clearly states what you will be comparing and contrasting.

But many students are not able to write a comparison essay because they don’t know how to write. That’s why we have created this blog to provide best steps on how to write a comparison essay.

If you want to compare two topics effectively, then you have to follow the right steps. Here we have provide the best steps that will help you with this. So let’s get started. 

What Is Comparison Essay?

Table of Contents

A comparison essay (also known as a Compare and Contrast essay) is a typical writing assignment in high school and college classrooms ranging from art to science. You should critically study any two subjects in a comparison essay, locating and pointing out their parallels and differences.

Such essays might be comparative only (looking at similarities), contrasting only (calling out contrasts), or both comparative and contrasting, depending on your assignment.

What Makes A Good Comparison Essay Topic?

Many students don’t know how to write a comparison essay. What you exactly write in your paper can decide the success or failure of your essay. Like any other academic work, a good comparison and contrast essay will have a purpose that offers value. Consider subjects that are relevant to the field of study. Effective comparison and contrast subjects should expand the scope of knowledge or provide evidence for valid statements that have yet to be proven. The following are a few examples of possible topics:

  • Economics : Fiscal vs. Monetary Policy – An study of the Great Depression and the Stagflation Era
  • Political Science: Barack Obama vs. George W. Bush: Inspiring orator vs. modest disposition
  • Literature: Faulkner and Hemingway: A Prose Paradox
  • Philosophy: Utilitarianism and Existentialism
  • Law: When it comes to property, Common Law vs. Statute Law

When you start college, you may be assigned to create a decent application comparison essay in addition to these academic areas. These subjects could be lighter, such as comparing your youth to your adolescent years or contrasting two close friends.

Comparison Essay Structure

One of the most critical aspects of success is to think about the structure of your essay. The only way to properly outline and compose an essay, paragraph by paragraph, from beginning to end, without errors, is to follow a recommended essay structure.

There are 2 recommended patterns for a comparison essay: the point-by-point (“alternating”) pattern and the subject-by-subject (or “block”) pattern.

Alternating Pattern

“Point-by-point comparison” is another name for the alternating pattern. Your essay will have five paragraphs if you use this style of comparison. 

You’ll have to compare and contrast each of the similarities and differences in the following subjects to complete it:

  • Your thesis is stated in the introduction.
  • Then, for each point of comparison and contrast, you explain both of your topics together.
  • You repeat the thesis and briefly summarise your essay in conclusion.

Block Pattern

“Subject-by-subject comparison” is another name for the block pattern. The body of your compare and contrast essay will be divided into two parts according to this structure.

The first half of the body will be devoted to the first subject, while the second half will be focused on the second:

  • You start with the first topic.
  • Then you move on to the second topic.

How To Write a comparison essay and Compare Essay?

Here we will tell you how to write a comparison essay. A proper essay outline and organizational framework are required for comparing and contrasting essays.

When writing a decent compare and contrast essay, keep the following ideas in mind.

Selecting the Objects

The selection of the objects to compare is the first stage, and they should be distinct but belong to the same category. Instead of reaching an artist to a politician, a writer could compare two separate artists. This is the first step on how to write a comparison essay.

Identify the Differences and Similarities  

In the second phase, a writer must pinpoint the Differences and Similarities. This approach is generally aided by drawing a Venn diagram with two overlapping circles, and it helps with the organization of data. This is the second step on how to write a comparison essay.

Create a Thesis Statement

The goal of this essay is to use similarities and contrasts to create a thesis statement. The thesis statement aids in the development of a focused argument and the creation of a road map for the reader. Determine what your essay will say about the topics. This is the third step on how to write a comparison essay.

Select an Appropriate Organizational Structure

It’s critical to pick a framework that makes sense for your core point. Choose one of the appropriate structures from the list above and write your essay appropriately. By following a strict format, the entire essay will remain on track. This is the fourth step on how to write a comparison essay.

Craft an Outline

Create an outline for your essay based on your organizational structure. An article typically includes an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. If you have a lot of information to cover, you can always increase body paragraphs.

You can explore the similarities and contrasts in a single paragraph if you use a point-by-point structure. If you use the block structure format, each subject gets its paragraph. This is the fifth step on how to write a comparison essay.

Provide evidence to back up your thesis statement

Support your argument with extra evidence. Evidence can be gathered by extensive research, reading, or firsthand observation. When comparing two types of cats, for example, it is acceptable to utilize personal thoughts. In this approach, your argument will make a great impression on the reader’s mind. This is the sixth step on how to write a comparison essay.

Use Strong Transition Words

To ensure a smooth transition from one statement to the following, powerful transitional words should be used. When comparing, use words like both, likewise, and similarly.  This is the seventh step on how to write a comparison essay.

Proofread Carefully

Do not read your article right after you finish it. Proofread for at least an hour or a day. It helps in the detection of more grammatical and spelling errors.

You can also use an online spell-check tool to help you. Additionally, have someone else read your article and point out any flaws. This is the eighth step on how to write a comparison essay.

How to Begin a Comparison Essay

In a comparison essay, you should assess two subjects and bring out their similarities so that the reader may create an informed opinion about them.

The manner you begin a comparison essay has a significant impact on your readers. It is critical to remember that the nature of your introduction impacts whether or not your readers will become interested in your article or abandon it.

As a result, here’s a rundown of some of the techniques you might use to grab your audience’s interest.

  • Give your readers a brief history of your issue to assist them in grasping it.
  • Begin with a narrative to attract the reader to learn more about your topic.
  • Make a terrific remark, either happy or shocking.
  • Use statistics to show the scope of the problem.

Comparison Essay Outline Example

An outline is helpful for organizing your thoughts and ideas before you begin writing your comparison essay. Here is an example of an outline for a comparison essay:

Introduction

  • Background information on the topic
  • Brief overview of the items or concepts to be compared and contrasted
  • Thesis statement that clearly states what will be compared and contrasted

Body Paragraphs

  • Compare and contrast point 1
  • Evidence and examples for topic or concept 1
  • Evidence and examples for topic or concept 2
  • Analysis of how point 1 relates to the overall comparison and contrast
  • Compare and contrast point 2
  • Analysis of how point 2 relates to the overall comparison and contrast
  • Compare and contrast point 3
  • Analysis of how point 3 relates to the overall comparison and contrast
  • Summary of main points
  • Restatement of thesis
  • Final thoughts and insights on the comparison and contrast

This is a basic outline example and you can modify it according to your requirements and the specific demands of the essay. The important thing is to have a clear structure that allows you to present your comparison and contrast points in a logical and organized way.

In this blog, you have learned about how to write a comparison essay. I hope you have understood how to write a comparison essay easily. A comparison and contrast essay is critical for assisting readers in making educated selections when deciding between two objects or situations. To determine what to choose, a reader must first read the article, consider its various elements, and then settle in favor of one. Contact us for Top Quality Essay Writing Help if you don’t know how to write a comparison essay and contrast essay. how to write a comparison essay

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

In compare and contrast essays, what are the most regularly utilized transition words.

The following are the most typical compare and contrast essay transition words: In the same way In like manner Likewise Similarly By the same token

What does a compare and contrast essay serve?

The main goal of a compare and contrast essay is to show how two items are alike and dissimilar, and they also necessitate the application of critical thinking skills. A good comparison essay can teach readers about current events, political candidates, vacation places, and items.

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How to Write a Critical Essay

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Olivia Valdes was the Associate Editorial Director for ThoughtCo. She worked with Dotdash Meredith from 2017 to 2021.

how to write a critical comparison essay

  • B.A., American Studies, Yale University

A critical essay is a form of academic writing that analyzes, interprets, and/or evaluates a text. In a critical essay, an author makes a claim about how particular ideas or themes are conveyed in a text, then supports that claim with evidence from primary and/or secondary sources.

In casual conversation, we often associate the word "critical" with a negative perspective. However, in the context of a critical essay, the word "critical" simply means discerning and analytical. Critical essays analyze and evaluate the meaning and significance of a text, rather than making a judgment about its content or quality.

What Makes an Essay "Critical"? 

Imagine you've just watched the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." If you were chatting with friends in the movie theater lobby, you might say something like, "Charlie was so lucky to find a Golden Ticket. That ticket changed his life." A friend might reply, "Yeah, but Willy Wonka shouldn't have let those raucous kids into his chocolate factory in the first place. They caused a big mess."

These comments make for an enjoyable conversation, but they do not belong in a critical essay. Why? Because they respond to (and pass judgment on) the raw content of the movie, rather than analyzing its themes or how the director conveyed those themes.

On the other hand, a critical essay about "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" might take the following topic as its thesis: "In 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,' director Mel Stuart intertwines money and morality through his depiction of children: the angelic appearance of Charlie Bucket, a good-hearted boy of modest means, is sharply contrasted against the physically grotesque portrayal of the wealthy, and thus immoral, children."

This thesis includes a claim about the themes of the film, what the director seems to be saying about those themes, and what techniques the director employs in order to communicate his message. In addition, this thesis is both supportable  and  disputable using evidence from the film itself, which means it's a strong central argument for a critical essay .

Characteristics of a Critical Essay

Critical essays are written across many academic disciplines and can have wide-ranging textual subjects: films, novels, poetry, video games, visual art, and more. However, despite their diverse subject matter, all critical essays share the following characteristics.

  • Central claim . All critical essays contain a central claim about the text. This argument is typically expressed at the beginning of the essay in a thesis statement , then supported with evidence in each body paragraph. Some critical essays bolster their argument even further by including potential counterarguments, then using evidence to dispute them.
  • Evidence . The central claim of a critical essay must be supported by evidence. In many critical essays, most of the evidence comes in the form of textual support: particular details from the text (dialogue, descriptions, word choice, structure, imagery, et cetera) that bolster the argument. Critical essays may also include evidence from secondary sources, often scholarly works that support or strengthen the main argument.
  • Conclusion . After making a claim and supporting it with evidence, critical essays offer a succinct conclusion. The conclusion summarizes the trajectory of the essay's argument and emphasizes the essays' most important insights.

Tips for Writing a Critical Essay

Writing a critical essay requires rigorous analysis and a meticulous argument-building process. If you're struggling with a critical essay assignment, these tips will help you get started.

  • Practice active reading strategies . These strategies for staying focused and retaining information will help you identify specific details in the text that will serve as evidence for your main argument. Active reading is an essential skill, especially if you're writing a critical essay for a literature class.
  • Read example essays . If you're unfamiliar with critical essays as a form, writing one is going to be extremely challenging. Before you dive into the writing process, read a variety of published critical essays, paying careful attention to their structure and writing style. (As always, remember that paraphrasing an author's ideas without proper attribution is a form of plagiarism .)
  • Resist the urge to summarize . Critical essays should consist of your own analysis and interpretation of a text, not a summary of the text in general. If you find yourself writing lengthy plot or character descriptions, pause and consider whether these summaries are in the service of your main argument or whether they are simply taking up space.
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how to write a critical comparison essay

What Is a Critical Analysis Essay: Definition

how to write a critical comparison essay

Have you ever had to read a book or watch a movie for school and then write an essay about it? Well, a critical analysis essay is a type of essay where you do just that! So, when wondering what is a critical analysis essay, know that it's a fancy way of saying that you're going to take a closer look at something and analyze it.

So, let's say you're assigned to read a novel for your literature class. A critical analysis essay would require you to examine the characters, plot, themes, and writing style of the book. You would need to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses and provide your own thoughts and opinions on the text.

Similarly, if you're tasked with writing a critical analysis essay on a scientific article, you would need to analyze the methodology, results, and conclusions presented in the article and evaluate its significance and potential impact on the field.

The key to a successful critical analysis essay is to approach the subject matter with an open mind and a willingness to engage with it on a deeper level. By doing so, you can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the subject matter and develop your own informed opinions and perspectives. Considering this, we bet you want to learn how to write critical analysis essay easily and efficiently, so keep on reading to find out more!

Meanwhile, if you'd rather have your own sample critical analysis essay crafted by professionals from our custom writings , contact us to buy essays online .

How to Write a Critical Analysis

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Critical Analysis Essay Topics by Category

If you're looking for an interesting and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, you've come to the right place! Critical analysis essays can cover many subjects and topics, with endless possibilities. To help you get started, we've compiled a list of critical analysis essay topics by category. We've got you covered whether you're interested in literature, science, social issues, or something else. So, grab a notebook and pen, and get ready to dive deep into your chosen topic. In the following sections, we will provide you with various good critical analysis paper topics to choose from, each with its unique angle and approach.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Mass Media

From television and radio to social media and advertising, mass media is everywhere, shaping our perceptions of the world around us. As a result, it's no surprise that critical analysis essays on mass media are a popular choice for students and scholars alike. To help you get started, here are ten critical essay example topics on mass media:

  • The Influence of Viral Memes on Pop Culture: An In-Depth Analysis.
  • The Portrayal of Mental Health in Television: Examining Stigmatization and Advocacy.
  • The Power of Satirical News Shows: Analyzing the Impact of Political Commentary.
  • Mass Media and Consumer Behavior: Investigating Advertising and Persuasion Techniques.
  • The Ethics of Deepfake Technology: Implications for Trust and Authenticity in Media.
  • Media Framing and Public Perception: A Critical Analysis of News Coverage.
  • The Role of Social Media in Shaping Political Discourse and Activism.
  • Fake News in the Digital Age: Identifying Disinformation and Its Effects.
  • The Representation of Gender and Diversity in Hollywood Films: A Critical Examination.
  • Media Ownership and Its Impact on Journalism and News Reporting: A Comprehensive Study.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Sports

Sports are a ubiquitous aspect of our culture, and they have the power to unite and inspire people from all walks of life. Whether you're an athlete, a fan, or just someone who appreciates the beauty of competition, there's no denying the significance of sports in our society. If you're looking for an engaging and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, sports offer a wealth of possibilities:

  • The Role of Sports in Diplomacy: Examining International Relations Through Athletic Events.
  • Sports and Identity: How Athletic Success Shapes National and Cultural Pride.
  • The Business of Sports: Analyzing the Economics and Commercialization of Athletics.
  • Athlete Activism: Exploring the Impact of Athletes' Social and Political Engagement.
  • Sports Fandom and Online Communities: The Impact of Social Media on Fan Engagement.
  • The Representation of Athletes in the Media: Gender, Race, and Stereotypes.
  • The Psychology of Sports: Exploring Mental Toughness, Motivation, and Peak Performance.
  • The Evolution of Sports Equipment and Technology: From Innovation to Regulation.
  • The Legacy of Sports Legends: Analyzing Their Impact Beyond Athletic Achievement.
  • Sports and Social Change: How Athletic Movements Shape Societal Attitudes and Policies.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Literature and Arts

Literature and arts can inspire, challenge, and transform our perceptions of the world around us. From classic novels to contemporary art, the realm of literature and arts offers many possibilities for critical analysis essays. Here are ten original critic essay example topics on literature and arts:

  • The Use of Symbolism in Contemporary Poetry: Analyzing Hidden Meanings and Significance.
  • The Intersection of Art and Identity: How Self-Expression Shapes Artists' Works.
  • The Role of Nonlinear Narrative in Postmodern Novels: Techniques and Interpretation.
  • The Influence of Jazz on African American Literature: A Comparative Study.
  • The Complexity of Visual Storytelling: Graphic Novels and Their Narrative Power.
  • The Art of Literary Translation: Challenges, Impact, and Interpretation.
  • The Evolution of Music Videos: From Promotional Tools to a Unique Art Form.
  • The Literary Techniques of Magical Realism: Exploring Reality and Fantasy.
  • The Impact of Visual Arts in Advertising: Analyzing the Connection Between Art and Commerce.
  • Art in Times of Crisis: How Artists Respond to Societal and Political Challenges.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Culture

Culture is a dynamic and multifaceted aspect of our society, encompassing everything from language and religion to art and music. As a result, there are countless possibilities for critical analysis essays on culture. Whether you're interested in exploring the complexities of globalization or delving into the nuances of cultural identity, there's a wealth of topics to choose from:

  • The Influence of K-Pop on Global Youth Culture: A Comparative Study.
  • Cultural Significance of Street Art in Urban Spaces: Beyond Vandalism.
  • The Role of Mythology in Shaping Indigenous Cultures and Belief Systems.
  • Nollywood: Analyzing the Cultural Impact of Nigerian Cinema on the African Diaspora.
  • The Language of Hip-Hop Lyrics: A Semiotic Analysis of Cultural Expression.
  • Digital Nomads and Cultural Adaptation: Examining the Subculture of Remote Work.
  • The Cultural Significance of Tattooing Among Indigenous Tribes in Oceania.
  • The Art of Culinary Fusion: Analyzing Cross-Cultural Food Trends and Innovation.
  • The Impact of Cultural Festivals on Local Identity and Economy.
  • The Influence of Internet Memes on Language and Cultural Evolution.

How to Write a Critical Analysis: Easy Steps

When wondering how to write a critical analysis essay, remember that it can be a challenging but rewarding process. Crafting a critical analysis example requires a careful and thoughtful examination of a text or artwork to assess its strengths and weaknesses and broader implications. The key to success is to approach the task in a systematic and organized manner, breaking it down into two distinct steps: critical reading and critical writing. Here are some tips for each step of the process to help you write a critical essay.

Step 1: Critical Reading

Here are some tips for critical reading that can help you with your critical analysis paper:

  • Read actively : Don't just read the text passively, but actively engage with it by highlighting or underlining important points, taking notes, and asking questions.
  • Identify the author's main argument: Figure out what the author is trying to say and what evidence they use to support their argument.
  • Evaluate the evidence: Determine whether the evidence is reliable, relevant, and sufficient to support the author's argument.
  • Analyze the author's tone and style: Consider the author's tone and style and how it affects the reader's interpretation of the text.
  • Identify assumptions: Identify any underlying assumptions the author makes and consider whether they are valid or questionable.
  • Consider alternative perspectives: Consider alternative perspectives or interpretations of the text and consider how they might affect the author's argument.
  • Assess the author's credibility : Evaluate the author's credibility by considering their expertise, biases, and motivations.
  • Consider the context: Consider the historical, social, cultural, and political context in which the text was written and how it affects its meaning.
  • Pay attention to language: Pay attention to the author's language, including metaphors, symbolism, and other literary devices.
  • Synthesize your analysis: Use your analysis of the text to develop a well-supported argument in your critical analysis essay.

Step 2: Critical Analysis Writing

Here are some tips for critical analysis writing, with examples:

How to Write a Critical Analysis

  • Start with a strong thesis statement: A strong critical analysis thesis is the foundation of any critical analysis essay. It should clearly state your argument or interpretation of the text. You can also consult us on how to write a thesis statement . Meanwhile, here is a clear example:
  • Weak thesis statement: 'The author of this article is wrong.'
  • Strong thesis statement: 'In this article, the author's argument fails to consider the socio-economic factors that contributed to the issue, rendering their analysis incomplete.'
  • Use evidence to support your argument: Use evidence from the text to support your thesis statement, and make sure to explain how the evidence supports your argument. For example:
  • Weak argument: 'The author of this article is biased.'
  • Strong argument: 'The author's use of emotional language and selective evidence suggests a bias towards one particular viewpoint, as they fail to consider counterarguments and present a balanced analysis.'
  • Analyze the evidence : Analyze the evidence you use by considering its relevance, reliability, and sufficiency. For example:
  • Weak analysis: 'The author mentions statistics in their argument.'
  • Strong analysis: 'The author uses statistics to support their argument, but it is important to note that these statistics are outdated and do not take into account recent developments in the field.'
  • Use quotes and paraphrases effectively: Use quotes and paraphrases to support your argument and properly cite your sources. For example:
  • Weak use of quotes: 'The author said, 'This is important.'
  • Strong use of quotes: 'As the author points out, 'This issue is of utmost importance in shaping our understanding of the problem' (p. 25).'
  • Use clear and concise language: Use clear and concise language to make your argument easy to understand, and avoid jargon or overly complicated language. For example:
  • Weak language: 'The author's rhetorical devices obfuscate the issue.'
  • Strong language: 'The author's use of rhetorical devices such as metaphor and hyperbole obscures the key issues at play.'
  • Address counterarguments: Address potential counterarguments to your argument and explain why your interpretation is more convincing. For example:
  • Weak argument: 'The author is wrong because they did not consider X.'
  • Strong argument: 'While the author's analysis is thorough, it overlooks the role of X in shaping the issue. However, by considering this factor, a more nuanced understanding of the problem emerges.'
  • Consider the audience: Consider your audience during your writing process. Your language and tone should be appropriate for your audience and should reflect the level of knowledge they have about the topic. For example:
  • Weak language: 'As any knowledgeable reader can see, the author's argument is flawed.'
  • Strong language: 'Through a critical analysis of the author's argument, it becomes clear that there are gaps in their analysis that require further consideration.'

Master the art of critical analysis with EssayPro . Our team is ready to guide you in dissecting texts, theories, or artworks with depth and sophistication. Let us help you deliver a critical analysis essay that showcases your analytical prowess.

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Creating a Detailed Critical Analysis Essay Outline

Creating a detailed outline is essential when writing a critical analysis essay. It helps you organize your thoughts and arguments, ensuring your essay flows logically and coherently. Here is a detailed critical analysis outline from our dissertation writers :

I. Introduction

A. Background information about the text and its author

B. Brief summary of the text

C. Thesis statement that clearly states your argument

II. Analysis of the Text

A. Overview of the text's main themes and ideas

B. Examination of the author's writing style and techniques

C. Analysis of the text's structure and organization

III. Evaluation of the Text

A. Evaluation of the author's argument and evidence

B. Analysis of the author's use of language and rhetorical strategies

C. Assessment of the text's effectiveness and relevance to the topic

IV. Discussion of the Context

A. Exploration of the historical, cultural, and social context of the text

B. Examination of the text's influence on its audience and society

C. Analysis of the text's significance and relevance to the present day

V. Counter Arguments and Responses

A. Identification of potential counterarguments to your argument

B. Refutation of counterarguments and defense of your position

C. Acknowledgement of the limitations and weaknesses of your argument

VI. Conclusion

A. Recap of your argument and main points

B. Evaluation of the text's significance and relevance

C. Final thoughts and recommendations for further research or analysis.

This outline can be adjusted to fit the specific requirements of your essay. Still, it should give you a solid foundation for creating a detailed and well-organized critical analysis essay.

Useful Techniques Used in Literary Criticism

There are several techniques used in literary criticism to analyze and evaluate a work of literature. Here are some of the most common techniques:

How to Write a Critical Analysis

  • Close reading: This technique involves carefully analyzing a text to identify its literary devices, themes, and meanings.
  • Historical and cultural context: This technique involves examining the historical and cultural context of a work of literature to understand the social, political, and cultural influences that shaped it.
  • Structural analysis: This technique involves analyzing the structure of a text, including its plot, characters, and narrative techniques, to identify patterns and themes.
  • Formalism: This technique focuses on the literary elements of a text, such as its language, imagery, and symbolism, to analyze its meaning and significance.
  • Psychological analysis: This technique examines the psychological and emotional aspects of a text, including the motivations and desires of its characters, to understand the deeper meanings and themes.
  • Feminist and gender analysis: This technique focuses on the representation of gender and sexuality in a text, including how gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced or challenged.
  • Marxist and social analysis: This technique examines the social and economic structures portrayed in a text, including issues of class, power, and inequality.

By using these and other techniques, literary critics can offer insightful and nuanced analyses of works of literature, helping readers to understand and appreciate the complexity and richness of the texts.

Sample Critical Analysis Essay

Now that you know how to write a critical analysis, take a look at the critical analysis essay sample provided by our research paper writers and better understand this kind of paper!

Final Words

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Writing a comparative critique is an essential part of a person's college education. Critical writing and analysis is even more important for someone interested in pursuing further degrees in graduate school. The process compels the student to sharpen and fine-tune her critical and analytical skills and avoid the pitfalls of simply digesting information passively from a textbook. Comparing two topics allows the student to approach the topic from more than one perspective.

Select a topic, issue or problem to address. If the comparative critique is a college assignment, the professor may assign a topic or may suggest the student select a topic that relates to the course. The goal of a comparative critique is to focus on two things that are related, such as two characters in a novel, two authors, two political or literary theories and so forth.

Pick a frame of reference for the critique. The frame of reference may be a particular philosophical framework, such as Marxism, phenomenology, feminism or analytic philosophy, a literary criticism framework, such as hermeneutics or post-structuralism, or a psychological framework, such as psychoanalysis. The framework provides a context and tools for the critique. For example, a feminist critique may compare and contrast the way women are portrayed in two historical novels.

Present the rationale and grounds for selecting the two topics or issues. In other words, consider why the particular comparison is important. The goal is to convince the reader that a critical comparison has something important to contribute to the discussion.

Make a list of similarities and differences shared by the two objects of the study. For example, the Republican and Democratic parties share a number of things in common, such as belief in representative and democratic forms of government, a belief in the separation of powers, a commitment to the principles of the Constitution and a belief in the capitalist economic system. However, there are a number of disagreements, as well, over the role of state intervention in the economy, the government's role and responsibility in regards to the economically disadvantaged and so forth.

Develop a strong thesis statement. The thesis should one or two sentences of the introduction. One way to do this is to state or pose a problem with the first sentence and then answer the problem with the second sentence. State your position in clear, strong and unambiguous language. The thesis tells the reader why the comparison is important, the essential steps and arguments used in the comparison and the conclusion reached by the comparison.

Write a rough draft of the critique. Avoid the trap of thinking everything has to be clearly worked out in your mind before writing. The writing process helps to think through and clarify the ideas of the critique. Allow the rough draft to sit for a day or two. Approach it with a fresh mind. Carefully proofread it and make improvements to the form and content.

Write the final version of the critique based on the revisions of the original draft. Conclude the critique with a summary that touches on all the essential points of the critique.

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  • Writing Center at Harvid University; "How to Write a Comparative Analysis;" Kelly Walk; 1998

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.

Comparative Essay

Barbara P

How to Write a Comparative Essay – A Complete Guide

10 min read

Published on: Jan 28, 2020

Last updated on: Nov 21, 2023

Comparative Essay

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Comparative essay is a common assignment for school and college students. Many students are not aware of the complexities of crafting a strong comparative essay. 

If you too are struggling with this, don't worry!

In this blog, you will get a complete writing guide for comparative essay writing. From structuring formats to creative topics, this guide has it all.

So, keep reading!

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What is a Comparative Essay?

A comparative essay is a type of essay in which an essay writer compares at least two or more items. The author compares two subjects with the same relation in terms of similarities and differences depending on the assignment.

The main purpose of the comparative essay is to:

  • Highlight the similarities and differences in a systematic manner.
  • Provide great clarity of the subject to the readers.
  • Analyze two things and describe their advantages and drawbacks.

A comparative essay is also known as compare and contrast essay or a comparison essay. It analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both. The Venn diagram is the best tool for writing a paper about the comparison between two subjects.  

Moreover, a comparative analysis essay discusses the similarities and differences of themes, items, events, views, places, concepts, etc. For example, you can compare two different novels (e.g., The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Red Badge of Courage).

However, a comparative essay is not limited to specific topics. It covers almost every topic or subject with some relation.

Comparative Essay Structure

A good comparative essay is based on how well you structure your essay. It helps the reader to understand your essay better. 

The structure is more important than what you write. This is because it is necessary to organize your essay so that the reader can easily go through the comparisons made in an essay.

The following are the two main methods in which you can organize your comparative essay.

Point-by-Point Method 

The point-by-point or alternating method provides a detailed overview of the items that you are comparing. In this method, organize items in terms of similarities and differences.

This method makes the writing phase easy for the writer to handle two completely different essay subjects. It is highly recommended where some depth and detail are required.

Below given is the structure of the point-by-point method. 

Block Method 

The block method is the easiest as compared to the point-by-point method. In this method, you divide the information in terms of parameters. It means that the first paragraph compares the first subject and all their items, then the second one compares the second, and so on.

However, make sure that you write the subject in the same order. This method is best for lengthy essays and complicated subjects.

Here is the structure of the block method. 

Therefore, keep these methods in mind and choose the one according to the chosen subject.

Mixed Paragraphs Method

In this method, one paragraph explains one aspect of the subject. As a writer, you will handle one point at a time and one by one. This method is quite beneficial as it allows you to give equal weightage to each subject and help the readers identify the point of comparison easily.

How to Start a Comparative Essay?

Here, we have gathered some steps that you should follow to start a well-written comparative essay.  

Choose a Topic

The foremost step in writing a comparative essay is to choose a suitable topic.

Choose a topic or theme that is interesting to write about and appeals to the reader. 

An interesting essay topic motivates the reader to know about the subject. Also, try to avoid complicated topics for your comparative essay. 

Develop a List of Similarities and Differences 

Create a list of similarities and differences between two subjects that you want to include in the essay. Moreover, this list helps you decide the basis of your comparison by constructing your initial plan. 

Evaluate the list and establish your argument and thesis statement .

Establish the Basis for Comparison 

The basis for comparison is the ground for you to compare the subjects. In most cases, it is assigned to you, so check your assignment or prompt.

Furthermore, the main goal of the comparison essay is to inform the reader of something interesting. It means that your subject must be unique to make your argument interesting.  

Do the Research 

In this step, you have to gather information for your subject. If your comparative essay is about social issues, historical events, or science-related topics, you must do in-depth research.    

However, make sure that you gather data from credible sources and cite them properly in the essay.

Create an Outline

An essay outline serves as a roadmap for your essay, organizing key elements into a structured format.

With your topic, list of comparisons, basis for comparison, and research in hand, the next step is to create a comprehensive outline. 

Here is a standard comparative essay outline:

How to Write a Comparative Essay?

Now that you have the basic information organized in an outline, you can get started on the writing process. 

Here are the essential parts of a comparative essay: 

Comparative Essay Introduction 

Start off by grabbing your reader's attention in the introduction . Use something catchy, like a quote, question, or interesting fact about your subjects. 

Then, give a quick background so your reader knows what's going on. 

The most important part is your thesis statement, where you state the main argument , the basis for comparison, and why the comparison is significant.

This is what a typical thesis statement for a comparative essay looks like:

Comparative Essay Body Paragraphs 

The body paragraphs are where you really get into the details of your subjects. Each paragraph should focus on one thing you're comparing.

Start by talking about the first point of comparison. Then, go on to the next points. Make sure to talk about two to three differences to give a good picture.

After that, switch gears and talk about the things they have in common. Just like you discussed three differences, try to cover three similarities. 

This way, your essay stays balanced and fair. This approach helps your reader understand both the ways your subjects are different and the ways they are similar. Keep it simple and clear for a strong essay.

Comparative Essay Conclusion

In your conclusion , bring together the key insights from your analysis to create a strong and impactful closing.

Consider the broader context or implications of the subjects' differences and similarities. What do these insights reveal about the broader themes or ideas you're exploring?

Discuss the broader implications of these findings and restate your thesis. Avoid introducing new information and end with a thought-provoking statement that leaves a lasting impression.

Below is the detailed comparative essay template format for you to understand better.

Comparative Essay Format

Comparative Essay Examples

Have a look at these comparative essay examples pdf to get an idea of the perfect essay.

Comparative Essay on Summer and Winter

Comparative Essay on Books vs. Movies

Comparative Essay Sample

Comparative Essay Thesis Example

Comparative Essay on Football vs Cricket

Comparative Essay on Pet and Wild Animals

Comparative Essay Topics

Comparative essay topics are not very difficult or complex. Check this list of essay topics and pick the one that you want to write about.

  • How do education and employment compare?
  • Living in a big city or staying in a village.
  • The school principal or college dean.
  • New Year vs. Christmas celebration.
  • Dried Fruit vs. Fresh. Which is better?
  • Similarities between philosophy and religion.
  • British colonization and Spanish colonization.
  • Nuclear power for peace or war?
  • Bacteria or viruses.
  • Fast food vs. homemade food.

Tips for Writing A Good Comparative Essay

Writing a compelling comparative essay requires thoughtful consideration and strategic planning. Here are some valuable tips to enhance the quality of your comparative essay:

  • Clearly define what you're comparing, like themes or characters.
  • Plan your essay structure using methods like point-by-point or block paragraphs.
  • Craft an introduction that introduces subjects and states your purpose.
  • Ensure an equal discussion of both similarities and differences.
  • Use linking words for seamless transitions between paragraphs.
  • Gather credible information for depth and authenticity.
  • Use clear and simple language, avoiding unnecessary jargon.
  • Dedicate each paragraph to a specific point of comparison.
  • Summarize key points, restate the thesis, and emphasize significance.
  • Thoroughly check for clarity, coherence, and correct any errors.

Transition Words For Comparative Essays

Transition words are crucial for guiding your reader through the comparative analysis. They help establish connections between ideas and ensure a smooth flow in your essay. 

Here are some transition words and phrases to improve the flow of your comparative essay:

Transition Words for Similarities

  • Correspondingly
  • In the same vein
  • In like manner
  • In a similar fashion
  • In tandem with

Transition Words for Differences

  • On the contrary
  • In contrast
  • Nevertheless
  • In spite of
  • Notwithstanding
  • On the flip side
  • In contradistinction

Check out this blog listing more transition words that you can use to enhance your essay’s coherence!

In conclusion, now that you have the important steps and helpful tips to write a good comparative essay, you can start working on your own essay. 

However, if you find it tough to begin, you can always hire our professional essay writing service . 

Our skilled writers can handle any type of essay or assignment you need. So, don't wait—place your order now and make your academic journey easier!

Frequently Asked Question

How long is a comparative essay.

A comparative essay is 4-5 pages long, but it depends on your chosen idea and topic.

How do you end a comparative essay?

Here are some tips that will help you to end the comparative essay.

  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Wrap up the entire essay
  • Highlight the main points

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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The Full Guide to Writing Comparison Essays with Point-by-Point Method

Comparison essays are a common type of academic writing that requires writers to analyze and evaluate similarities and differences between two or more subjects. This type of essay is often used in literature, history, and social sciences. In this text, we are keen on explaining the different types of writing comparison essays, the critical elements of an adequate comparison essay, and practical tips for writing successful paragraphs for your reader.

What is Point-by-Point Comparison?

A point-by-point comparison essay is a type of essay that presents a comparison of other subjects, the point-by-point method by analyzing a paragraph in detail. In this type of essay, the writer presents each comparison between the block method and then analyzes it before moving on to the next paragraph.

When writing a comparison essay, it’s crucial to choose a clear and concise thesis statement in your contrast and compare writing. Don’t worry if you don’t know something about the contrast comparative essay! With our custom essay service , you can move mountains. The essay is structured in a way that allows the reader to follow the paragraphs quickly, making it easier to compare the first subject and the second subject. They should be specific enough to guide the writer’s block, and each sentence to specify the discussing manner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Contrast Essay

The assignment should then be structured and provided, each paragraph focusing on a single point. One of the advantages of using an essay structure is that it allows for a more detailed analysis of the first and second subjects being compared. By breaking down the comparison into specific points, the author can provide a more nuanced and comprehensive analysis of the differences between the ideas using the block method in each paragraph.

We are here to cope with your students` obstacles and write college essay instead of you . This can make the essay more interesting to read, and it can also provide a deeper understanding of the first and second subject.  However, one of the challenges of writing a comparative essay is that it can be difficult to maintain a clear and coherent complex for your reader. It’s essential to ensure that each point of comparison is fully explored and analyzed without losing sight of the overall thesis of the essay.

Additionally, it can be challenging to find the right balance in the paragraph between the amount of detail provided and the length of the academic writing. Overall, a comparative essay can be an effective way to compare and contrast signal words or ideas. By writing each paragraph in detail, the author can provide a more nuanced and comprehensive point of the second subject being discussed. However, it’s essential to maintain a clear and coherent structure of each sentence to balance the amount of detail provided with the length of the thesis.

how to write a critical comparison essay

How to Use the Point-by-Point Organization?

When using such a block method, it’s essential to identify the critical moments between the points being compared. This will help you determine which ideas to compare in your paragraph. For example, if you are comparing types of cars, you might focus on ideas such as price, fuel efficiency, safety features, and overall performance for your readers. Once you have identified the key, you can create a point-by-point method of writing each sentence and providing a brief description for your future reader.

This list should be structured in a way that is easy to follow, with each point clearly labelled and organized logically. You may also want to include the sub-paragraph within each main point to provide additional detail and analysis.

When writing a point-by-point compare and contrast essay , it’s essential, to begin with, an introduction paragraph that provides background information on the subjects. The essay’s body should then be structured around each paragraph, focusing on a single point and providing a detailed analysis of how the elements are similar or different. It’s essential to use specific examples for the paragraph and evidence to begin your analysis.

Additionally, it’s important to use transition words and phrases to signal when you are moving on to a new point, such as “in addition”, “likewise”, or “conversely”. Finally, the conclusion paragraph should summarize the main points of the comparative essay and provide a final analysis of how the factors are similar or different overall. It’s important to restate the thesis statement in the conclusion, as well as provide the final sentence or recommendations based on your analysis. In conclusion, using the point-by-point method can be an effective way to begin and compare two or more ideas in a thorough and detailed way.

how to write a critical comparison essay

Point-by-Point Method – Tool for Compare-and-Contrast Essay

A-by-point structure of a compare-and-contrast essay is a tool that helps organize the information in each paragraph for your reader. This type of plan breaks down the points of comparison into specific, discrete categories that can be easily compared and contrasted in each paragraph. Each category should be clearly labelled, and the points within each category should be listed logically in a way that makes sense to the reader.

A typical point-by-point method for a compare-and-contrast essay outline might include an introduction that provides background information on the two subjects being compared.

The body of the structure would then be broken down into discrete categories, such as “price,” “features,” “performance,” and “reliability.” Within each category, specific points would be listed as an example, such as “gas mileage,” “safety features”. This can help you organize your thoughts and ensure you cover all the necessary points in your writing assignment. It can also help you identify any gaps in your research or areas where you need to do more analysis.

By breaking down the points into discrete categories, you can create a clear and organized structure that will make it easier to write your comparative essays . In addition, a point-by-point method can help you identify the paragraph where you need to focus your analysis. For example, suppose you notice that one category has significantly more points of comparison than another. In that case, you may need to spend the time-commitment request in that category to ensure that you provide writing through the subjects being discussed.

In conclusion, a point-by-point organization is a helpful tool for organizing the information you plan to write in your compare and contrast paper. By breaking down the points into specific categories, you can create a clear and organized complex that will make it easier to write your longer comparative essays. This complex can also help to compare in your research or areas where you must pay attention to your comparing analysis and an example.

Point-by-Point Outline of Compare and Contrast Paper

I. Introduction

  • A. Writing brief background information about the books using the block method
  • B. Thesis statement and example

II. Resemblance and contrasting features between Book A and Book B

  • B. Characters
  • C. Writing style

III. The distinguished features between Book A and Book B

  • A. Characteristics
  • B. Point of view

IV. Significance of the similarities and differences

  • A. What do the similarities tell your reader about the genre or writing style
  • B. What do the differences tell us about the author’s intent or purpose

V. Final sentence

  • A. Explaining the and contrast of the two books.

Example of Point-by-Point Method Writing

Topic: Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming

The farming industry is a crucial sector in providing food for the population. In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for organic food. Organic farming is a farming method that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Conventional farming, on the other hand, uses synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to maximize crop yields. In this essay, I will compare and contrast organic farming and conventional farming using the point-by-point method.

Point 1: Environmental Impact One of the main differences between organic farming and conventional farming is their impact on the environment. Organic farming methods prioritize the preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity. Organic farmers use natural methods such as crop rotation, cover crops, and natural fertilizers to maintain soil fertility and protect crops from pests. In contrast, conventional farming practices have been known to contribute to soil erosion, water pollution, and loss of biodiversity due to the heavy use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Point 2: Nutritional Value The nutritional value of crops produced through organic and conventional farming methods can differ. Organic crops are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which means they contain fewer chemical residues. Organic crops are also known to have higher nutrient content, such as vitamins and minerals, compared to conventionally grown crops. Conventional farming, on the other hand, uses synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which can leave residues on crops, reducing their nutritional value.

Point 3: Cost The cost of farming can vary between organic and conventional methods. Organic farming often requires more labor and time to maintain crop yields, as natural methods are used instead of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. This can result in higher production costs for organic farmers. Conventional farming, on the other hand, uses synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which can increase crop yields and reduce production costs. This can result in lower prices for consumers.

Point 4: Health Impacts The use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in conventional farming has been linked to various health issues such as respiratory problems, cancer, and neurological disorders. Organic farming practices prioritize the use of natural methods and avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, reducing the health risks associated with conventional farming.

In conclusion, organic farming and conventional farming have their own advantages and disadvantages. Organic farming promotes environmental sustainability and can produce crops with higher nutrient content, but can be more expensive. Conventional farming can be more cost-effective, but its reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can have negative impacts on the environment and human health. Ultimately, the choice between organic and conventional farming depends on the individual’s priorities and values regarding the environment, nutrition, cost, and health.

How many paragraphs is a compare and contrast essay?

The number of paragraphs in a point-by-point essay will depend on the points being compared or contrasted in your academic writing. Each should have its paragraph to clearly explain and support the contrast. For example, suppose the essay is comparing and contrasting three different movies. In that case, there should be three paragraphs, each one dedicated to a specific film and its common or similarities with the others.

When should you use block vs. point-by-point method?

The block method essay is generally used when the two subjects being compared or contrasted have many differences or are complex in nature. The block method involves all the aspects of one subject in your first paragraph and then academic writing. This allows for a comprehensive understanding of both subjects but can make the essay longer and more challenging for being discussed. On the other hand, the point-by-point method is used when the being compared or contrasted has a few paragraph features for academic writing. The block method essay discusses each contrast in a separate paragraph, allowing for a straightforward sentence. Ultimately, the block method chosen should be based on the purpose and point of the academic writing.

What is the difference between subject by subject vs point by point comparison?

The subject-by-subject involves discussing one subject at a time and writing all aspects of that point before academic writing. This method works best when the subjects are complex or have many differences among the paragraphs, allowing for a thorough analysis of each point. The point-by-point method involves writing each point of comparison or contrast between the subjects in a separate paragraph. The block method is ideal when you start your academic writing.

Which point is decisive in choosing a method?

The choice between the block method and others will depend on the specific nature of the subjects being compared and the essay’s paragraph.

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Compare and Contrast Essays: Explained with Examples

Ritik Sharma

  • December 20, 2023

Compare and contrast essays are one of the most common academic writing assignments. As the name suggests, these essays focus on analyzing the similarities and differences between two or more subjects or ideas. This type of essay is often assigned in various courses ranging from literature to social sciences.

A compare and contrast essay aims to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. By comparing and contrasting different subjects, students can look at them from a new perspective and better understand their similarities and differences. This article will discuss the key elements of writing a successful compare-and-contrast essay.

What are Compare and Contrast Essays?

A compare and contrast essay is a specific type of essay that focuses on examining and evaluating the similarities and differences between two or more related subjects. These subjects can be anything from people, events, books, theories, objects, or places. This type of essay aims to develop a deeper understanding of the chosen subjects and present it to the reader in an organized and coherent manner.

Key Elements of Compare and Contrast Essays

Identification of Similarities and Differences: The first step in writing a compare and contrast essay is identifying the key similarities and differences between the subjects. This will help in setting the foundation for your comparison.

Developing a Thesis Statement: A thesis statement is the main argument of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and specific, highlighting the main points of comparison or contrast between the subjects.

Organizing the Essay: There are two common ways to organize a compare and contrast essay:

Subject by Subject: The first section will discuss one subject’s similarities and differences, followed by the second subject in the next section.

Point by Point: Each paragraph will focus on a specific point of comparison or contrast between the subjects.

Supporting Evidence: To make your arguments more convincing, it is important to support them with evidence. This can include examples, statistics, or quotes from reliable sources.

Conclusion: The conclusion of a compare and contrast essay should summarize the main points and restate the thesis statement in light of the arguments presented.

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Writing a compare and contrast essay involves examining the similarities and differences between two or more subjects, providing insights into their relationships, and drawing meaningful conclusions.

Choose Your Subjects : Start by selecting two subjects that share similarities but differ clearly. These could be characters from two different novels, two theories in psychology, or two historical events.

Identify the Points of Comparison or Contrast : Note the similarities and differences between your chosen subjects. This will form the basis of your comparison or contrast. You can use a table to display these points. In one column, list the features of one subject, and in the second column, list the features of the other. This will make it easier to see the points of comparison or contrast.

Incorporate Tables for Organization : Tables systematically organize your points of comparison and contrast and simplify drafting your essay. By arranging your points in a table, you can effortlessly compare and contrast the features of your subjects side by side. This helps you maintain a clear focus, prevents any key points from being overlooked, and serves as a quick reference guide during the writing process.

Use a Venn Diagram : A Venn diagram visualizes the overlap and differences between your subjects. Draw two overlapping circles, one for each subject. The overlapping area will represent the similarities, while the non-overlapping areas will represent the differences .

Develop Your Thesis and Essay Structure : Based on your Venn diagram and table, decide on your main points of comparison or contrast and develop your thesis statement. Plan the structure of your essay, deciding whether to use a subject-by-subject or a point-by-point structure.

Write and Edit Your Essay : Start writing your essay by introducing your subjects and thesis statement. Then, proceed with the body paragraphs, each covering a point of comparison or contrast. Use evidence from your table and Venn diagram to support your points. Finally, write a conclusion that links your points and restates your thesis. Be sure to review and edit your essay for clarity and coherence.

Topic Examples for Compare and Contrast Essays

Selecting compelling subjects for a compare and contrast essay can be thought-provoking, as it entails identifying diverse topics that share commonalities and differences, sparking insightful comparisons.

Comparison between two types of music genres (e.g., rock vs. pop).

Differences in the two countries’ education systems (e.g., US vs. UK).

Similarities and differences between two historical figures (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Nelson Mandela).

Comparison of two art movements (e.g., Impressionism vs. Cubism).

Contrast between two leadership styles (e.g., autocratic vs. democratic).

Differences in the lifestyles of people living in urban and rural areas.

Comparison of two methods for solving a common problem (e.g., traditional vs. modern medicine).

Similarities and differences between two famous novels or movies.

Contrast between two different sports (e.g., basketball vs. soccer).

Comparison of two political systems (e.g., democracy vs. dictatorship).

Compare & Contrast Essay: Introduction Paragraph

When writing a compare and contrast essay, it is important to have a strong introduction that captures the reader’s attention and sets the tone for the rest of your essay. Here are some tips and examples for writing an effective introduction paragraph:

Start with an Interesting Hook

Begin your essay with an attention-grabbing statement or question related to your topic. This will pique the reader’s interest and make them want to continue reading.

Example: Did you know that rock and pop music have more in common than you might think?

Provide Background Information

Give some context about your topic to help the reader understand the purpose of your essay. This could include a brief history or explanation of the topics you will compare and contrast.

Example: Rock and pop music have been two of the most popular genres since the 1950s, but they have distinct differences that make them unique.

State Your Thesis

Your thesis statement should clearly state the main points you will discuss in your essay. This will give the reader a preview of what to expect and guide the rest of your essay.

Example: While both rock music and pop music have a significant influence on popular culture, their origins, styles, and impact are vastly different.

Use Transitional Words

Use transitional words to smoothly transition from your introduction to the body of your essay. This will help guide the reader through your points without feeling disjointed or abrupt.

Example: In this essay, we will compare and contrast the origins, styles, and impact of rock and pop music on popular culture.

Compare and Contrast Essays: Body Paragraph

Crafting effective body paragraphs for compare and contrast essays requires skillful organization and clear analysis, with each paragraph delving into specific points of comparison and contrast to illuminate the chosen topics comprehensively.

Use a Point-by-point Structure

In this type of essay, it is important to compare and contrast each point or aspect in separate paragraphs. This will help keep your essay organized and easy to follow.

Example: While rock and pop music have roots in the United States, their origins differ.

Use Specific Examples

Support your points with specific examples or evidence. This will make your comparisons and contrasts more concrete and compelling.

Example: Rock music originated in the 1950s with iconic artists such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, while pop music emerged in the 1960s with groups like The Beatles and The Supremes.

Consider Both Similarities and Differences

Be sure to focus on the differences and explore similarities between the two topics. This will provide a more balanced analysis and make your essay more interesting.

Example: While rock music is known for its heavy guitar riffs and rebellious lyrics, pop music often features catchy melodies and danceable beats. However, both genres have significantly impacted shaping popular culture throughout history.

Use Transitional Phrases

To effectively compare and contrast your points, use transitional phrases such as “similarly,” “in contrast,” or “on the other hand.” These will help connect your ideas and make your essay flow smoothly.

Example: Both rock and pop music have evolved to incorporate various sub-genres, such as alternative rock and electronic pop. On the other hand, these genres still maintain their distinct characteristics that set them apart.

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5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

A compare and contrast essay selects two or more items that are critically analyzed to demonstrate their differences and similarities. Here is a template for you that provides the general structure:

compare and contrast essay format

A range of example essays is presented below.

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

#1 jean piaget vs lev vygotsky essay.

1480 Words | 5 Pages | 10 References

(Level: University Undergraduate)

paget vs vygotsky essay

Thesis Statement: “This essay will critically examine and compare the developmental theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, focusing on their differing views on cognitive development in children and their influence on educational psychology, through an exploration of key concepts such as the role of culture and environment, scaffolding, equilibration, and their overall implications for educational practices..”

#2 Democracy vs Authoritarianism Essay

democracy vs authoritarianism essay

Thesis Statement: “The thesis of this analysis is that, despite the efficiency and control offered by authoritarian regimes, democratic systems, with their emphasis on individual freedoms, participatory governance, and social welfare, present a more balanced and ethically sound approach to governance, better aligned with the ideals of a just and progressive society.”

#3 Apples vs Oranges Essay

1190 Words | 5 Pages | 0 References

(Level: 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade)

apples vs oranges essay

Thesis Statement: “While apples and oranges are both popular and nutritious fruits, they differ significantly in their taste profiles, nutritional benefits, cultural symbolism, and culinary applications.”

#4 Nature vs Nurture Essay

1525 Words | 5 Pages | 11 References

(Level: High School and College)

nature vs nurture essay

Thesis Statement: “The purpose of this essay is to examine and elucidate the complex and interconnected roles of genetic inheritance (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) in shaping human development across various domains such as physical traits, personality, behavior, intelligence, and abilities.”

#5 Dogs vs Cats Essay

1095 Words | 5 Pages | 7 Bibliographic Sources

(Level: 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade)

Thesis Statement: “This essay explores the distinctive characteristics, emotional connections, and lifestyle considerations associated with owning dogs and cats, aiming to illuminate the unique joys and benefits each pet brings to their human companions.”

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

I’ve recorded a full video for you on how to write a compare and contrast essay:

Get the Compare and Contrast Templates with AI Prompts Here

In the video, I outline the steps to writing your essay. Here they are explained below:

1. Essay Planning

First, I recommend using my compare and contrast worksheet, which acts like a Venn Diagram, walking you through the steps of comparing the similarities and differences of the concepts or items you’re comparing.

I recommend selecting 3-5 features that can be compared, as shown in the worksheet:

compare and contrast worksheet

Grab the Worksheet as Part of the Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack

2. Writing the Essay

Once you’ve completed the worksheet, you’re ready to start writing. Go systematically through each feature you are comparing and discuss the similarities and differences, then make an evaluative statement after showing your depth of knowledge:

compare and contrast essay template

Get the Rest of the Premium Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack (With AI Prompts) Here

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

Compare and contrast thesis statements can either:

  • Remain neutral in an expository tone.
  • Prosecute an argument about which of the items you’re comparing is overall best.

To write an argumentative thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay, try this AI Prompts:

💡 AI Prompt to Generate Ideas I am writing a compare and contrast essay that compares [Concept 1] and [Concept2]. Give me 5 potential single-sentence thesis statements that pass a reasonable judgement.

Ready to Write your Essay?

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Take action! Choose one of the following options to start writing your compare and contrast essay now:

Read Next: Process Essay Examples

compare and contrast examples and definition

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Academic Writing Success

5 Key Steps to Writing an Exceptional Compare and Contrast Essay

by Suzanne Davis | Oct 25, 2021 | Writing Essays and Papers

It isn’t complicated.

But writing an exceptional compare and contrast essay does take effort and planning.  An excellent compare and contrast paper reveals something unique about a topic. It dives into the topic and reflects on the importance of what is compared and contrasted to enlighten its readers. 

So, creating an essay or paper that does this requires preparation and action. 

You need to write in-depth details about the subjects they compare and contrast and analyze and critique the characteristics of the subjects in your essays and papers.

Here are 5 essential steps to help you create a top-notch compare and contrast paper. See how they help you plan and write a paper with great content and critical thinking.

Step 1:  Choose a Compare and Contrast Topic

A compare and contrast essay or paper analyzes 2 or more subjects for similarities and differences.  These subjects have something in common.  For example, you can write about 2 versions of the same movie.  The movies are of the same subject but are from different years.

Your paper could compare and contrast the original Ghostbusters (1984) movie with the remake Ghostbusters (2016).   Here you will describe the similarities and differences between these 2 films.  Then consider which one is better and why it’s better.

There are a vast number of topics you can compare and contrast.  Some ideas for you are:

  • Compare and contrast world leaders.
  • Compare and contrast home, public, and private schools (you can select all of these or choose 2 categories).
  • Compare and contrast characters in a novel.
  • Compare and contrast wind energy and solar energy.
  • Compare and contrast 2 or 3 works of art from the same artist.

These are ideas to get you thinking, but there is an almost limitless list of subjects you can use.  Brainstorm your ideas and select what interests you.

Step 2:  Select Similarities and Differences

Now that you have 2 or 3 subjects you want to compare and contrast, think of each subject’s characteristics or points.  Two approaches you can use are the Venn Diagram and   Listing.

Venn Diagram

A Venn Diagram shows similarities and differences of subjects.  It has 2 overlapping circles with a wide space in the middle. This space shows what the subjects have in common.  Each circle represents a subject.  List similar characteristics or points in the overlapping section.  All other points are in the outer part of the circles.  See the Compare and Contrast Paper Venn Diagram below.

Compare and Contrast Writing Venn Diagram

Compare and Contrast Paper Venn Diagram

But what if you are comparing and contrasting 3 subjects? Add a third circle to the Venn Diagram.  Part of the third circle overlaps with the other circles.  See the Compare and Contrast Paper Venn Diagram–3 Subjects below.  There is also overlapping space between the 2 subjects.  Two subjects may have something in common that differs from the third. 

Compare and Contrast Writing 3-Subject Venn Diagram

Compare and Contrast Essay Venn Diagram–3 Subjects

You can even add a 4th subject with another circle (although your Venn Diagram may get a little too crowded).

In your diagram, write down the points of each subject in a circle.  Everything the subjects have in common goes in a shared space.  Every different characteristic goes to the other part of the circle. This activity gives you a visual representation of what is in common or different with each element.

The listing method also helps you select the points you want to focus on in a paper. To do this activity, write the title/name of each subject you’re comparing and contrasting.   List all of the characteristics of each subject. Then highlight or circle the things that are similar or in common.  The things that aren’t highlighted are contrasting characteristics. Listing helps you discover what points to compare and contrast.

Step 3: Find Supporting Details and Evidence

Next, you need to find evidence that will show how the points for each subject compare and contrast with the elements of the other subject(s).  For example, if you compare and contrast two world leaders, you want to find facts about each person.  It could be evidence of decisions they made, quotes from things they said or did, etc.

As you find evidence, ask yourself the question, “So, what?”   Here are some questions to help you figure out your conclusion: 

  • What is the significance of each piece of evidence? 
  • What conclusion can you draw from it? 
  • How does this piece of evidence relate to other supporting details or evidence you found?

The “So, what?” question deepens your thinking about the content of your paper.  It shows your critical analysis of each subject and point.  The analysis makes your paper more meaningful than a paper that only tells the reader what is similar and different.  Once you can answer, “So, what?” go on to outline your paper.

Step 4: Outline Your Compare and Contrast Essay

It’s easier to write a compare and contrast paper when you outline your content first. There are 2 common ways to structure a compare and contrast essay or paper : Subject by Subject or Point by Point. 

Subject by Subject

This approach is where you write about one subject and its characteristics. Then when you finish describing that subject, you write about the second subject and its characteristics. After you’ve covered both subjects, you write a section about the similarities and differences between them. Here is the outline:

I.  Introduction —hook, general background information, and thesis statement

II. Body –Write about each of the Subjects

  • PART A Subject 1 —points and evidence
  • PART B Subject 2 —points and evidence

III.  Similarities and Differences –describe the similarities of each subject and then differences.

IV. Conclusion — summary of thesis and significance of the paper (“So, what?”)

If you have a third subject, add a PART C section to the body of your outline.

Point by Point

This approach is where you organize your content around the points you want to make. Here you would write the point and then show how it relates to each subject.  The Point by Point format works well in papers, but it is harder to do in a compare and contrast essay. The outline for Point by Point is:

I. Introduction — hook, general background information, and thesis statement

  • PART A Point 1 — relationship to Subject 1, and the relationship to Subject 2
  • PART  B     Point 2— relationship to Subject 1, and the relationship to Subject 2
  • PART C Point 3–relationship to Subject 1, and the relationship to Subject 2

II. Conclusion —summary of thesis and significance of your paper (“So, what?”)

When you have more points you want to make, add them to the body of your compare and contrast paper.  If you have 3 subjects, you can add the third subject to each point.

Both of these outlines help you structure a compare and contrast paper.  Select the one that makes sense to you.  If you can’t decide, outline your content both ways and see which one looks more logical.  Organize your academic essay or paper so that it is easy for your reader to follow.

Step 5: Write Your Compare and Contrast Essay or Paper

The more planning and preparation you do, the easier it is to write your paper.  in this writing process phase, take the content in your outline and put it into writing., write all the parts of your paper, and engaging introduction, a well-developed body, and a memorable conclusion.  make sure you include in-text citations.  and end with a meaningful statement showing your reader the significance of your essay or paper. .

When you finish your paper, revise it.   For tips on revising your writing, check out the post, http://Academic Revising 101: The Essential Essay Revision Checklist” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/academic-revising-101-the-essential-essay-revision-checklist/.

Do you really need to follow this 5-step process?

Do you have to follow every step in this process?  Do you have to write an outline? No.  But these 5 steps will help you write an in-depth compare and contrast essay, paper, or any other comparison project.  An exceptional essay or paper that shows a high level of analysis that stands out to your professor.

The critical thinking your compare and contrast essay or paper demonstrates is what makes your writing outstanding. Grammar, writing mechanics, and writing style are important, but your paper is fluff unless you show a deep understanding of your topic.  Follow this 5-step process so that you can prepare, plan and write a first-rate compare and contrast essay!

Are you stuck thinking of ideas to write about?  Download a copy of Nail Your Research Paper Topic! 

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  3. How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

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  4. How to Write a Comparative Essay: Step-by-Step Structure

    how to write a critical comparison essay

  5. How to Write a Critical Essay

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  6. How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay With Examples

    how to write a critical comparison essay

VIDEO

  1. IA SCHOLAR LECTURE SERIES#021: Easy Writing 6: How to Write a Strong "Conclusion" in Article

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  5. How to do a Critical Analysis (It's Easier than you Think)

  6. Comparison Essay part 2A

COMMENTS

  1. Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

    The block method. In the block method, you cover each of the overall subjects you're comparing in a block. You say everything you have to say about your first subject, then discuss your second subject, making comparisons and contrasts back to the things you've already said about the first. Your text is structured like this: Subject 1.

  2. Comparing and Contrasting

    By assigning such essays, your instructors are encouraging you to make connections between texts or ideas, engage in critical thinking, and go beyond mere description or summary to generate interesting analysis: when you reflect on similarities and differences, you gain a deeper understanding of the items you are comparing, their relationship ...

  3. Compare and Contrast Essays: The Ultimate Guide

    Matt Ellis. Updated on June 2, 2022 Students. A compare-and-contrast essay is a style of essay that points out the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. It's ideal for showing what separates and unites related things or concepts, particularly if the subjects are often confused for each other or unjustly lumped together.

  4. The Comparative Essay

    A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare. positions on an issue (e.g., responses to midwifery in Canada and the United States) theories (e.g., capitalism and communism) figures (e.g., GDP in the United States and Britain)

  5. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Comparing & Contrasting

    Use Clear Transitions. Transitions are important in compare and contrast essays, where you will be moving frequently between different topics or perspectives. Examples of transitions and phrases for comparisons: as well, similar to, consistent with, likewise, too. Examples of transitions and phrases for contrasts: on the other hand, however ...

  6. PDF Comparative Essays

    You have a choice of two basic methods for organizing a comparative essay: the point-by-point method or the block method. The point-by-point method examines one aspect of comparison in each paragraph and usually alternates back and forth between the two objects, texts, or ideas being compared. This method allows you to emphasize points of ...

  7. Beef Up Critical Thinking and Writing Skills: Comparison Essays

    The block method for writing a compare and contrast essay can be illustrated using points A, B, and C to signify individual characteristics or critical attributes. This block format allows the students to compare and contrast subjects, for example, dogs vs. cats, using these same characteristics one at a time.

  8. How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

    How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay. Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Jun 7, 2021 • 3 min read. Critical analysis essays can be a daunting form of academic writing, but crafting a good critical analysis paper can be straightforward if you have the right approach. Critical analysis essays can be a daunting form of academic writing, but ...

  9. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    1. Begin by Brainstorming With a Venn Diagram. The best compare and contrast essays demonstrate a high level of analysis. This means you will need to brainstorm before you begin writing. A Venn diagram is a great visual tool for brainstorming compare and contrast essay topics.

  10. 4.1: Introduction to Comparison and Contrast Essay

    4.1: Introduction to Comparison and Contrast Essay. The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. Comparison and contrast is simply telling how two things are alike or different. The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to ...

  11. 8 Step-By-Step Guide On How To Write A Comparison Essay

    The first half of the body will be devoted to the first subject, while the second half will be focused on the second: Your thesis is stated in the introduction. You start with the first topic. Then you move on to the second topic. You repeat the thesis and briefly summarise your essay in conclusion.

  12. How to Write a Critical Essay

    Resist the urge to summarize. Critical essays should consist of your own analysis and interpretation of a text, not a summary of the text in general. If you find yourself writing lengthy plot or character descriptions, pause and consider whether these summaries are in the service of your main argument or whether they are simply taking up space ...

  13. Quick Guide on How to Write a Critical Analysis: Topics and ...

    Step 2: Critical Analysis Writing. Here are some tips for critical analysis writing, with examples: Start with a strong thesis statement: A strong critical analysis thesis is the foundation of any critical analysis essay. It should clearly state your argument or interpretation of the text.

  14. How to write a critical essay

    Researching, mind mapping and making notes will help sort and prioritise your ideas. If you are writing a critical essay, planning will help you decide which parts of the text to focus on and what ...

  15. How to Write a Comparative Critique

    Allow the rough draft to sit for a day or two. Approach it with a fresh mind. Carefully proofread it and make improvements to the form and content. Write the final version of the critique based on the revisions of the original draft. Conclude the critique with a summary that touches on all the essential points of the critique.

  16. Comparative Essay

    A comparative essay is a type of essay in which an essay writer compares at least two or more items. The author compares two subjects with the same relation in terms of similarities and differences depending on the assignment. The main purpose of the comparative essay is to: Highlight the similarities and differences in a systematic manner.

  17. How to Write Comparison Essay with Point-by-Point Method

    A point-by-point comparison essay is a type of essay that presents a comparison of other subjects, the point-by-point method by analyzing a paragraph in detail. In this type of essay, the writer presents each comparison between the block method and then analyzes it before moving on to the next paragraph. When writing a comparison essay, it's ...

  18. How to compare texts

    When you compare texts, it's important to talk about both texts all the way through. Don't write all about one text, then all about the other. In each paragraph, make sure you mention both ...

  19. Compare and Contrast Essays: Explained with Examples

    A compare and contrast essay aims to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. By comparing and contrasting different subjects, students can look at them from a new perspective and better understand their similarities and differences. This article will discuss the key elements of writing a successful compare-and-contrast essay.

  20. 5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

    Here they are explained below: 1. Essay Planning. First, I recommend using my compare and contrast worksheet, which acts like a Venn Diagram, walking you through the steps of comparing the similarities and differences of the concepts or items you're comparing. I recommend selecting 3-5 features that can be compared, as shown in the worksheet:

  21. 5 Key Steps to Writing an Exceptional Compare and Contrast Essay

    Step 1: Choose a Compare and Contrast Topic. A compare and contrast essay or paper analyzes 2 or more subjects for similarities and differences. These subjects have something in common. For example, you can write about 2 versions of the same movie. The movies are of the same subject but are from different years.

  22. 2 Comparison Essay Examples That Make Cool Comparisons

    Comparison essay example #2: Hinduism and Buddhism Compare and Contrast Essay. This paper focuses on a comparison of Hinduism and Buddhism. Like the previous essay, the title of this paper needs work. This essay, though, provides a solid comparison of the two religions. Remember, when writing a compare and contrast essay, it's impossible to ...

  23. ENGL1101 Critical Comparison Essay

    ENGL1101 Critical Comparison Essay. Assignment 1, Sohanur Rahman, T00566857,ENGL 1101. Capital Punishment draft final. ENGL1101 - Introduction to University Writing, Article Summary, Assignment 1. ENGL1101 Maljaars Alexa Assignment 1 B. Capital Punishment - Project Report. assignment 2: English 1101. Capital Punishment draft final.