How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay: Unbiased Guide for …

C � Comparing and Contrasting (And Writing, Too) [Teacher Tips from A to Z]

Busy Teacher logo
  • Worksheets

    • All topics A-Z
    • Grammar
    • Vocabulary
    • Speaking
    • Reading
    • Listening
    • Writing
    • Pronunciation
  • Articles
  • Posters
  • Books
  • More

    • Worksheets by season
    • 600 Creative Writing Prompts
    • Warmers, fillers & ice-breakers
    • Coloring pages to print
    • Flashcards
    • Classroom management worksheets
    • Emergency worksheets
    • Revision worksheets
    • Resources we recommend

C � Comparing and Contrasting (And Writing, Too) [Teacher Tips from A to Z]

Susan Verner

by Susan Verner

The combination of comparing and contrasting forms one of the most popular essay forms in English classes today, but comparing and contrasting in and of themselves are not purposes for writing. Though we use comparing and contrasting often in our writing, the purpose of papers that use this type of organization should be to persuade, to inform or to explain.

With the understanding that comparing and contrasting are methods of organization and not reasons for writing, here is a straightforward way to teach your ESL class how to write a compare and contrast essay.

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

  1. 1

    Clarify the Purpose

    While the purpose of a compare/contrast essay is to persuade, inform or explain, the reasons one might want to do those things have more variety. Usually, a compare/contrast essay will aim to do one of the following 4 things:

    1. To show that one item is superior to another like item (that Nintendo video games are superior to Sony video games)
    2. To explain something that is unknown by comparing it to something that is known (explain the Presbyterian church government by comparing it to the U.S. government)
    3. To show that two dissimilar things are actually quite similar or vice versa
    4. To show how something has changed over time (the Unites States now as opposed to the United States before September 11, 2001).
  2. 2

    Gather Some Ideas

    With any essay, it is helpful to invest some time in prewriting. The process of prewriting helps a person think about a particular topic and collect her ideas before trying to organize them into a logical essay. A Venn diagram is a good way to prewrite for a compare/contrast essay. To make a Venn diagram, draw two circles of the same size with part of the circles overlapping. Each circle will represent one item that your student will compare in the essay. Label each circle for one of the two items, and then in each circle, write ideas about that item. Where the circles overlap, write ideas that are true of both of the items. If your students do this correctly, they will have all the similarities in the overlapping section of the diagram, and the places that do not overlap will have the differences. Then students should select three or four key points on which to compare the two items. If an essay contains more points than that it may become too lengthy or disconnected, so students should choose those points which will support their thesis most clearly.

  3. 3

    Organize, Organize, Organize

    There are 2 ways to successfully organize a compare/contrast essay.

    The first structure is called block organization. With block organization, your essay will have four paragraphs. The first paragraph will be the introduction. The second paragraph will discuss all the points about one item. For example, give all the pertinent information about apples, their nutritional content, popularity and availability. The third paragraph will discuss all the points about the second item, in this case oranges, again examining their nutritional content, popularity and availability. Students should present the points about the two items in the same order in the two body paragraphs so that the essay has unity and parallel structure. The final paragraph is the conclusion. Block organization is most effective when there is not a large amount of information included in the essay. If a student tries to put too much information in block organization, the overall essay will seem disjointed and lacking in coherence.

     The second method of organization for a compare/contrast essay is called point-by-point organization. This structure will elicit an essay with five or six paragraphs depending on how many points of comparison your student has chosen. The first paragraph is again the introduction. The second paragraph will discuss one point and how it factors into both items. For example, one paragraph may discuss the nutritional content of both the apple and the orange. The third paragraph will then discuss another point about both items. Here it may examine the popularity of both the apple and the orange. The fourth paragraph does the same with the third point, and if there is a fourth point of comparison it is examined in the fifth paragraph. The final paragraph is again the conclusion. The advantage to point-by-point organization is the two items are examined simultaneously, and the reader gets a clearer value judgment for each point. Using this type of organization can make body paragraphs unusually short if students to not elaborate adequately, so encourage students to have at least four sentences in each of these paragraphs.

It is now time to write the essay, do some editing and revising and make revisions. In the conclusion, make sure your students have accomplished the goal they set forth in the introduction. They should have persuaded, explained or informed their reader adequately. They should remind the reader of their thesis and offer some final thoughts to round out the paper.

Once our students understand that comparing and contrasting are not reasons for writing but are merely organizational strategies, they will write stronger more compelling pieces.

Using a Venn diagram for prewriting will help the process, and then students can choose either block organization or point-by-point organization. A strong conclusion that echoes the thesis will complete a successful compare/contrast essay for your students.

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, please help spread it by clicking one of those sharing buttons below. And if you are interested in more, you should follow our Facebook page where we share more about creative, non-boring ways to teach English.

Like us!

Popular Articles:
  • 4 Simple Listening Activities – No Prep Required

  • 10 Reasons to Learn English

  • How to Make English Language Learners Feel Welcome in the Classroom

  • How to Teach Fluency and Comprehension Side-by-Side

  • Teaching The Pronunciation of C and G

Related Categories
  • Writing

Entire BusyTeacher Library

Get the Entire BusyTeacher Library:
Dramatically Improve the Way You Teach
Save hours of lesson preparation time with the Entire BusyTeacher Library. Includes the best of BusyTeacher: all 80 of our PDF e-books. That’s 4,036 pages filled with thousands of practical activities and tips that you can start using today. 30-day money back guarantee.

Learn more

Popular articles like this

Breaking out of the Mold

3 Times You Shouldn�t Just Do Things the Same Old Ways

0 5,475 0

Creative Writing Prompts

6 Smart Ways to Organize Writing Content

0 55,883 0


What You Can Do With Writing Prompts Part Four: Types of Essays

0 28,056 0


3 Ready to Go ESL Lessons Based on Disney�s Movie Inside Out

0 25,121 0

Movie + Video + Cartoons

Don�t Be Fooled by Great Grammar! Your Students Need This for Great English, Too

0 6,107 0

Mingling Activities

How to Teach Argumentative Essay Writing

0 125,233 0


  • Copyright 2007-2018 �
  • About
  • Submit a worksheet
  • Log in
  • Terms
  • Privacy
  • Contact us
  • Mobile version

Working. Please wait…



Admission Essay Writing
Custom Essay Writing
Research Paper Writing Service
Term Paper Writing
Write my essay

Essay Editing Service
Essay Revision

Contact us

Order now

Admission Essay Writing
Custom Essay Writing
Research Paper Writing Service
Term Paper Writing
Write my essay

Essay Editing Service
Essay Revision

Contact us


How to Compose Exceptionally Good Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

access_timeMarch 29, 2018

compare and contrast essay outline

Throughout the course of your education and career (if you choose to become a writer), you’ll have the opportunity to work on different writing assignments and, of course, essays are inevitable.

The essay is a piece of writing that methodically analyzes and evaluates a topic or issue. That’s why there are different types of essays, used to discuss, analyze, evaluate, or compare different situations or subjects e.g. argumentative essay , cause and effect essay , and compare and contrast essay.

Your ability to create an excellent paper depends on structuring a perfect outline. Throughout this post, I’m going to show you how to compose an outline for compare and contrast essay to get good grades (or positive feedback from the client) every time.

Compare and contrast essay outline

The easiest definition of compare and contrast essay that explore both the similarities and differences between two subjects by comparing or contrasting them. It’s very easy to mistake this style of essay writing for a simple comparison between some topics or subjects, but that’s not entirely correct. Always bear in mind that your essay has to serve a larger purpose and include the following:

  • Demonstrate that one thing is superior to another
  • Identify and clarify common misunderstandings
  • Provide a new way of doing or understanding something
  • State, elaborate, discuss something unknown
  • Support every claim with facts and accurate, reliable sources

When it comes to structuring the outline for this kind of essay, there are different methods you can follow depending on the organization.

Point-by-point pattern (organization by criteria)

This outline is primarily used to compare items or subjects that are almost similar or when you plan (or have to) evaluate only a few characteristics or criteria when comparing them. Use the diagram below to create the outline for the point-by-point pattern.

compare and contrast essay outline - point-by-point pattern

Block pattern (organization by item)

In instances when you have to compare items, situations, or topics that are entirely different or when there are multiple criteria to involve, the point-by-point pattern doesn’t function quite well. That’s why you should opt for block pattern or organization by item.

Why? The reason is simple; the same criteria don’t apply to different topics, people, objects, events, and so on. When the essay requires a multitude of approaches to explore, it’s important to learn how to organize it properly in a bid to ensure easy reading. Create the outline based on the diagram below.

compare and contrast essay outline - block pattern

Block pattern can be structured in a different manner as well. Instead of the separate paragraph for each point, you compare, you can set out one section to name their similarities and a second paragraph to analyze dissimilarities point by point.

Now that you know how to create a functional outline, you’re ready to move on to the essay writing process.


The intro for this kind of essay doesn’t differ much from other types. It’s the part where you introduce the overall subject of the piece and specific items, situations, or events you have to compare and/or contrast. As seen in diagrams, the introduction should feature :

  • The mentioning of the main topic – begin with a hook sentence and detail specific to the topic itself. Your hook can be a quote, question, anecdote, anything you see fit for the particular subject you have to write about
  • Specific subjects to compare and contrast – of course, you can’t start writing about similarities and differences between two items out of the blue. That’s why you should set out a sentence or two to mention specific topics you’ll compare under the central theme
  • Thesis statement – it marks the tone of the essay and catches reader’s attention. Last sentence (or two) of your paper should account for a specific and concise thesis. There’s no need for wordiness in this part because thesis, as the entire introduction, shouldn’t be too long.

Once you’re done with the intro, you’re ready to move on to the body paragraphs.

Essay Editors that may help

Ben M.


№1 in global rating

View Ben’s Profile


Finished papers


Customer reviews

Dr. Joshua


№2 in global rating

View Profile


Finished papers


Customer reviews



№3 in global rating

View Valerie’s Profile


Finished papers


Customer reviews



№4 in global rating

View Teresa’s Profile


Finished papers


Customer reviews



№5 in global rating

Check Mandy’s Profile


Finished papers


Customer reviews



№6 in global rating

Check Nora’s Profile


Finished papers


Customer reviews

Body paragraphs

A total number of paragraphs in the body section depends on a number of aspects or criteria you have to discuss. For example, if you have to make a comparison between two different events through two aspects, you’ll need two paragraphs. Three criteria require three paragraphs, and so on. Sometimes, you’ll get the amount of aspects to use for comparison/contrast from your professor or a client, while in other instances, you’ll just have to determine the number yourself during the research process.

When you get the title and aspects to compare but without a certain number of criteria to cover similarities and differences, you have to brainstorm. Take a blank piece of paper and write the first item in the left corner, the second item in the right corner. Make a Venn diagram and start analyzing.

compare and contrast essay outline - body paragraphs

REMEMBER: Typically, you don’t need more than three aspects to cover, unless otherwise noted.

When you start brainstorming and researching the topic, the chances are high you’ll find a wide array of differences and similarities. However, your essay has to be well-crafted, and you can’t include absolutely everything you find (that way you’d write forever). To determine what to compare or differentiate answer these questions:

  • Is this relevant for my course?
  • What matters to the argument I’m going to take (or I’m given)?
  • What’s informative and interesting?
  • What’s relevant to my assignment?

Each paragraph in the body should start with a topic sentence (point 1, criterion 1/item A, B) focused on the aspect you’re about to compare/contrast. Then, you proceed with details you find when conducting research. Remember, just like in other types of essays, thorough research is highly relevant here, too.

It’s not just about mentioning differences and similarities one by one and stating your opinion or argument about them. Every detail you find should be supported by substantial evidence, statistics, studies, official data, and so on.

To show comparisons and emphasize the overall effect, don’t forget to use some connectors such as:

  • At the same time, as well as
  • Both
  • Compared to
  • Correspondingly
  • In addition
  • In the same way
  • Just as
  • Likewise
  • Same as
  • Similarly

Of course, you can include connectors to express or heighten the contrasting effect. For example:

  • Conversely
  • Even though, although
  • However
  • In contrast
  • Meanwhile
  • Nevertheless
  • On the contrary
  • On the other hand
  • Unlike

For the best possible result and successful completion of the essay, the body paragraphs should be analyzed from the perspective of an independent analytic. Ideally, your paper shouldn’t be biased. You don’t want the reader of your paper to assume what item you prefer or despise automatically.


At this point, you have the introduction and body paragraphs, which indicates you’re ready to conclude the essay. Generally, this is the easiest part, but you should ensure it’s properly structured as well. Here’s what your conclusion should contain :

  • Summary of main points – at the very beginning of this part, you should summarize the main points you’ve made throughout the essay. It’s important to synthesize your thesis with info in body paragraphs
  • Evaluation – provide a short analysis of what you discussed in the paper or mention possible solutions. The approach depends on the nature of your subject
  • Significance – not only do you have to clarify the importance of the main topic, but also mention the significance of comparisons or contrasts. How to do this? It’s not that difficult; answer the What was my goal in showing similarities/differences between these items? Your response indicates their significance.

Post-writing stage

You finished writing the paper, but your work isn’t over just yet. Before sending or submitting the essay, it’s necessary to proofread and edit the paper to eliminate all mistakes and unwanted parts.

Proofreading isn’t only necessary for correcting typos or grammar, these seemingly unimportant errors that “everyone makes” break the reader from the flow of the paper and undermine its power of persuasion. When you finish the essay, read your work from top to bottom without doing anything. You’ll probably spot some mistakes, but don’t rush correcting them immediately. Then, start reading again and correct typos, grammar errors, and sentence constructions. Don’t resist the urge to rewrite some sentences for better effect.

Nowadays, in the era of technology, you might feel tempted to download software (or find grammar/spelling checker online) and let it do the work for you. First of all, they aren’t always correct, and secondly, your critical thinking skills will improve only when you do it yourself. The software can be used as additional essay help . Another useful idea is to ask a family member or a friend to read the essay and see if they can spot some mistakes.

You’re almost ready to submit your essay, check whether you included references (if not, do so) and you’re done.

What’s your Essay Score?

Essay Checker for College Applications or Perfecting your Daily Writing.

Try Free Now

Bottom line

Compare, and contrast essay is concerned with evaluating differences and similarities between given items or topics. It’s not just a mere comparison; the essay requires thorough evaluation and analysis supported by reliable data. This post explained how to create the outline properly, and all you have to do is to write according to the structure provided. Remember, once you create the structure and choose the adequate pattern (point-by-point or block), you just have to fill in the missing detail with results of your search.

The Best Articles from Edusson

The Edusson email digest is a weekly summary of the most popular and inspiring essay-related content. We curate the best so you can stay continually informed.

You may also like

Show more