How To Write a Good Compare and Contrast Essay Outline
A compare and contrast essays are heavily based on facts. These essays require you to take two subjects and draw all the similarities and differences between them. However, it is not as simple as stating the comparisons.
Every compare and contrast essays have a few purposes:
- To demonstrate which one is superior.
- To clarify any common misunderstandings.
- To give a new perspective on a subject or idea.
- To support each claim with reliable facts and resources.
This can only be achieved with the right compare and contrast essay template. You must be able to organize your ideas and thoughts perfectly. This can be done using different methods based on the requirements presented by your university.
How To Structure a Compare and Contrast Essay
When planning a compare and contrast essay, the outline is very important to help you organize your thoughts correctly. There are two types of compare and contrast essay outlines:
- Point by Point
- Block method
We will discuss the difference between the two in detail in the following section. However, there are some basic components that are similar for both types:
Like any other type of essay that you present in universities, even a compare and contrast essay begins with a strong introduction. This is the section where the reader gets an overall idea of the subject or ideas that you wish to compare or contrast. This part of the compare/contrast essay outline should feature the following:
- The main topic: This is where you should capture the attention of your reader. Using a quote or any other hook is highly recommended, as long as it is in line with your subject. You can even use a question or anecdote that you think will intrigue the reader to learn more about what you have presented in the paper.
- Compare and contrast subjects: The essence of a compare and contrast essay lies in the subjects that you are comparing. Needless to say, you need to give the reader some introduction to the subjects that you have chosen. You cannot begin the easy with comparisons right away. So, use a sentence or two that can highlight the subjects that you wish to discuss in the paper.
- Thesis statement: Students must set the tone for the rest of the paper using the thesis statement. This is the last part of your introduction which should give the reader a fair idea of why you are comparing these two subjects and what the possible outcome will be.
Ideally, a comparative essay outline consists of three body paragraphs. However, this depends upon the subjects that you have chosen and how many criteria you need to discuss to fulfil the thesis statement.
You can also divide each body paragraph into different aspects that can compare and contrast the subjects easily. Once the title for each body paragraph and the aspects have been decided, you get a clear understanding of the direction that your research will take.
When you are conducting your research based on this structure, you may come across many more categories and aspects that need to be included. However, essays have a word limit and must be very concise. So, you do not have to include every difference or similarity that you find. All you need to include are points that are relevant to your thesis statement. When you cannot decide which points to include or eliminate in your compare and contrast essay outline, just ask yourself a few questions:
- Is this point relevant for the course that I have enrolled for?
- Will it add any value to the argument that I am making?
- Is it of any interest to my readers?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can decide upon how many paragraphs you wish to include. Each paragraph should contain the main point of discussion and relevant details for subject 1 and subject 2. The more facts you present, the more substantial your body paragraph.
The compare and contrast essay format is complete with the conclusion. This is usually the simplest part of the essay. However, it should be structured correctly to make an impact. Here are the points that should be included in the conclusion:
- Summary of main points: You must provide a summary of every point that has been made in the essay.
- Evaluation: Everything that you have discussed in the previous parts of your compare and contrast essay format must be analysed in this section. You can even mention solutions to issues that you have discussed if any. The evaluation depends on the topic that you have chosen.
- Significance: No matter what your final conclusion with respect to the main topic is, your conclusion must state the significance of this conclusion. This is very simple to understand. Just ask yourself what your goal of comparing these two subjects is? What do you wish for your reader to take back after reading your paper?
Now that you know the basics of how to write a compare and contrast essay outline, here are more details on the two commonly used formats in college or university.
Point By Point Compare And Contrast Essay Format
With some topics for comparative analysis, the subjects are very similar to each other. In these cases, you may only have to evaluate some criteria when you are comparing them. In this case, the best outline for compare and contrast essay is the point by point method.
As the name suggests, you only have to highlight the criteria that you wish to compare and present your evaluation and facts using bullet points. The structure is divided into different segments as mentioned below. To help you understand better, you also have a compare and contrast essay outline example along with a thesis statement.
- Introduction of the main topic
- Specific subjects or topics that you need to compare and contrast
- The statement of your thesis
Example of thesis statement: Motorcycles and cars are great options for transportation within the city. However, the choice that you make depends on your finances, lifestyle and the city that you live in.
Paragraph 1: First Criteria of Discussion
- Details for subject 1
- Details for subject 2
Motorcycles do not impact the lifestyle of the owner like cars.
- Motorcycles are easier to store as they are smaller in size
- Motorcycles are more user friendly and easy to learn
- Cars need a dedicated, large parking spot
- You take more time to become a good driver
Paragraph 2: Second Criteria of Discussion
- Details for subject 1
- Details for subject 2
A motorcycle is more affordable than a car
- You can buy a motorcycle for under Rs.25000
- Servicing and maintaining a motorcycle is cheaper
- You need to spend at least Rs.1,00,000 – 1,50,000 even for a second-hand car in good condition.
- Annual maintenance and spare parts of cars are more expensive than motorcycles
Paragraph 3: Third Criteria of Discussion
- Details for subject 1
- Details for subject 2
A car is a better option for cities with better infrastructure and wider roads
- Riding motorcycles on highways or wider roads is more dangerous
- They are the best mode of transport for less developed cities with narrow roads.
- You need wider roads in order to navigate the car properly
- Even in cities that have heavy traffic, a car is a more comfortable option.
- Summary of the topic
- Significance of each subject
- Evaluation of possible future developments.
- Overall, a motorcycle is the more feasible mode of transport for daily use.
- While motorcycles are cheaper and easier to use, cars provide a safer mode of transport.
- With the advancement of technology, motorcycles are becoming increasingly safe to use in most conditions.
To help you understand better, here is a point by point compare and contrast essay outline example along with a thesis statement.
Block Method Comparative Analysis
Like any other compare and contrast essay, the block method also follows the structure of introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. However, the approach for this type of compare and contrast essay is slightly different. Instead of separating each category of comparison, you can use one block paragraph to list the similarities and the other one to list the differences. Alternatively, you can list the features of one subject in paragraph 1 and the second subject in paragraph 2.
Here is a detailed sample outline for compare and contrast essay using the same thesis statement as mentioned above. This example will help you understand how to structure the body paragraphs in your essay.
Maintenance and usability of motorcycles is cheaper than cars
- Motorcycles are easy to store and smaller in size
- They are easier for you to learn.
- A good motorcycle can be purchased for under Rs.25000
- The parts are cheaper to buy and fix
- In larger metros with wider roads, motorcycles are not entirely safe to use
- Motorcycles can cause issues like back pain in crowded cities.
Cars are more expensive but offer better comfort
- Cars need more space for parking
- It takes time to master driving a car.
- Even a second-hand car costs you a minimum of Rs.1,00,000
- The parts are more expensive.
- Cars are better for wider roads as they are easier to navigate
- In crowded cities, cars are safer and more comfortable.
The last paragraph is used to evaluate all the points mentioned in the comparison paper outline mentioned above. You can explain why each point is important and support it with more facts. For relevant subjects, you can even provide real life examples of how one subject is more useful than the other.
This is followed by a conclusion that is similar to the point-by-point method. However, you have the scope to explain each point in greater detail as you can write longer paragraphs with this structure.
Tips to Write a Good Compare and Contrast Essay
The outline and structure cover only one aspect of a good compare and contrast essay. Here are some helpful tips that you can use to make your essay look more professional:
- Make the transitions powerful: A good flow is central to a good compare and contrast essay according to experts. Use transition words and sentences to achieve this. Some examples of good connectors or transition words are:
- At the same time
- In the same way
- Just as
- In contrast to
- In addition
- On the contrary
- Always present good evidence: When making arguments in your compare and contrast essay, you must support it with enough evidence. During your research, use your textbooks, scholarly articles, newspaper articles and magazines to find the latest facts and figures with respect to your topics. You can even provide anecdotes from real life that make your argument more relatable and easy to understand. Statistics, excerpts from the research papers and news pieces are the best type of evidence for any essay.
- Clarify all concepts: Every concept that you introduce in the essay must be explained well. If there is any piece of information that is not common knowledge, provide more details. Never assume that your readers are aware of all the concepts presented in your essay.
- Proofread: Before you submit your essay, always proofread it. With a compare and contrast essay, it is very easy to lose the flow from one topic to another. Reading the essay thoroughly will help you fix this issue. You can also avoid common mistakes like grammatical errors that can cost you a few marks. It is also a good idea to have a friend or family member read through your essay. That way, if you have made any errors with your comparative essay outline or have any grammatical errors, it can be rectified easily. It is easy to miss out on them when you proofread your own paper. Also bear in mind that grammar check software is not 100% accurate. So, just running your paper through it is not a good idea.
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