How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay: All Things Considered

Writing guide
Posted on February 8, 2019

Compare and contrast essay is one of the most widespread types of academic essays. From the high school times, this type of academic writing is used to check the knowledge and understanding of the students on specific topics or issues. Furthermore, compare and contrast essays are meant to show how the students can apply and use the learned material in real life. However, many people are confused with this type of essay as they fail to understand the very title. That is, compare and contrast essay presupposes thorough analysis of similarities and differences between two or more objects or items. Also, you should pay attention to the fact that these papers can be written on any topic in any discipline. Nevertheless, they are mostly used while comparing different theories (philosophy, literature), analyzing historical events, and other. Even though it may usually seem to be difficult to choose the topic for the high-qualitative and informative compare and contrast essay, you should only think more about the material you have covered during the course. Then you should decide on the issue or problem with two opposing views, so there will be differences and similarities to analyze.

In order to write an efficient compare and contrast essay, you may look at the next topics for the essay:

  • Differences and Similarities between the Views on Slavery of the Northerners and Southerners of the U.S. During the 18th Century;
  • Compare and Contrast English Renaissance Theater and Italian Renaissance Theater;
  • How the Immigration Policies of European Countries Differ from American Ones?
  • Differences and Similarities between Ancient Greek and Roman Sculpture;
  • Vegans and Vegetarians: Compare and Contrast the Benefits of Two Eating Habits;
  • Compare and Contrast the Impact of a Healthy Lifestyle and Medication on People Suffering from Diabetes;
  • Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle: Whose Wedding Was Better?
  • The Effects of Colonization on Countries of Northern and Latin America;
  • Differences and Similarities of Judaism and Christianity Regarding God’s Perception;
  • Communism in China and the Soviet Union: Similarities and Differences.

Pre-writing Tips from Our Academic Writers

As it was already mentioned before by our essay writers, writing a compare and contrast essay is not as challenging as it may seem at first sight. However, you should spend plenty of time on the pre-writing process, which is the preparation phase before actually starting working on the paper. First of all, you should critically analyze the context of the chosen topic. The title of your essay should be clear and concise so that both you and the readers understand what your work is about. For instance, if you are writing about the differences and similarities between the views on slavery of the Northerners and Southerners during the 18th century, you should focus only on the given period. As a result, you will only be able to address the sources, documents, and evidence that talk about the 18th century in the history of the U.S.

Here comes the next important step while preparing for writing a compare and contrast essay – looking for the appropriate and relevant sources. Directly looking on the Internet for articles that provide you with the list of differences and similarities on the chosen items or issues is not a good idea. Indeed, you should look through the material once again, study the information in details, and look for the controversial points. For example, if you are writing about the Enlightenment movement in the US and France, it becomes evident that the movement had peculiarities in both of these countries because of their different economics, politics, and even societies. As a result, Enlightenment in these countries was developing differently, which, in its turn, changed the development of arts of that period.

When it comes to compare and contrast essay writing, you should remember that you will be discussing the differences and similarities. Consequently, it is recommended to draft a short outline before writing the very essay not to forget anything. For instance, you can start with writing out the differences and similarities between the views of Northerners and Southerners on slavery. By having two columns with differences and similarities, you will clearly see the main point of your future essay. In such a way, you will be able to make a coherent and logical structure for this academic writing.


One of the main peculiarities of compare and contrast essay is its structure. That is, you will have to discuss the variety of different points which should support your opinion on the issue. Therefore, it is crucial for the flow and the structure of this academic writing work to be logical for you. Thus, it is not going to confuse or mislead the readers.

There are two ways of organizing a compare and contrast essay. The first method is called the alternating method. It presupposes that the author of the writing focuses on the points being discussed rather than on the issues or objects that have to be contrasted and compared. That is, you alternate between the compared and contrasted items while talking about a specific point of view. For example, you may discuss the attitudes of Northern and Southern slaveholders to their slaves. While analyzing this point of view, you will talk about both – the Northerners and Southerners no matter whether they had similar or different attitudes towards slaves.

The next method of organizing a compare and contrast essay is called the block method. It suggests that you should talk about the items being compared rather than on the points of comparison. For instance, in the first few paragraphs of your essay, you will talk about the first item only. In the next paragraphs, you will provide information and discuss the second item.

Title/Thesis Statement/Body Paragraphs


In compare and contrast essays, the introduction is usually more extensive as it requires more information to be covered. Nevertheless, you should always provide the necessary background information for either the points of comparison or items being compared and contrasted. It is necessary to make sure that the readers are aware of the context, so they understand all the points you will make throughout the essay. If your essay is informal, you can also include a hook at the beginning of the paragraph to engage with the readers and make them interested in the topic. Usually, a question or a sentence with statistical data can serve as a great hook.
For example:

  • 1. Would the US history be different, if Southern slave-owners were as caring and kind to their African Americans workers as the Northerners?
  • 2. According to Jones, 3 millions of slaves died on Southern plantations during the 18th century.


    The next significant step is to create a thesis statement. You should remember that the thesis statement is the most important sentence in the introductory paragraph that informs your readers on the topic of your whole essay. That is why it is vitally important to include all the main points in this sentence. In addition, in a compare and contrast essay, your thesis should include both differences and similarities of the compared issues or objects.

    A good example of a strong and successful thesis statement is the next one:

    1. Even though both the Northerners and the Southerners relied on their slaves during the 18th century, the first ones were more kind to their African American workers and supported the idea of liberating them.

    As you can see, this thesis highlights both similarities and differences of the views of the Northern and Southern residents of the US during the 18th century. On the one hand, the essay shows that both Northerners and Southerners were using slaves in their households, which is a similarity. On the other hand, the author indicates that unlike Southerners, Northerners treated their slaves better. What is more, Northerners were more willing to free their slaves and recognize them as equal citizens of the country.

    Body Paragraphs

    You should also consider the fact that each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence. Similarly to the thesis statement, this sentence will reveal the main point of the paragraph. Depending on the structure you have chosen for your compare and contrast essay, the topic sentences may vary. Here you can look at the examples of the correct topic sentences:

    1. During the late 18th century, Northern slave-owners cared for their African American workers by providing separate housing for families or couples and even organizing lessons on reading and writing.

    2. Comparing to the industrial North, South was agricultural and relied on slaves, which made Southern slave-owners especially cruel to their slaves and unwilling to support the abolitionist movement.


    Finally, in the conclusion section, you should restate your thesis, so that the readers remember it. Furthermore, you should briefly remind about the main points covered in your essay. The last sentence of conclusion has to be strong and include either a general summary of the essay or the implications for the related topics and issues.

    Introduction Phrases for Comparison & Contrast

    Without a doubt, linking phrases are important in the academic text. However, in compare and contrast essay they are even more important as they help the readers to trace the connection between both the points being made and the items being compared. Moreover, without these phrases, you will not be able to comprehend why this point differs from another one. In such a way, the whole work will lose its meaning and logic.

    That is why you should pay attention to the special introduction phrases for comparison and contrast that will add flow to your essay. As it was already mentioned before, contrasting two items means looking for the differences between them. Conversely, to compare means to discuss the common things in these items. Thus, the next phrases, linking devices, and constructions will come in handy when writing a compare and contrast essay.

    • On the one hand / on the other hand
    • Conversely
    • Similarly
    • On the contrary / in contrast
    • Comparing to / in comparison to
    • While item A was …, the item B was …

    Post-writing Tips

    Even though many people neglect the post-writing stage of any writing process, you should remember that this stage can significantly improve the quality of your text. As you go through your work a few times, you will be able to find major and minor mistakes. Thus, revising and editing your paper will both help to fix all the mistakes and even avoid them in the future.


    Revising is a long and complicated process of analyzing and fixing the paper as a whole. However, it is not recommended to start revising the paper immediately after you have finished it. Indeed, you should spend some time being involved in any other activity, so later you can focus on your work and analyze it adequately. First of all, you should check whether you have followed all the instructions to the assignment. For instance, it may deal with such aspects as a genre of the essay, organization, and even the word count. In addition, you should double-check whether your arguments are solid and supported by the relevant pieces of evidence. Among the other parts of the revising process are the number of sources used, proper in-text citations and references, and so on.


    Editing is the final stage of writing any paper. Although it is considered to be much easier than revising, this process also requires patience and attention. During editing your essay, you should focus on grammar and stylistics of your paper. That is, you should look through any suspiciously long sentences, and the sentence structure in general. It is also essential to fix any spelling mistakes and make sure that you did not miss any article. Finally, you should ensure that the text looks as it has to, with all the indenting, sections, headers, and so on. Fortunately, you can find numerous grammar and spelling checking services on the Internet, which will help you to polish your compare and contrast essay writing.

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