How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

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Writing Advice for College Students

Author Bio: Bill Dacey


Before you jump into writing this type of essays, you must first understand what does compare and contrast mean.Compare and contrast essay means that the writer has to compare the differences and similarities between two or more items. You can be requested to compare two theories, positions on an issue, literary texts, opinions of other people etc. The concept of comparison is derived from ‘compare’ in the context of essay writing it mainly refers to the similarities while the concept of contrasting is derived from ‘contrast’ meaning the differences. Therefore, for these types of essays, you must have similarities and differences of the two issue you are debating. This article will highlight the important steps and tips on how to write a compare and contrast essay.

Carefully read on the items you are writing on

You must understand the concepts you will be comparing and contrasting. Some comparison and contrasting articles you may find at, read on them as you make notes. Start by understanding their difference even from their definition. You cannot write about concepts you do not understand and therefore extensive reading on the items to be compared and contrasted is very critical. As you read, you get a better understanding of what makes the items analogous and what sets them apart. If you do not read your work will be of very low quality and likely featuring inaccurate points. Don’t gamble with your grades, so read extensively to understand what creates the difference and you will have an easier time explaining the concepts.

Make a list of the key similarities and differences in your texts.

As you read, make sure you make notes which detail or highlight the key similarities and differences. For differences, make sure you highlight the most distinguishable differences. Vague differences or points lower the quality of your work. Therefore, identify the strong points which can help you earn points and note them down.

You can draw a table with two columns and on each side put the main differences between the two items. The table helps to organize the points and easily identify the contrasting elements at a glance. In some cases, these essays are handed in a table format and all you have to do is to refine the points and as you perfect the essay due for submission. However, if you decide to organize your essay in prose format, then reading the points from a table is easier.

Isolate the most important points and turn them into your central argument.

There main points need to be written down first and explained in detail. These points give the reader the illusion that the whole essay is packed with strong points. Start with these strong points and add the weaker points later if necessary and or you have not met the essay requirements. If possible, you can leave them out altogether and focus on the central ideas that help you explicate the differences and similarities. Include the weaker points only as a measure to lengthen your essay or to meet the requirements.

Write an outline

Before diving into the writing, put down an outline which will guide you through writing the essay. Compare and contrast essays use the standard essay outline template which has an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs and conclusion. For a standard essay, have six paragraphs; one for the introduction, two for differences, two for similarities and the last one featuring the conclusion. For the introductory paragraph, ensure you feature a thesis statement which outlines the purpose of the essay. You must understand how to write a thesis for a compare and contrast essay to ensure it achieves the desired objective relative to the essay content and the readers.  For your final writing, you can decide to add more content to the outline to make it a rough draft which you can perfect to become the final essay. For the body, paragraph ensure each paragraph details a single point and

Fill in textual details to write your essay.

Slightly explain each item (the ones you are comparing and contrasting) such that the reader understands them before you get into highlighting their differences and similarities.For each body paragraph, ensure it only features a single point which s well explained. Start the paragraph with a topic sentence which highlights the main idea discussed in that paragraph then add a few support sentences. Use the conjunction: while, whereas etc to show the differences between the paragraphs which discuss differences. Use both to describe the similar points common to both items. Ensure you also support your essay with the sources you read. Include citations and quotations and cite them appropriately to avoid plagiarism.


Proofreading an essay is an important step which if overlooked can lower the quality of your essay and or loss of marks. Proofreading ensures that any grammatical and or punctuation errors areidentified and rectified. You also check the coherence, clarity and substance f each point. You trim any unnecessary wording and ensure the points are clear. It is not a must you proofread your work, you can enlist help from, your parents, friends, classmates and or even relatives to ensure the content is relevant, clear and error-free.  If you must proofread it yourself, take a rent or a slightly longer break to revisit the essay later when you are fresh.


Concisely, the afore-described tips only give the standard approach to writing compare and contrast essay. Some different types of items for comparison may necessitate a slight modification to the afore-described approach and or even professor’s instructions. Finally, if you do not understand how to write down these types of essay, please practice by finding compare and contrast essay example topics and write on them as you perfect your writing skill.

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