It’s paralyzing. Moving forward seems impossible, and self-doubt creeps in. You feel like a lost puppy, unsure of what to do next.
When writer’s block strikes, it can be doggone demoralizing. But the good news is that an outline is your best friend for getting organized and ready to write.
In this post, I’ll show you how to develop a compare and contrast essay outline that lets you kick writer’s block to the curb and craft a structurally sound essay about anything.
Let’s start with making sure everyone’s on the same page about what makes up a compare and contrast essay. Ready?
What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?In the simplest terms, a compare and contrast essay takes two subjects (i.e., objects, events, people, or places)—closely related or vastly different—and focuses on what about them is the same or what’s different or focuses on a combination of similarities and differences.
It’s not, however, just a simple comparison – that’d be too easy, right?
It must serve a larger purpose by doing one of the following:
- State something unknown.
- Clear up a misunderstanding.
- Show that one thing is superior to another.
- Lead to a new way of doing/seeing/understanding something.
- Argue a point with supported facts.
There are several formats for writing a compare and contrast essay, but I’ll use point-by-point organization to make my outline.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: Point-by-Point Organization
The point-by-point comparison focuses on comparing and contrasting one aspect about both subjects at the same time.
It’s typically easier for readers to follow this structure. It provides a clear, easy-to-follow structure. To keep things simple, I’ll use a 5-paragraph essay structure to create a compare and contrast essay outline.
The outline consists of three parts:
- Body Paragraphs
- The first difference between subjects
- The second difference between subjects
- The third difference between subjects
Now that you have the basic structure down, let’s break down the components using my two favorite four-legged beasts: Molly and Morgan.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: Introduction
The introduction is where you introduce your topic both in broad and specific terms. It’s also where make your thesis statement. The thesis statement provides the main point of or ideas within your essay.
The introduction has three key elements. I’ll go through each separately.
1. Introduction to the main topic
To introduce your main topic, you ideally want to start with a hook sentence and then detail the specifics of the topic itself.
Comparing and contrasting Morgan and Molly, my opening lines to introduce the topic might read something like this:
“Do opposites really attract? The law of attraction says they do, but is this phenomenon limited to humans? It’s definitely not, nor is it limited to romantic relationships. Dogs with drastically different personalities and habits form close attachments all the time.”
2.Specific subjects to compare and contrast
Next you need to identify who or what you’re comparing and contrasting specifically under the main topic and theme.
The next lines in my introduction might look something like this:
“The dogs in my household, while similar in many ways simply because they’re dogs, are vastly different creatures. Molly is a 70-pound bully who likes to pounce, lick, and paw at canines and humans until she gets her way. Morgan, on the other hand, is a 50-pound sweetheart who is content with whatever is going on. Despite their differences, the two dogs are strongly attached to one another.”
3. Thesis statement
Finally, to wrap up your intro, you want to express the specific aspects you’re comparing and contrasting. This provides a clear idea of where your essay is going.
My thesis statement focuses on three specific habits/characteristics of my rambunctious dogs. It might be something like this:
“Most notably, Molly and Morgan differ in how they accessorize, what their favorite toys are, and how they deal with downtime, yet the two have a strong bond as ‘sisters’ who cuddle at every opportunity.”
Whew! The introduction is often the toughest part. It’s where you’ll lay out the structure of your essay. (For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to write the introduction last.) Since that’s done, we’ll move on to Part B, the body paragraphs.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: The Body Paragraphs
Since I’m focusing on just three aspects about Molly and Morgan, I’ll have three body paragraphs. Under the point-by-point organization for a compare and contrast essay outline, you’ll need as many paragraphs as the number of aspects you’re comparing and contrasting.
Each paragraph will have a topic sentence focused on the aspect you’re comparing and contrasting. Each paragraph will also have two details about each subject as they relate to the aspect:
Body paragraph #1
The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence of my first paragraph might look like this:
Aspect #1 – Topic sentence: “The first difference between Molly and Morgan is the way they accessorize; while both are budding fashionistas, each of the girls has her own personal style.”
If you can ignore their cuteness (yup, I’m biased, but you have to admit they’re pretty adorable, right?), we’ll dive into the two details for each dog. My detail sentences might look like this:
Subject #1: Molly
- Detail #1: “Molly takes the sporty approach and is perfectly content with her owner’s baseball cap firmly on her head.”
- Detail #2: “Her choice in headwear is indicative of the brute, in-your-face interactions with her sister and owners.”
Subject #2: Morgan
- Detail #1: “On the other hand, Morgan prefers the downhome, classic country look of a bandana.”
- Detail #2: “Her accessory preference speaks to her humble, attention-loving and passive demeanor.”
See how easy crafting a paragraph is when you break it down?
You could write paragraphs in your sleep now, right? No? Okay, let’s do the same thing for the second and third body paragraphs.
Body paragraph #2
Aspect #2 – Topic sentence: “Another difference between the girls is their favorite toys; even though they are both equally protective of their favorites, their choices contradict their personalities.”
Subject #1: Molly
- Detail #1: “Molly prefers to cuddle up with her favorite stuffed animal (which changes over time as she eats them).”
- Detail #2: “She often can be found protectively cuddling the stuffed animal in her sleep and making sure her owners give it plenty of love, too, by pushing the drool-covered plush in their faces at any opportunity.”
Subject #2: Morgan
- Detail #1: “Conversely, Morgan prefers the traditional rawhide bone.”
- Detail #2: “She will growl, snarl, and bare teeth to protect it from anyone (even her owners!).”
Two body paragraphs down – only one to go. If you’re struggling, just take a breather.
Take your time, and work through the outline one section at a time if you need to.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your compare and contrast essay outline doesn’t have to be either (unless you’re a procrastinator).
Body paragraph #3:
Now we’ll look at my third body paragraph. The final body paragraph wraps up the last aspect identified in the thesis. Mine might be constructed something like this:
Aspect #3 – Topic Sentence: “The final difference between the two pups is how they deal with downtime, more specifically, their ability to just chill while ignoring (or not ignoring) distractions.”
Subject #1: Molly
- Detail #1: “Molly isn’t content unless she’s getting attention, even if that attention is simply having a warm human body next to her; she’s frequently found flopping on the couch looking pensive and bored out of her pay-attention-to-me-now-or-I-will-lick-your face-endlessly mind.
- Detail #2: “While it’s sometimes possible to catch a photo-op with her sandwiched between pillows wearing a pleading look, breaking out the camera usually produces a face-licking attack before the shot is even focused.”
Subject #2: Morgan
- Detail #1: “Morgan, however, handles downtime differently. Perfectly content without constant attention, Morgan takes it as an opportunity to curl up and catch some ZZZs.”
- Detail #2: “A heavy sleeper who snores and runs in her sleep while dreaming of chasing squirrels, Morgan is happy sleeping for hours and is undisturbed by camera flashes and clicks.”
That’s it. The body paragraphs are complete. Not so bad, was it?
While I had three body paragraphs, your outline might have only two. Or it might have five. It depends on the number of points you’re comparing and contrasting.
Now we’re ready to wrap things up with the conclusion.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: ConclusionHot diggity dog! If you’ve made it this far, you’re in the home stretch—developing the conclusion of your compare and contrast essay outline.
The conclusion is the easiest part. You’ve already set the stage for it with your thesis statement and body paragraphs. It’s just a matter of putting it all together while focusing on three areas:
1. Summary of main points
First, you want to summarize your main points. It’s more than a simple summary, though. You want to synthesize your thesis with the information in your body paragraphs.
I might summarize with a few sentences like this:
“In conclusion, these three aspects clearly show how Molly and Morgan go about their doggy lives in different ways. While Molly likes to accessorize with baseball caps, cuddle with stuffed animals, and sit around looking bored, Morgan prefers rawhide bones, relaxing solo, and sleeping contently whenever she can.”
Next, you want to evaluate what you’ve discussed or talk about possible future developments.
This is where you show the greater purpose of your topic. Your conclusion should answer one question: What does it all mean?
As you work on this part, keep in mind that your conclusion should bring things full circle to your introduction.
My compare and contrast essay outline requires just focusing on an evaluation.
My evaluation sentences might look something like this:
“In some ways, the differences parallel their personalities—Molly as a brute and Morgan as a sweetheart. The differences also show how both dogs sometimes stray from their normal behavior, notably through how they interact with their favorite toys. Taken collectively, however, their differences don’t stop the law of attraction from coming into play. Though they like a different look, like to play with different toys, and like to relax differently, they adore each other and cuddle up together at every opportunity.”
Finally, you need to show the significance of the differences. What was your end goal in showing the differences? (Hint: Refer back to your introduction and thesis statement if you’re stuck here.)
I might use one sentence to show the significance, tie everything back to the intro, and create finality all in one swoop by writing something like this:
“This shows that opposites really do attract—even among canines.”
Download Template for Your Own Compare and Contrast Outline
Have your own compare and contrast essay to write? Make the process easier, and banish writer’s block by downloading this compare and contrast essay outline in MS Word or PDF format to get started.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template (.doc)
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template (PDF)
Whether you’re ready to write or still flushing out your topic, using an outline keeps you on-task. It keeps you on-topic to create a logical, easy-to-follow format.
Additional Help for Your Compare and Contrast Essay Outline
Still struggling? Try reading some completed example compare and contrast essays. If that doesn’t work or you’re still feeling a bit unsure, read more about this type of essay.
Finally, don’t forget about editing and proofreading! Even the best writers make mistakes or have difficulty recognizing weak points in their own writing.
If you’re aiming to put your best paw—err draft—forward, have one of our talented Kibin editors edit your essay for grammar, logic, clarity, and flow.
Write on, and best of luck!
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
It is always a big question for beginner writers how to write a compare and contrast essay.
Briefly talking, you just need to learn that classic five-paragraph essay format and compare two subjects in the body section of your paper.
If you want to learn more, just proceed reading and get few interesting compare and contrast essay topics as a bonus.
ORDER A WINNING COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY
7 Tips on How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
Compare and contrast essay is, as we said before, a simple and interesting paper format to deal with. The main idea lies right on the surface and its name talks for itself. You need to compare two subjects that sometimes are absolutely unrelated to each other. You need to analyze both things and come up with a conclusion. Your text may be a search for some solution of a broader problem or just describe a particular aspect. Compare and contrast essay writing can be divided into seven main stages:
- Stage 1: Get yourself a topic
- Stage 2: Create an outline
- Stage 3: Introduce the topic
- Stage 4: Start with the body paragraphs
- Stage 5: Identify the main contrast between subjects
- Stage 6: The conclusion
- Stage 7: Editing and revising
One of the most important stages of your writing would be the introduction where you should present your clear thesis statement. You should come with few thesis statements at once and then choose the best one you can handle. And just after that part is done you can start with the real comparison and composition.
If you would ever ask an experienced writer about successful writing tips, he will tell you that the deal is about your experience and knowledge. Our experts will tell you absolutely the same, but after teaching you how to write a compare and contrast essay. Let’s start with five paragraph paper.
How to Write Compare and Contrast Essay Outline
Any paper should have its outline. It is a must if you want your writing process to be easier and clear. It is great to be able to write from scratch the whole paper, but the working process will flow easier if you create an outline. Compare and contrast essay outline is nothing different from any other outlines people write for another type of articles.
If the topic you are working with is exciting for you, we are sure it is absolutely easy to work with it. But you should note that it is still important to be competent on the topic you are writing about. Or you are risking of getting blocked by bad knowledge of your topic and inability to develop the idea as it should be.
Here is how a typical outline should look for subject by subject comparison:
- Presentation of the general topic
- Your specific topic and clue
- Your main goals you’re trying to reach in this very essay
- Subject 1 – three or more aspects with detailed descriptions.
- Subject 2 – three or more aspects with detailed descriptions.
- A short list of main results.
- Possible future development, solution or evaluation.
And for the outline, try to feel free with your writing. Just get those marks you want to include into your paper with no doubt. There can be lots of those ideas and while writing and editing some of them may fall off. It is normal and even necessary if too many ideas you have. And remember that organization is a key to your comfortable working process. And the good organization is the key to your successful work.
A compare and contrast essay example:
How to Write Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction
Compare and contrast essay introduction is no different from any other introduction you may have already done or read before. The principles you used for your definition essay are absolutely the same for your compare and contrast paper. It should be just one paragraph long.
- Do it brief and striking.
- Identify the main idea behind your theme.
- Synchronize it with your outline.
- You may write this part the last one to get a good connection with a conclusion.
Any good introduction is just a perfect start. And it means you need to make it convincing and strong no matter how conflicting your topic is. It should be clear and understandable for any type of a reader. You can get some interesting info on the topic you are writing about. Some writers prefer asking questions that make their readers involved from the start. If you decide to ask a question, don’t forget to hint at the answer in the next part of your paper.
Writing of Compare and Contrast Essay Example of Body Paragraphs
The next part is the body. Those paragraphs are the main place for the comparison and the story you are going to tell. And with your starting draft, you need to list and describe all the ideas you have in your outline. Just use everything you can remember from the topic you are working with.
Each paragraph of the body gives the reader exact description and analysis of the subject. And then it offers a comparison of those two subjects based on those previously described features. Here is how the body section may look like if you use a classic three paragraphs in body section style:
Similar marks vs. Difference
- 1st paragraph in the body section is going to tell about similar marks of both your topic masters.
- 2nd paragraph of the body will talk about all those parts that are different.
- 3rd paragraph talks about the place both subjects get in the field covered by the topic.
A subject vs. B subject
- 1st describes the A subject and tells about its features
- 2nd paragraph of the body tells about the B subject of your paper and gives a strong analysis of its features.
- 3rd paragraph compares and analyzes both subjects.
Each paragraph and we have three of them in this part, should be researched separately and consciously. Don’t pay too much attention to the difference between the facts, but the topic you are writing about. And to make your paper absolutely high level, you need to get even deeper than you can and another writer usually so. Try to find something that is completely unknown and make discoveries if it is possible.
How to Write Compare and Contrast Essay Conclusion
Some students make their writing mistakes just at the very end of their papers. Compare and contrast essay conclusion is the place where you may just get into a serious trouble, and it is great to keep it in mind before subscribing your work as the finished one. Some experts say that this final paragraph is even more important than the introduction. We must say that this is totally true.
In your introduction, you present the subject and make the first impression. And here you need to make the final strike and convince your reader that you are right. And it will be the last words you can write about the entire thing. Don’t make it sound just like a simple summary, but convincing and ripe position. Don’t forget to make few references to the body paragraphs of your text. Here are few basic tips you need to keep in mind:
- Answer the question "So What?"
- Synthesize, don't summarize
- Redirect your readers
- Create a new meaning
Winning Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
You need to understand that well-written compare and contrast essay example is just a half of your way to success. Correct and interesting compare and contrast essay topics are another part you need to reckon with. Here is the list of topics you can suggest for the start:
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for College Students
- Apple vs. Microsoft
- Christianity vs. Islam
- Trump vs. Obama
- North Korea vs. South Korea
- Analog vs. Digital
- Electricity vs. Petroleum
- Communism vs. Capitalism
- Hydropower stations vs. Solar power stations
- Nuclear Power vs. Solar Power
- Red wine vs. Beer
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for High School
- Contemporary art vs. Classic art
- Rome Empire vs. Nazi Germany
- Monarchy vs. Democracy
- Meat eater vs. Vegans
- Jesus vs. Buddha
- England Colonies vs. French or Spanish Colonies
- Game of Thrones vs. Lord of the rings
- Ancient China vs. Japan
- Saltwater life vs. Freshwater life
- Greek Mythology vs. Roman Mythology
- 1914 vs. 1939
- Godfather vs. The Sopranos
- Rock vs. Pop
Compare and Contrast Topics for Middle School
- Pacific ocean vs. Atlantic ocean
- Plastic vs. Wood
- School vs. College
- Mozart vs. Bach
- Comedy vs. Drama
- Chinese language vs. Korean language
- Rap vs. Metal
- English vs. German
- Daytona vs. F-1
- Theatre vs. Classical Music
- Children vs. Adults
- Math vs. Literature
- Physics vs. Chemistry
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for 6th Grade
- Fanta vs. Sprite
- Father vs. Mother
- Dogs vs. Cats
- Darth Vader vs. Sauron
- Medieval knights vs. Samurais
- Shark vs. Orca
- Mammals vs. Birds
- Lions vs. Tigers
- Watercolor vs. Oil
- Airplanes vs. Cars
- Subway vs. Railway
- Apples vs. Pears
- Batman vs. Shadow
- Football vs. Basketball
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How to Write a 5 Paragraph Compare and Contrast Essay
If you don’t know how to write a 5 paragraph compare and contrast essay, we should calm you down, it is simpler than it seems. The format of five paragraph paper considers 1 to 3 to 1 scheme where intro and conclusion have one paragraph and the body has three. But with this type of articles, you are free to experiment and to get something really unique.
Five paragraph format is a classic way to deal with most essays out there. No matter what topic do you have, this format will fit it perfectly. Writers often call it a subject to subject style. Its scheme would look like this:
- 1 paragraph – to present the topic
- 3 paragraphs – to identify and describe features of the subjects
- 1 paragraph – to make a summary
You can create an article with four or six paragraphs just using the proper scheme of mixing those paragraphs. It also depends on the outline you have created before starting writing. And we will tell you how to write a proper article with just two or three paragraphs in the body section.
Every good paper should start somewhere. And to start, you need to understand that this type of essays is about similarities and differences of two sometimes absolutely unrelated things. And don’t let the word comparison confuse you. It is not just about listing similar and different features of two subjects. It is more about discovering new aspects and revealing information that can be new to your reader.
And at the end of it all here are few great tips you should keep in your mind:
- Make your title encouraging
A successful paper always has a good title. It is sharp, brief, and to the core. It can be a question or complex type of a sentence, but it should strike and hit all the aspects of your topic and the problem you are going to define in your paper.
Don’t be afraid to stop and reload. It is important if you write a big paper and your thoughts are already messed around. It would give you a chance to see your work with a fresh eye even if you were resting for an hour.
Both of these things are crucial. A successful article can’t be completed without editing reviewing. Check every aspect of its grammar and structure. Make it flow smoothly. This makes the entire paper sound more diverse and interesting. But don’t just compare two subjects. Get few convincing contrasts between them. Yes, don’t forget that it is not just a compare essay but contrast also.
Students often get confused because of this type of papers. There are lots of other hard to deal with tasks, but this one makes you feel like it is simple from the start. But it may fool you around with that fake simplicity. Sometimes it gets very difficult to compare two unrelated subjects and find those not so obvious contrasts between them. Start writing and you see that ides don’t come easy. It is challenging, and you should be prepared for this. And if you still have any doubts about any aspects of this task, our professional team is here to help you 24/7. Just place an order or ask for help in any other comfortable way and we will be there with our skills, experience, and respect.