Home / Blog / How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay: Structure, Effective Outline & Pro Tips

It is very important to learn how to write a compare and contrast essay because it is the most common assignment assigned to students in the first year of college. By writing this essay type, students can improve their writing as well as critical thinking skills. This type of essay has a very clear purpose, such as clearing up misconceptions about any difficult topic or shedding light on a complicated idea. If your teacher asks you to write this essay and you don't know where to start, don't worry. Our detailed guide will help you to learn how to write a comparison essay. Moreover, if you are seeking a polished and well-researched essay without the hassle of writing it yourself, consider the option to buy a compare and contrast essay from Nerdpapers. It's a wise choice for students looking to elevate their academic performance.

What is a compare and contrast essay?

It is similar to other types of essays. In this essay, the writer compares the similarities and differences between the two subjects. It seems very simple, but the main key is to make connections between two subjects. A lot of planning is required to ensure that the writer has a complete understanding of both subjects. There are different ways to compare one topic with another, such as Venn diagrams and charts. 

How to structure a compare and contrast essay?

According to our expert essay writers, it's better to define a compare and contrast essay structure before writing begins. The structure is a template that helps you to keep on track throughout the writing process. Moreover, there are three ways to make your comparison essay structure. 

Ways to Structure Compare & Contrast Essay

Block method

In this method, you have to discuss the subjects one by one. Firstly, discuss one subject in complete detail, then move to the next one. This method is ideal for providing each subject with its own focus while significantly weakening the connection between the two. 
Your comparison and contrast essay body will look like this if you choose the block method or subject by subject method:

  • Introduction (topic, theme, and thesis statement)
  • Body paragraph #1 (Subject one)
    • 1st aspect
    • 2nd aspect
    • 3rd aspect
  • Body paragraph #2 (Subject two)
    • 1st aspect
    • 2nd aspect
    • 3rd aspect
  • Body paragraph #3
    • Make a comparison and explain why they're essential
    • Add real life examples

Alternative method

The second method is the alternative method, in which you have to structure your essay point by point. You discuss one subject's perspective on a certain aspect, followed immediately by the perspective of another subject, before moving on to another aspect. If you want to emphasize the connection between two subjects, then this approach is feasible. 
If you choose point by point method, then your essay will look like this:

  • Introduction (topic, theme, and thesis statement)
  • Subject #1
    • Argument #1
    • Argument #2
  • Subject #2
    • Argument #1
    • Argument #2

As you can see, by following this structure, you will review each topic by specific points in a single body paragraph rather than breaking them apart. The most important thing to keep in mind is that each paragraph should have a single main topic, and all of the points should be related to one another.

Commonalities and differences

You cover all of the similarities and then all of the differences between your subjects, or the reverse (differences first and then similarities). This approach is most effective when you want to concentrate on specific similarities or differences between your subjects or when you want to build to a shocking conclusion or reveal at the end.  
All these formats have their pros and cons. But the most simple method is the block method, where you simply point out all the information about both subjects and leave the comparison to the reader. 

Read also: “How to write a college essay

Outline for comparison and contrast essay

It would be a good idea to make a proper outline if you want to write an essay like a professional writer.


Are you wondering 'How to start a compare and contrast essay?' The best approach is to start with a concise, to-the-point, and clear introduction. Its opening paragraph is the same as other essays. You must ensure that your comparison essay introduction consists of the following main elements:

  • A strong hook statement that grabs the reader's attention and encourages them to read further. If your teacher has specified some guidelines, then follow them.  
  • The next step is to mention the subject that you're going to compare and contrast in the whole essay.
  • End your compare and contrast essay introduction with a clear thesis statement. 

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraph of comparison essays is completely different from other essay types. In this section, you have to focus on the topics which you're comparing or other countless factors. You will highlight the similarities and differences between the two subjects and why they matter. Additionally, the number of body paragraphs can vary depending on the word count requirement specified by your instructor. But if the essay length is not mentioned by the professor, then there should be at least 2-3 paragraphs in your essay. Must add a topic sentence to each paragraph. To give your paper a logical flow, you should use connectors like both, unlike, compared to, in contrast, and likewise. 

Compare and Contrast Essay Conclusion

Conclusion comes after writing the intro and body of the essay. The conclusion section should wrap up everything you discussed in the above sections. Write the summary of all the main points and restate your thesis statement. Briefly analyze the outcomes of your comparison essay and give a final evaluation. In the end, stress the importance of the overall subject. Moreover, give this section some extra thought. 

While comparison essays are essential in academic writing, don't overlook the significance of mastering other essay genres, including opinion essay writing. This can further enhance your writing skills and allow you to express your viewpoints effectively.

How to write a good compare and contrast essay: step by step guide

Do you know how to write a compare and contrast essay? Below are a few strategies that you must follow:

Steps to Write a Compare & Contrast Essay

Define your essay topic

Precisely select your topic. Maybe the topic you selected initially is too broad and isn't suitable for comparison. Narrow down your topic by doing some research. The most crucial thing to keep in mind while choosing essay topics is to choose two different subjects that can be compared easily. For example, you are comparing introverts and extroverts, online and traditional learning.

Research and brainstorming about the topic

After selecting the topic, do research to understand the topic. Brainstorm the similarities and differences the topics have. To ensure accuracy, look into and assess each of your two subjects independently. Next, create two lists, one for similarities and the other for the points that are different. In each list, jot down any ideas that come to your mind.
Making notes is definitely helpful, but if you're a visual learner, then it may be convenient for you to map out the ideas using graphic components. 

Start Writing

Write a solid introduction for your comparison and contrast essay. It should outline the topic that you will cover in your essay. Additionally, add the necessary background information, ideas, events, and other main points that you will discuss in the essay. It should be brief but accurate. 
Before developing a thesis statement, add a preview of your supporting arguments and facts. These facts will help the reader to understand the worth of your compare and contrasting essay topic. 

Develop a thesis statement

It is one of the most important parts of any essay. The basic purpose of a thesis statement is to formulate a focused argument. For example, the thesis could claim that the number of similarities is far more than the number of differences. It might also say that these two things are a bit same and a bit different. It also considers how entities relate to one another in light of differences or similarities that are found.
To make your statement strong, answer various questions such as "So what?" and "What makes you decide to compare these specific parties?"
Be careful to include some background information on your issue in your response to these questions. For instance, emphasize that the two main competing parties are the Democrats and the Republicans.

Choose your essay structure

One of the three types of structure mentioned earlier would be used to organize your essay. After deciding on a structure, create an outline. The introduction with a thesis statement and the conclusion are the two elements that never change, regardless of the format you chose.

Write main body

List the evidence and support it with citations. Begin a paragraph with a clear but succinct topic sentence that establishes one point of comparison (e.g., shape, appearance, etc.) against which your subjects will be compared. Next, briefly discuss each of your topics in relation to the selected point. 
Apply the same strategy to the other body paragraphs. In order to fully explore your subjects while maintaining the coherence and logic of your work, always remember to concentrate on one point of comparison per paragraph.


The conclusion helps the readers to understand the writer's point of view. The best essay conclusion reminds the reader about the thesis statement and key points of the essay. You also need to provide closing remarks.

Proofread your comparison essay

Once the final draft is read, read it several times to remove grammatical and punctuation mistakes. Follow the following steps to make your proofreading simple.

  • Set it aside for a few hours and then proofread it again.
  • Use modern spell checker and grammar tools.
  • Ask your friend or family member to review your essay to ensure that you haven't missed anything.

Helpful Tips

To make your essay shine, keep the following essay writing tips in mind.

  • Pick subjects that have a lot in common; otherwise, your essay will only be contrasting and not comparing. Subjects for compare and contrast essays typically have a close relationship, like two individuals in the same industry or two items in the same category. The reader is left thinking, "What's the point of comparing these two things?" in the absence of this connecting theme. It will not only confuse readers but it will also make it harder for you to write coherent paragraphs. Make wise choices about your subjects early on to solve these issues before they arise.
  • If you’re stuck on the introduction section, feel free to skip and jump directly to the body paragraphs. As you gather information and evidence for your essay, you might notice that a clear idea or perspective will naturally come to mind. This idea will help you understand how your essay's introduction and thesis statement should be written. It's a good practice to keep revising your thesis statement as you work on your essay, even after you finish writing. This is because, as you go along, you may find new information that makes your thesis statement stronger or more accurate. You might need to make small changes to your thesis to include this new information or to make it more complete and precise.
  • Once you select a structure, then follow it consistently. If not, an odd transition in the middle of a reader's experience is likely to leave them feeling unpleasant.
  • Using a template can make writing an outline or draft much easier (it can help with both structure and formatting).
  • Consider incorporating techniques used in writing an argumentative essay to strengthen your analysis and present your ideas convincingly
  • If you are free to choose a topic for a comparison essay but don't know where to begin, look into available sources online. These frequently contain hundreds of ideas organized by discipline.

Final Thoughts

Now, you have a clear understanding of how to write a compare and contrast essay. The structure of this essay is almost similar to other essays, but it gives the freedom to choose the structure of the body paragraphs. By following the above mentioned steps, you can generate an excellent essay. 

But not sure how to write? It's completely okay to get professional help. Our customer support team is active 24/7 to answer your queries and our analytical essay writers will ensure that your essay meets the highest standards of analysis and quality.

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