The Best Way to Write an Outline for a Compare and Contrast Essay

Nowadays written assignments are an important part of everyday life not depending whether you are a student or a professional writer. That is why being able to complete a great essay not only influences your grades but also your salary and professional success.


An essay is the most common written assignment, which aims to research, analyze and evaluate a certain issue or matter. Depending on the type of skills a tutor wants to check, there are multiple essay types: argumentative, narrative, compare and contrast essays, and much more.


Not depending on the type of essay you are going to complete, half of the success depends on its proper structure or an outline. That is why we have created this article and gathered all the necessary information you need to know on an essay outline.


The best way to write an outline for a compare and contrast essay


Outline of a compare and contrast essay


As you understand from its name, a compare and contrast essay is a paper, which compares and contrasts certain subjects, matters or even events. Aims of this task include:


  • To show that one matter is better than another;
  • To describe misunderstandings;
  • To provide a fresh outlook on the subject;
  • To give the reader information on a certain topic;
  • To work with credible and scholarly sources, and provide arguments on the topic.


Depending on your goals, subjects and aspirations, there are two methods to create a proper outline for your paper.



Organizing by criteria


This pattern is also known as a point-by-point method and is used to complete an outline, when the items you compare are alike or when you need to evaluate only a couple of points. Here is a regular pattern, which is used to create a point-by-point outline:


  • Here you should provide a thesis statement and introduce the reader to the matters that will be compared;
  • Paragraphs, for example 1,2 and 3. Always start with a topic sentence and then write details to support your idea, argument or fact. Every paragraph should have its own topic sentence;
  • Summarize thoughts, presented in the paper and write why your comparison and contrast are important. If possible, make prognosis for the future.


Organizing by items


This type of outline organization is sometimes called a block method and is applied, when described issues are completely different or you have a big number of criteria to discuss. In such cases a point-by-point method doesn’t work at all and can be considered absolutely ineffective.


The main aim of such a method is to make the paper readable, so here is how an outline of such compare and contrast essay looks like:


  • As usual, you need to give a general look at the subject and provide a thesis statement;
  • Their number may differ depending on the quantity of arguments you need to discuss. Each paragraph should start with an item and continue with a number of points this item consists of;
  • Give a summary of your topic and make predictions for the future, explaining how your comparison or contrast may influence the industry.


Another way of structuring an essay, using the block method, is to make two separate paragraphs: one for comparison and one of contrasts. Once you have chosen a pattern to use, you can start with completing the essay.




Introduction section is usually the same, not depending whether you are writing a descriptive or a compare and contrast essay.  In this section, you need to give the reader an overall idea of your paper and discussed matters. Try to introduce the audience to the items, events or definitions you are going to compare and contrast. Here are the features of an introduction section:


  • Always start with the hook. It will intrigue the reader and will make him go on reading. Depending on the subject, it can be a joke, a quote or a question you are going to examine;
  • Write down the subjects you are going to compare and contrast. It won’t sound right if you simply start describing similarities and differences of the subjects, so it is necessary to give their general definition and your motives;
  • Complete a thesis statement. You need to close your introduction with a sentence or two on the main aim of the whole paper. Be brief and give only relevant information on the topic, without watery and meaningless texts.


Once your introduction is ready, you can start working on body paragraphs.


Body paragraphs


There are no restrictions on how many paragraphs your main section should contain. Everything depends on the quantity of issues and points you want to discuss in your essay. For example, two criteria will require two paragraphs, three criteria – three, and so on.  In some cases, you will be given a certain amount of such issues to discuss but most of the times you will need to choose them yourself depending on the main goal of your essay.


If you don’t know how many criteria to include, just take a blank piece of paper and write down all the similarities and differences of the issue. Then choose those, which you want to discuss. However, you should limit such items to maximum three or four not to bore the reader and to be able to concentrate on a specific topic.


Here are the questions, which may help you to decide which criteria are important for your work and which are not necessary at all:


  • Does it have anything to do with the subject I am studying?
  • What matters am I given?
  • What will make my essay interesting and useful?
  • What is relevant to my course?


Not depending on the issue you are studying, you need to start every body paragraph with a topic sentence. It aims to give a reader information on the thing, matter or event you want to compare or contrast. Then you need to give all the details on your research, backing with relevant information and all the necessary data.


Remember that every issue you compare and contrast, should not only contain your personal opinion but also be backed with academic papers, researches and various credible sources. Moreover, you should always stay objective and give a side-glance on all the similarities and differences of the subject. It is not right to give the reader a chance to understand what side you are on.


In addition, it will be useful to add connections to the text to make it smooth and readable. For example: Likewise, both, thus, nevertheless, compared to, same as, as well as, however, in contrast and so on.


write an outline for a compare and contrast essay




When you have completed an introductory section and body paragraphs, you will find it quite simple to complete your conclusions, as you already know what to write about. However, there are still some secrets you need to keep in mind:


  • Summarize key points. Start your conclusions with rephrasing all the key points you have learned throughout your essay. They need to correspond with your body paragraphs;
  • Give an evaluation. It is important to make predictions and analyze what you have learned. You can also provide different solutions depending on the topic you choose;
  • Importance of the research. It is necessary not only to explain why your topic is important but also to give the reader a chance to see why a compare and contrast essay gives a full understanding of your topic.


When writing is completed


Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself with completing such a difficult assignment. However, don’t rush to your tutor to deliver it, as there are a few things you need to do before submitting it. Spend some time on editing and proofreading your essay to make sure it has no mistakes or unnecessary parts.


Some students think that typos are not important and neglect this important stage, willing to save time. However, the reader will easily distract from your essay, when seeing mistakes in the text and it may result in lower grades. Read your essay over and over again to make sure there are no grammar or lexical mistakes in the text.


You can feel the temptation of downloading a software to check your mistakes or do it online but it will do you no good, because such programs don’t have a critical approach. Yes, you can use them as the first step but afterwards you need to check everything yourself. A great solution is to ask your relatives or friends to read your compare and contrast essay to see whether there are some mistakes left.


Finally, complete references if you have forgotten about them and submit the essay to your professor!



Closing thoughts


A compare and contrast essay is more than just a paper, which aims to evaluate a certain subject. Here you need to analyze two different items, events or matters and back everything with credible data. We hope that our article helped you to understand how to complete such a difficult task and you won’t experience any difficulties, when completing it.


Just follow our guidelines step by step and you will definitely write an outstanding compare and contrast essay.

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