General Recommendations On How To Write A Compare And Contrast Essay

One of the most common types of papers that you’ll be assigned in middle school, high school, college, and even graduate school, is a compare and contrast essay. The objective of this kind of paper is fairly straightforward—you must show how two things are similar or different. Subjects could range from two books or poems, two events in history, two political candidates, or event two scientific theories.

Follow these simple general recommendations on how to write an excellent compare and contrast paper:

  • Pick good subjects
  • Once common mistake when writing compare and contrast papers is to pick two subjects that are very black and white—that are obvious opposites or are obviously very similar. While this might make it a bit easier to write your paper, it will be a much less interesting paper. Instead, when choosing your two subjects try to think of two things that people might not necessarily already associate with each other, either as being similar or different.

  • Think outside the box
  • In a compare and contrast paper it is perfectly acceptable to argue only that two things are similar, only that they are different, or that they are both different and similar. Try to think outside the box when deciding what to argue. Particularly if you are have two subjects that are already associated with each other in people’s minds. If you are writing about two subjects that most people think of as very similar, try to write instead about how they are different. This will help to make your paper much more interesting and original

  • Present your argument methodically
  • Like any argument-based essay, it is important to plan and present your argument very methodically. This will make for a better-written paper, and it will help your reader to follow what you are saying more easily. It is easy, when writing a compare and contrast paper, to jump back and forth between the subjects and create a confusing situation for your reader. Instead, present your argument logically and systematically. Two common organizational strategies for compare and contrast papers are to write about one subject extensively, then write about the other, pointing out similarities or differences. This will result in a paper with two main sections. The other strategy is to have each section be a similarity or difference between the two subjects. There is no right or wrong approach, you should simply pick the one that is the best match for your subjects.