Compare And Contrast Essay Outline: An Easy Guide

Being a student means not only partying 24/7, but it also means working hard on projects, studying a lot to actually learn something, and writing term papers. A lot of assignments. One of the types that is widely popular is compare and contrast essay. It is also among the most confusing ones. To put it simply, compare and contrast format, which is also sometimes referred as contrast comparison essay, is used to research, explore, and evaluate both similarities and differences of the things that belong to one category, possess similarities, or differences, or both. This guide offers a concise compare and contrast essay outline that will help you to put your ideas most logically.

How to Choose the Approach for Compare and Contrast Essay Outline?

There are two commonly used organizational patterns of compare and contrast paper: point-by-point outline and block pattern. How to know which one to use? Point-by-point outline follows the principle of organization by criteria, whereas the block pattern is organization by item. When choosing the correct outline for compare and contrast essay format, one should keep several things in mind. Ask yourself: are the items or concepts similar, different, or have a bit of both? Below is a scheme to follow depending on your answer.    

Want to Create a Point-by-Point Outline for Your Essay? 

Point-by-point pattern works better for items that are rather similar, and we evaluate them against the particular criteria (1 criterion -1 point). Each point will have a name of the criteria (thesis statement), a paragraph about one item, and a paragraph about the other one regarding this criterion. Let’s say, we need to write about 2 smartphones of different manufacturers. In this case, the criteria could be price, onboard memory, number of sim-card slots, camera characteristics, operational system, etc.

Structurally, it will look like this:

Introduction (specific topic, main thesis statement)

Part 1 / Point 1 (topic sentence / criterion 1)

  • Manufacturer 1 (detail 1,2,3…)
  • Manufacturer 2 (detail 1,2,3…)

Part 2 / Point 2 (topic sentence / criterion 2)

  • Manufacturer 1 (detail 1,2,3…)
  • Manufacturer 2 (detail 1,2,3…)

Part 3 / Point 3 (topic sentence / criterion 3)

  • Manufacturer 1 (detail 1,2,3…)
  • Manufacturer 2 (detail 1,2,3…)

Conclusion (summary or opinion based on discussed information)

What’s the Block Pattern Essay?

When the items/things/people discussed are different, the organization by criteria won’t work well. In this case, choose a block pattern for your comparative analysis essay. Each body paragraph (block) will discuss the peculiarities of one item, which will make your text easier to read. Have a look at the block pattern outline.

Introduction (specific topic, main thesis statement)

Part 1 / Item  1 (topic sentence)

  • Detail 1
  • Detail 2
  • Detail 3...

Part 2 / Item  2 (topic sentence)

  • Detail 1
  • Detail 2
  • Detail 3...

(if needed) Part 3 / Item 3 (topic sentence)

  • Detail 1
  • Detail 2
  • Detail 3...

Conclusion (summary,  opinion or solution (if needed) based on provided information)

How to Structure Compare and Contrast Paper?

Now that you have two organizational patterns and variety of compare and contrast essay topics to choose from, what should be stated in each part of compare and contrast essay? Typically, any paper has an introduction, main body (with 3-5 paragraphs), and a conclusion. Let’s see the breakdown for each of them.

This is the lead-in part of your compare and contrast essay outline. Here you should include an intro to the topic, the items that you are going to evaluate, and the thesis statement aka the main idea of why you are writing this paper. We recommend dealing with it after you’re done with the whole paper so you’ll be able to keep it short, simple, and more engaging.

Comparison and Contrast Essay Paragraphs

Depending on the structure, you might write a compare and contrast essay in a different way but you’ll always have some similarities/differences to discuss. We mention similarities in compare paragraphs, we mention differences in contrast paragraphs. Don’t forget to use transition words as they will arrange your text in an easily readable way.   

How to compare Paragraphs?

If you need to explore similarities of several items, you are comparing them according to particular criteria. Take the mentioned mobile phones example. What is similar in those models? They might have same display characteristics, or OS, or features. This is the part where you deal with them, so think of it as of a comparative essay part.

How to contrast paragraphs?

This part of contrast essay revolves around the differences of the discussed items/people. Same smartphone example. You can mention here the different OS platform and provide the argument which suits best for particular needs. Or if any has more onboard memory, how this difference can impact the functionality or user experience. Whatever point you’d like to discuss, always opt for explaining their importance with regard to the items, and use connectors or transition words for an easy flow.

Finishing a compare and contrast essay

So you’re officially done with all body paragraphs, now it’s a conclusion time. Summarize in 3-6 sentences the whole point of your work, briefly mention similarities/differences, and write your opinion or provide the solution to the topic. Remember, this part should be connected to your main thesis from the introduction, not contradict it.  

Compare and contrast essay is, indeed, amongst the most tricky ones to write. However, by following this simple outline and 3-5 paragraph structure, you have better chances to create an informative, easily-readable piece. The best part? We are always here to help you with it, 24/7! So maybe you think about going to that pool party next week?

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