How to Write a Comparison Essay: Tips and Outline

How to Write a Comparison Essay: Tips and Outline

Published by on 2021-04-22 15:11:56

So you need to write a comparison paper. That’s a rather common assignment to have in high school or college. Usually, such a task is given to test your analytical skills. You have to take at least two items and give them a thorough analysis while comparing them to each other. The variety of subjects can serve as a topic for this assignment. You can pick texts, scientific theories, similar historical events, political leaders, and much more. You have to contrast those subjects by finding similarities and differences.

Facing an assignment like this one, you have to ask yourself not how to write a comparison paper but how to approach the comparison. Unless you are given direct instructions, you’ll have to come up with themes, main concerns, and the basis for the analysis on your own. You will need to learn how to find the right parameters and how to write a conclusion for a comparative essay. It is not an easy job.

Fortunately, you can count on some help. So here are some tips on how to do a comparison essay and an outline in a few simple steps.

What Is a Comparison Essay

Whenever you think about how to write a comparative essay, you better learn about the nature of such assignments first. The purpose of this assignment is to contrast two or more subjects. To do so, a student needs to find the common ground of these subjects, learn about the specifics of both subjects, and offer an analysis of similarities and differences.

The most exciting thing is that you must focus on critical thinking and explain your point of view. But there are a few crucial points that you shouldn't forget:

  • choose your topic very carefully;
  • do not deviate from key requirements;
  • match subjects only in the context of your research;
  • pay attention only to the most important factors.

Critical thinking is essential for students. This is why professors often assign such papers. You should not be afraid that you may not be able to cope with something. But let's not stay ashore too long.

What Should a Comparison Essay Identify?

Why do you need to do such a task? What is the main goal? Typically, you will focus on the crucial parameters or ideas. Let's say you need to take Windows and Mac laptops as a basis. These devices have a lot in common, the same tasks and a similar set of functions. But what if we dig deeper? How long can a rabbit hole be? If you concentrate on the differences and other options, it concerns the peculiarities of operating systems, the format of distribution and advertising, and the components. Based on this, you will have to form key aspects.

How to Write a Good Comparison Essay?

The funniest thing is that newbies don't know where to start. Nevertheless, such a task is quite simple. Here are some easy steps to help you get through your essay. All you need to do is follow the list.

Brainstorming Is a Must

Examine the two subjects and select all the distinguishing qualities. You need to focus on the characteristics and those factors that trigger emotions. For your assignment to be well written, you need to take care of the topic selection. The fact is that some professors allow students to determine their subjects independently. This means that you need to spend a little time on really interesting things.

Don’t rush to start comparison essay writing right away. Take a pause and really think about the topic and your options here. Remember that a topic only gives you an area to work in, but not any specifics on the assignment itself. Hence, you still have to develop a unique approach, come up with the theme and thesis statement.

Also, never confuse a topic and thesis statement. These are two very different things. A topic defines what your work is about. A thesis statement will define the goal of your work and what you are trying to discover.

Create a Strong Thesis

The next stage after checking two or more subjects is the creation of a thesis. This is a good springboard for you to analyze within your topic. Don't be in a hurry. Consider all your options. This strategy will help you watch out for important aspects.

Make a List

Before wondering how to write a good comparison essay, you have to develop a good understanding of both items of the discussion. In order to do so, you can make a list of similarities and differences between those two items. Often, you will be surprised how much you can discover about things you thought you knew after the closer inspections.

Overall, any comparison essay example will start with the list of similarities and differences between the two items in the discussion. By making a list, you can also see how much information you can find about each subject and how much of it you can use for your assignment. The findings you get from such a list will also serve you as grounds for your future work.

Find the Common Grounds

You need to have a clear basis for your work. To do so, you need to develop a clear understanding of your subjects. Knowing them well will help you come up with common grounds these subjects share. Those common grounds are the areas you will be addressing in your essay.

Give Equal Attention to Both Items

Whether you write about books, events, theories, or anything else, you have to give the two items relatively equal attention in your paper. It doesn't matter if you don’t like or don’t agree with one of the items on that list. You still have to include it in your work and stay unbiased in your paper. When it comes to how to write a conclusion for a comparison essay, you should also divide the attention between each subject equally, not prioritizing one item over the other.

Choose the Right Structure

You can have more than one comparative essay format. In fact, you should consider more than the format before you start your paper. See which structure and narrative can fit best to your topic and writing style.

One way you can do it is to structure your work around the similarities and differences of the given subjects. It is a rather common and simple way of how to write a comparative analysis essay. All you have to do is to draw a general comparison of the two items.

The other way of doing it is by picking several parameters of those subjects and analyzing them.

For instance, if you choose to write about historical events such as two world wars, you have to narrow down your topic anyway. You can pick several parameters, not too many, though, to make the comparison precise and on-point. You can compare the technological progress that happened during the peacetime between wars by analyzing weapons during World War 1 and World War 2. Thus, your parameters could be heavy machinery, infantry weapons, and navy. This is the stage where knowing how to write an outline can really come in handy.

Make an Outline

How to begin a comparative essay? No matter if it is comparison, reflective, Toulmin or position essay, you need to create a nice outline. Typically, these essays have a basic structure. This means that you will have no problem creating a "carcass" for a future paper quickly.

In addition, you can write several sentences for each part to make it easier for you to cope with the task. Then all your thoughts will be systematized, and you will not waste time looking for important data. It is critical to understand that an outline is an important stage of any writing work. It is the method to organize your future paper in a coherent and effective way.

  • Thesis Statement

The first thing that should go to your outline is the thesis statement. Your entire work must always center around the thesis statement that you normally put in the last part of the introduction. Once you have the thesis in, start the first paragraph.

  • Main Body

The first paragraph and any following paragraphs of the main body must contain the core sentence. This is the sentence that carries the main idea of the paragraph. Next, you put down the supporting sentence. Its goal is either to elaborate on the main idea or to provide arguments in its defense. In case it is necessary, you can offer more than one supporting argument in the paragraph. End the outline with a brief conclusion of the paragraph’s main point. You should outline as many paragraphs in the main body as many major points you have to discuss.

  • Conclusion

Once you have finished with the main body, move on to the conclusion section. Now, you will never worry about how to conclude a comparative essay if you know how to outline it. After all, a good comparison essay conclusion must contain your key points throughout the text, which you should address and relate to the thesis statement. All of these elements must be present in the outline, which makes your job so much easier.

  • Structure and Formatting

You can also experiment with the structure in your outline. See which structure and methods fit best to the topic you have chosen. The goal of your paper is to reveal the essence of both items you are analyzing. So try to develop at least two versions of your future outline to see which one of them can do a better job.

Include citations in your outline if it helps visualize your future work better. Any compare and contrast essay APA format example can help you adjust your formatting and citation styles if you need it.

How to Introduce a Comparison Essay?

You need to take an example from the authors who gradually introduce the novel's characters, revealing their key features. Explain the key points of your assignment and your goals. In part, it will be easier for you to express the ideas of your task using a strong thesis. Take at least 20 minutes to articulate this key aspect.

Make Your Body Paragraphs

So, the first stage has been successfully completed. Now you know how to begin a comparison essay. You don't need to worry anymore. It’s simple. All you need is the correct sequence of thoughts. Typically, you need to stick to the block method. Get ready to present all subjects in turn. List all the important characteristics and key factors that are crucial to you. Use arguments to clarify your position and the relevance of your task.

Strong Conclusion

And here is the logical conclusion. This is exactly what plays the most important role. Describe what you learned. Be succinct, and don't try to retell everything. Your final proposals should be an indirect confirmation of your rightness. But there is no need to rewrite all the previous paragraphs. Be concise.

Extra Tips to Write Such an Essay Like a Pro

How to Pick a Topic?

Take a look at what interests you if your professor does not insist on choosing a specific topic. You may be interested in direct comparisons of certain subjects, studies, historical figures, or certain scientific methods. Do not hurry. Think about what might be of interest to you.

Which Method Is Better to Choose?

There is a classic block method that is typical for most types of essays. Just describe your items and make comparisons one by one. All info seems to be divided into blocks. This is quite convenient. The “point method” works a little differently. This option is more acceptable if you need to compare many parameters and differences. Divide your paper into several points, which you will tell about one by one. This will help you differentiate between certain features and options by a group.

How Can Signaling Transitions Help?

Don't forget about transition words, as they are the strongest glue for your text. The fact is that it is difficult for beginners to describe the many similarities and differences. Because of this, each paragraph can seem like a disjointed collection of facts. Here are some useful words to help you make a smooth transition from one aspect to another:

  • on the contrary;
  • in common with;
  • otherwise;
  • on the other hand.

Don't forget to edit and proofread your paper. You will most likely need at least 30-60 minutes to add all transition words or rewrite weak sentences. Then your task will look much better. Follow all the steps, and you won't have any problems.