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Posted: September 6th, 2023

Compare and Contrast Essay Structure and Outline

Writing Guide: Compare and Contrast Essay Structure and Outline

A compare and contrast essay is an academic paper that compares and contrasts two or more subjects. To compare means to explore similarities between subjects, while to contrast means to look at their differences. This type of essay is very common among college and university students. Professors challenge their students to use their analytical and comparative skills and pay close attention to the subjects of their comparisons. This type of essay exercises observance and analysis, helps to establish a frame of reference, and makes meaningful arguments about a subject.

To start a compare and contrast essay, you should brainstorm similarities and differences between the subjects. Creating a Venn diagram is a helpful way to organize the information. Another way to brainstorm is to create a list with two columns, one for each subject, and compare the same characteristics for each of them simultaneously. This will help you to have your ideas ready and organized.

When writing a compare and contrast essay, it is important to avoid simply listing all of the differences or similarities for each subject. Your essay should be based on analyzing the similarities and differences, analyzing your conclusions about the two subjects, and finding connections between them.

The block method involves presenting all the information for one subject first, followed by a detailed explanation of its characteristics and specific details, and then moving onto the same approach for the second subject. This method is often easier for the writer to organize, as it allows for a straightforward comparison of the two subjects. However, it may also make it more difficult for the reader to see the connections between the subjects.

On the other hand, the point-by-point method lists each similarity and difference between the two subjects simultaneously, making notes of both subjects. This approach requires more analysis of the points, making similarities and differences more explicit to the reader. However, it may be more challenging for the writer to organize and can result in a less cohesive essay.

Regardless of which method you choose, the introduction should provide background information on the subjects being compared and contrasted, specify the theme, and present the thesis statement. The body paragraphs should cover each area of comparison or contrast in one sentence, followed by supporting evidence and analysis. The conclusion should summarize the main points of the essay and provide final thoughts on the comparison. By following these guidelines, you can effectively structure a compare and contrast essay and effectively communicate your ideas to the reader.

Essay Outline Guides:

When organizing a compare and contrast essay, it is important to consider which outline method to use: the block method or the point-by-point method. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.

The block method is simpler for the writer, as it involves presenting all of the information about each subject in a separate block of text. The reader is left to compare the two blocks themselves. On the other hand, the point-by-point method requires more analysis from the writer to make similarities and differences more explicit to the reader.

Here is a detailed structure for each method:

Point-by-Point Method

Introduction

Introduce the topic
Specify the theme
Present the thesis – covering all areas of the essay in one sentence
Example thesis:
Cars and motorcycles make for excellent means of transportation, but a good choice depends on the person’s lifestyle, finances, and the city they live in.

Body Paragraphs

Cover each area of the essay in one sentence, with supporting evidence and analysis
Body Paragraph 1 – Lifestyle

Topic Sentence: Motorcycles impact the owner’s lifestyle less than cars.
Topic 1 – Motorcycles
Argument: Motorcycles are smaller and more comfortable to store.
Argument: Motorcycles are easy to learn and use.
Topic 2 – Cars
Argument: Cars are a big deal – they are like a second home.
Argument: It takes time to learn to become a good driver.
Body Paragraph 2 – Finances

Topic Sentence: Cars are much more expensive than motorcycles
Topic 1 – Motorcycles
Argument: You can buy a good motorcycle for under $300.
Argument: Fewer parts that are more accessible to fix.
Topic 2 – Cars
Argument: Parts and service are expensive if something breaks.
Argument: Cars need more gas than motorcycles.
Body Paragraph 3 – City

Topic Sentence: Cars are a better option for bigger cities with wider roads.
Topic 1 – Motorcycles
Argument: Riding motorcycles in a big city is more dangerous than with cars.
Argument: Motorcycles work great in a city like Rome, where all the streets are narrow.
Topic 2 – Cars
Argument: Big cities are easier and more comfortable to navigate by car.
Argument: With a car, traveling outside of the city is much easier.
Conclusion

Sum up all you wrote in the article.

Block Method

Introduction

Introduce the topic
Specify the theme
Thesis – covering all areas of the essay in one sentence
Example thesis:
Cars and motorcycles make for excellent means of transportation, but a good choice depends on the person’s lifestyle, finances, and the city they live in.

Body Paragraphs

Present all of the information about each subject in separate blocks of text.
Body Paragraph 1

Topic Sentence: Motorcycles are cheaper and easier to take care of than cars.
Aspect 1 – Lifestyle
Argument: Motorcycles are smaller and more comfortable to store.
Argument: Motorcycles are easy to learn and use.
Aspect 2 – Finances
Argument: You can buy a good motorcycle for under $300.
Argument: Fewer parts, easier to fix.
Aspect 3 – City
Argument: Riding motorcycles in a big city is more dangerous than cars.
Argument: Motorcycles work great in a city like Rome, where all the streets are narrow.
Body Paragraph 2

Topic Sentence: Cars are more expensive but more comfortable for a big city and for travelling.
Aspect 1 – Lifestyle
Argument: Cars are a big deal – like a second home.
Argument: It takes time to learn to become a good driver.
Aspect 2 – Finances
Argument: Parts and service are expensive if something breaks, but cars have a longer lifespan than motorcycles.
Argument: Cars need more gas than motorcycles, but they have larger tanks and better fuel efficiency on highways.
Aspect 3 – City
Argument: Big cities are easier and more comfortable to navigate by car, especially during rush hour or bad weather conditions.
Argument: With a car, traveling outside the city is much more comfortable and convenient, especially for long distances or with a group of people.

Body Paragraph 3

Topic Sentence: Evaluating the comparisons between cars and motorcycles
Aspect 1 – Lifestyle
Explanation: Both cars and motorcycles offer different benefits and drawbacks for an individual’s lifestyle, depending on their preferences and needs.
Aspect 2 – Finances
Explanation: While motorcycles are generally cheaper to buy and maintain, they may require more frequent repairs and have a shorter lifespan than cars.
Aspect 3 – City
Explanation: The choice between a car or a motorcycle largely depends on the size and infrastructure of the city, as well as the individual’s commuting habits and preferences.

As such, choosing between a car and a motorcycle as a means of transportation depends on various factors, such as lifestyle, finances, and the city one lives in. While the block method and point-by-point method are both effective in structuring a compare and contrast essay, the point-by-point method allows for a more detailed analysis of the similarities and differences between the two subjects. Ultimately, the decision between a car and a motorcycle is a personal one, based on individual needs and preferences.

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