The structure of compare and contrast essay

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The structure or framework of your compare and contrast is rather simple. There are three main types that you may alter and change as you see fit. This article explains all three structures, it explains why you need an essay structure and gives you valuable tips on how to write your compare and contrast essay.

Why do I need an essay structure?

There are two real reasons. The first is because your work is going to be read by others and so should have a structure that they understand. If a person had to learn a new essay structure every time he or she read essays then he or she would not have fun. The second reason is because it helps you explain your points in a framework, which makes writing your essay a little easier too. If you are a student there is third reason, and that is that your professor will not grade you very highly if your essay looks like a Danielle Steele novel.

Plan your essay from the start

All essays should start with a planning session. Your job is to note down as many points as you can, research other points, note down how they connect, reference other works and make notes of what they are, and finally put it into a plan you can follow as you write. When you write your plan, it is better to put it into a structure you can understand. The concluding notes go in the conclusion section of your essay plan, so enter it into your plan and you can be sure you will not miss anything.

The three types of compare and contrast structure

You can come up with a sophisticated structure of your own, but you should stay within the introduction, body and conclusion framework (in that order). If you want to make it even more complex than that then it is up to you. Here are some options you may like to try:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis
  • Differences
  • Differences
  • Differences
  • Similarities
  • Similarities
  • Similarities
  • Conclusion

Or

  • Introduction
  • Thesis
  • Differences
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • Similarities
  • Conclusion

Or

  • Introduction
  • Thesis
  • Differences and their importance
  • Similarities and their importance
  • A judgment on the comparison
  • Conclusion

There are three structures you can use when you write your comparison essay. You can mix them up a little further if you wish, and you may even add in analysis and evaluation sections too.

The type of essay or the subject of the essay you are writing may suit one structure better than the other. For example, the last structure in which a person determines the importance of a similarity or difference may be ideal for a person comparing two competing products. One product may have a major flaw that counts as a big difference with the other product, and the third structure would help to highlight this better.

Learn how to end a point

A point said long is a point said wrong. It may not be a foolproof saying, or even a very correct one, but it doesn’t hurt to keep it at the back of your mind. People only tend to pay attention at a very beginning of a point and at the very end. If you make a massive point in your essay, then there is a chance you could have said it in a more concise manner and still made the same impact (if not a better one).

Your essay assignment may give clues to the structure of your essay

For example, if your essay is about exploring an event, then a structure more fitting a narrative essay would probably be best, if your essay is about examining an idea, then a structure not dissimilar to a research paper may be best.

Defining compare and defining contrast

When you compare you look at the difference and the similarities. When you contrast, you are only looking at the differences. Some may tell you that the compare means only look at the similarities (making out it is the opposite of contrast), but if your professor sets a task where you have to compare, then you need to show the similarities and differences unless told otherwise.

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