When you need to write a compare and contrast essay, first thing you should do is prewriting. During this stage, students brainstorm topic, looking for information, relevant sources. But what is the next step after you have completed prewriting, collected a bunch of appealing, but pretty disorganized informative details? The correct answer is to create a compare and contrast essay outline.
Like any other high school or college paper, this piece of writing should present an argument as your teacher or professor expect to see research outcomes, critical analysis, which persuasively convey your point of view. To meet their expectations in the best possible manner, you should ensure that your paper has an excellent structure because logical organization of ideas contributes to persuasive value of an argument. If you’re done with brainstorming, we suggest you compose compare and contrast essay outline following recommendations presented below and achieve this challenging goal.
What is an Outline and Why is It Important?
Function of an outline is largely similar to that of a skeleton in a human body: like skeleton maintains body shape, so outline provides an internal framework that supports an essay. Excellence of your outline is likely to result in excellence of an essay, and vice-versa. Any flaws in outline or its absence altogether will most likely damage essay structure. Given that professors of American colleges expect papers to have logical structure, good outline is a reasonable investment for the sake of your future high grade. When you need to write a compare and contrast paper, outlines that you’ve created for other paper types will not work, as special structure is necessary in this case due to peculiarities of compare and contrast essay format.
How to Structure a Compare and Contrast Essay Outline?
Like in any other, introduction, body, and conclusion form basic compare and contrast essay structure, outline should contain these text components. Notably, a compare and contrast outline differs from outlines for other essay types due to special organization of body paragraphs, many guidelines on writing aim at explaining this difference without attributing much attention to introduction, as well as conclusion. Still, when composing an outline, it is wiser to start with an introduction, as there are several simple tricks that can ensure that your argument is logical and persuasive.
Outlining Introduction for This Type of Essay
When you do an outline, there is no need to compose whole introduction. Instead, just write down details described in this template for an introduction:
Essay Topic – Here you should specify compare and contrast essay ideas as they are. For instance, it can be presented in the following manner: “Comparison of object A to object B,” “Contrasting A to B,” or “Comparing/Contrasting A with B.”
Purpose – Depending on the topic, you can pursue the following purposes: “Discussing similarities between A and B,” “Analyzing the differences between A and B,” or “Discussing similarities or differences between A and B” correspondingly.
Significance – This detail is optional and depends on writing level. But we suggest you include it to make introduction stronger. It is important to clarify why you need to know similarities or differences between analyzed objects. What value does this knowledge have?
Thesis statement – Thesis should present a strong argument for outline. This means that it is not enough to say that two objects are similar or different. Instead, you should clarify how exactly they differ or compare. With this in mind, the thesis should specify objects under comparison. Make a point of significance by presenting supporting ideas, which clarify the exact features making them similar or different. At this point, you should apply information accumulated during brainstorming.
NB! The thesis statement type varies significantly depending on essay purpose.
For instance, comparison essay outline demands you to provide an explanation of similarities.
We suggest you use this template for a five-paragraph comparison essay: “A and B may be different in some aspect, but they both have common feature 1, 2, 3.” As for contrast/comparison essay, it demands an evaluation of compared features, based on which one object is better or worse than another one. Here is a thesis template for a five-paragraph comparison essay: “Although A and B have some similarity, A has more significant feature 1, 2, 3.” In case you are short of time to brainstorm the thesis, we suggest you use the thesis statement generator.
When you’re done with outlining the details for the introduction and with thesis statement composition, it is time to move to body organization for future compare and contrast essay.
Organization of Paragraphs
When it comes to formatting of body paragraphs, there are two distinct methods of organization of ideas: Point-By-Point Arrangement and Block Arrangement. It is important to make a choice, strictly adhere to only one of these methods. If you write long essays, want readers follow your ideas easily, or need to compare objects that have many similarities or differences, we suggest you consider Point-By-Point Arrangement. This organization pattern suggests paragraph by paragraph analysis of particular features of both objects under concern, which is easy to follow.
Point-by-Point Arrangement compare and contrast paragraphs has the following structure:
Paragraph 1: Analysis of feature 1
a) Object A (how significant is feature 1 in A?)
b) Object B (how significant is feature 1 in B?)
Paragraph 2: Analysis of feature 2
a) A (how significant is feature 2 in A?)
b) B (how significant is feature 2 in B?)
Paragraph 3: Analysis of feature 3
a) A (how significant is feature 3 in A?)
b) B (how significant is feature 3 in B?)
In case of a standard five-paragraph essay, it is enough to include three paragraphs like in our outline. Otherwise, the number of paragraphs can vary depending on the complexity of the topic.
It is better to adhere to Block Arrangement, when your comparison and contrast essay is brief or compared objects are challenging to analyze. This organization pattern suggests you should analyze all chosen features. Obviously, in context of lengthy paper, this pattern would be challenging to follow. But when the text is short, this organization method may be relevant.
Block Arrangement compare and contrast paragraphs has the following structure:
Paragraph 1: Object A
1) Feature 1
2) Feature 2
3) Feature 3
Paragraph 2: Object B
1) Feature 1
2) Feature 2
3) Feature 3
No matter the pattern of arrangement, we recommend you to start each compare and contrast paragraph with a topic sentence. It should briefly explain the content of the whole paragraph, also include them in outline. Professors of the US colleges are quite demanding in this respect, and failure to include strong topics can result in significant deduction of points.
For an outline, it is enough to restate a thesis statement for a conclusion. But we recommend you to expand the conclusion, when using the outline to write a compare and contrast essay. It should not only repeat your thesis in other words, but also discuss the significance of the outcomes of your comparative or contrasting analysis.
Post-Writing Stage: Use These Compare and Contrast Words to Transform the Outline into an A-Essay
In order to make a compare and contrast outline and eventually future essay perfect, it is sound to ensure that there are proper transitions between ideas and that each idea has signal words that introduce the point of either comparison or contrast.
Here are signal words you should use in a comparison essay: similarly, too, just as, also, both, comparatively, same as, as well as, like, in the same way.
In a contrast essay we recommend using such words: however, in contrast to, conversely, while, on the other hand, more than/less than, rather than, unlike, although, compared with.
The usage of these words clarifies the links between the analyzed objects, making them seem either similar or different. You should mind that in case of a block pattern of arrangement of compare and contrast paragraphs, majority of signal words will be presented in the paragraph that discusses the second object. Be sure to include many of the mentioned linking words in the second paragraph, because otherwise, you risk to summarize the features of objects instead of comparing and contrasting them.
Outline Example Using Block Arrangement
- Topic: compare and contrast summer and winter vacations
- Purpose: discussing the similarities and differences of summer and winter vacations
- Significance: exploring both options and becoming able to choose the best one
- Thesis statement: Although summer and winter vacations are both good for health and productivity, during summer vacation, one has more options for outdoor activities due to more favorable weather conditions, but these activities can be more expensive than in winter due to seasonality of tourist attractions.
Discussing similarities between summer and winter vacations
1: Summer vacation improves one’s health and contributes to productivity upon arrival back to work.
Feature 1: Improvement of health (needs factual support like cited evidence from sources)
Feature 2: Improvement of productivity
2: Winter vacation is also good for the health and productivity.
Feature 1: Winter vacation improves health as well as summer vacation.
Feature 2: Comparatively to summer vacation, one’ productivity increases due to winter vacation.
Discussing differences between summer and winter vacations
3: In summer, one can visit plenty of new places and spend more money on tourist attractions.
Feature 1: Travelling
Feature 2: Spending money
4: In contrast, in winter one can be less interested in traveling than in summer, and correspondingly, winter vacation may be less costly.
Feature 1: less traveling
Feature 2: less spending
While choice of a preferred kind of vacation depends on one’s income and love to active pastime, as summer vacation is more expensive, but in winter there are less options for outdoor activities, both summer and winter vacations will increase one’s productivity and improve health.
Use These Tricks to Ensure Best Outline Results
Now, when you know exactly how to compose a detailed compare and contrast essay outline, your future essay is likely to obtain a really strong “skeleton.” You should start your outline by specifying the details for an introduction. Then, you should proceed by choosing a relevant method of organization of body paragraphs and adhere to that choice, making sure that each of your paragraph has a topic sentence. Finish the outline with a nice conclusion by restating the thesis statement.
If you still have questions on how to compose an outline for a particular topic or how to turn a compare and contrast outline into an essay, you should receive a compare and contrast essay template, by asking EduBirdie for some writing tips. Is your schedule too constrained to write an essay even with a template? In this case, EduBirdie, who knows how loaded the curriculums of American colleges are, has an excellent solution, as your A-paper is just three steps away:
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