Compare and Contrast Essay Explained

The basic purpose of a compare and contrast essay is to analyze the differences and similarities of two given ideas or things. It is the writer’s job to provide evidence showing the factors that each topic has in common as well as providing evidence to show how they differ from one another. The writer will often find these types of essays when trying to synthesis information on a broad scale, such as in a government class.

Essentially, it is the job of the writer to show the reader the points of commonality between the topics and to point out the differences.

How do you write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

In order to effectively write a compare / contrast essay, the writer must first decide what the similarities and difference between the topics are. A Venn diagram will be of great use to the writer in such a case, as the writer will be able to use visualization to organize the structure of the paper.

There are two distinct strategies in writing such an essay. The first is to use each paragraph to address both topics. The second is to address one topic first, then the other topic. This will then be followed by a period of analysis that addresses both topics. In either case, it is important for the writer to decide ahead of time and structure the writing and research accordingly.

Template of a Compare and Contrast Essay


  • Present the basic information about the topics to be compared and contrasted
  • Narrows the focus to allow the writer to easily present information on the topics
  • Provides a thesis statement that allows the reader to understand, in a general sense, the information that will be presented on the topics

Body Paragraphs

  • Depending on the chosen structure, either addresses both topics in the same paragraph or addresses a specific topic
  • Falling in line with the thesis, shows how the topics are similar
  • Also shows how the topics are different
  • Evidence will be provided to back up the writer’s suppositions


  • Summary of the evidence presented
  • Restatement of the thesis
  • Address the significance of the two topics being compared and contrasted
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