Almost every single day we exercise our intellectual process of comparison and contrast to arrive at a decision or make a judgment concerning 2 or more subjects, persons, opinions, or feelings. The important point to keep in mind when writing a compare and contrast essay is that in this piece of academic writing authors usually support their personal viewpoints.
In his paper one must always follow a certain compare and contrast essay outline. Your opinion about the two or more elements under consideration becomes the thesis statement. The body of your essay then explains why you came up to this opinion. There are two main formats in which you can write a compare and contrast essay: the block and point by point format. For the majority of short essays you should choose one of the formats and adhere to it. In case you are assigned a longer paper, you may prefer to mix the formats for a change like many professional authors do.
One of the ways to arrange your material is to use the block format. This method of organization presents body paragraphs in which the author discusses the first subject on points one, two, three, etc., then writes about the second subject on the same points. For example, you may compare your trip to the Netherlands and Switzerland by taking such points as sightseeing, the overall cultural level and hotel service. If you consider these points in the Netherlands paragraph, you must consider the corresponding points in the Switzerland paragraph in the same order. Below is this compare and contrast essay outline:
- Body paragraph: Netherlands
- Body paragraph: Switzerland
You must add to your discussion of the second subject certain references to the points you considered earlier while writing about the first subject since the readers may not remember accurately what you wrote previously. You should unobtrusively remind the audience with a certain reference to the earlier discussion. Because what should be one whole essay may look more like two separate mini-essays, making the audience do the job of comparing and/or contrasting for you.
Point by Point Format
The second format to arrange the same material is to discuss a particular point about your trip to the Netherlands and then in the same paragraph to consider the same point about the trip to Switzerland. This is called point by point or alternating essay organization. Here’s the model of this compare and contrast essay outline:
- Body Paragraph 1: Sightseeng
- Body Paragraph 2: Culture
- Body Paragraph 3: Service
In case you choose this compare and contrast essay outline, you must make a fine transition from the first subject to the second in each body paragraph. Write your paper consistently presenting the same subject first in each discussion of the main point.
While you prepare to write your first draft, you may ask yourself whether to use the block or point by point essay format. For many authors, selecting this or that format of arrangement involves thinking time in the prewriting phase, before beginning a draft. Quite often your essay’s topic will suggest the most effective way of development. The block format may be the better option if a total picture of each subject is required (for example, in “then-and-now” comparative essay).
But your compare and contrast essay topic also may be developed by making a number of distinct points for the audience to consider one by one. Papers that evaluate or argue the superiority or advantage of some thing over another often presuppose the use of point by point format, since each of the author’s claims may be distinctly supported by the side-by-side points.
Every author must decide which format of essay arrangement works best in this or that particular case. In academic writing clearness is a very important objective, and using the proper compare and contrast essay outline always contributes to it.