How Do You Write A Compare And Contrast Essay Outline


A compare and contrast essay is a type of academic essay used to differentiate and relate different subjects, objects, ideas, or themes. Compare literally means to estimate, measure, or note the similarities and differences between two different subjects, while contrast means to differ strikingly. This gives us a clear meaning behind a compare and contrast essay.

These essays are given to the students by their teachers to evaluate their analytical and comparative skills. To write an excellent compare and contrast essay, one needs to focus on the central theme of the topic. A good introduction, followed by a strong comparison, helps in achieving the goal.

When writing a compare and contrast essay, it’s important to develop a meaningful argument. The whole essay is based upon the argument that is being built by the writer.


Before starting a project, planning is very important; it builds the foundation of it, strengthens it from the core, similar is the job of an outline. Outline forms the true base of any essay, paper, or an article. It is the medium through which all the planning and the pretext brainstorming can be expressed to the reader. Outlines reflect the main theme of literature, covering all the ideas and thoughts in a brief form. With the help of an outline, one can easily manage and organize the piece of literature he/she is working on.

Pretext planning

A compare and contrast essay demands the number of points that can be used to establish an argument among the subjects which are being discussed in the essay. For that, various methods are used to brainstorm and jot down the points for writing the essay.

One can draw a Venn diagram, which includes two overlapping circles. The overlapped part can be used to write the similarities while the other part of the circles can be used to write the subject-specific characteristics. This is visually appealing and helpful at the same time.

On the other hand, a table can also be developed, which can be used to write the characteristics or features of the subjects being discussed. In the end, the writer can easily pick out similar and different features from that table.

Most of the time, while using these methods, the writer loses track and jots down a high number of similarities and differences, which is not even required. This should be avoided at all costs because the purpose of the essay is to build a healthy comparison, not a long list of features and characteristics.

Pretext planning
Write A Compare And Contrast Essay

Compare and contrast essay outline

The compare and contrast essays stand out in various ways. It has a different kind of outline compared to other types of essays. It is based on a set of rules and two established formats that should be followed to create the right outline. The essay outline formats give it a unique touch and make the structure of the essay interesting.

There are always three basic components of an outline for any type of essay, which include: introduction, body, and conclusion, and the same goes for a compare and contrast essay. But what makes it different from others is the formatting and structuring of these components.

Introduction outline

The introduction of a compare and contrast essay comprises of the following headings:

Essay topic

Under this heading, all you need to do is to write the topic or heading of the compare and contrast essay. Example: “Comparison of Autumn and Spring”

  • Purpose

One needs to specify the purpose of the essay, depending on the topic. The following are the examples: (1) Specifying the differences between autumn and spring, (2) Analyzing the similarities between autumn and spring, and (3) Comparing/contrasting between autumn and spring.

  • Significance

It is at the discretion of the writer to include this heading, but we at Case48 suggest you opt for it as it helps build the outline stronger. It defines the purpose of clarifying the importance of the comparison and what knowledge it will provide you with.

  • Thesis statement

The thesis statement provides you with an opportunity to make your argument strong. It helps in building a firm-footing for the comparison. This heading specifies the objects under discussion with the main features which are to present in the essay. This is the right time to use the brainstorming done earlier before the start of the essay.  

After the introduction outline, let us put some light on the main body outline and the organization of the paragraphs.

Outline and paragraph management

As mentioned earlier, the format holds real importance when it comes to writing an essay or making an outline. There are two main formats when creating the outline for a compare and contrast essay. These are:

1. Point-by-point arrangement  

For long essays, for readers to keep a follow track on your ideas and for comparing objects which have a lot of similarities and differences, we at Case48 suggest you opt for point-by-point arrangement. This format is very helpful when comparing objects with a high number of similarities and differences as it compares the features of the objects paragraph by paragraph, and it makes it easy for the reader to follow.  

In a standard essay of around 5 paragraphs, it is best to include three paragraphs in the main body, but one can add more according to the requirements and topic relevance.  

2. Block arrangement

The block arrangement format is mostly used when the essay is short or the objects being compared and analyzed have complex features. This method focuses on a paragraph to paragraph analysis of objects with every feature being discussed in the object-centered paragraph. As it is used for brief essays, this format can be challenging when writing a lengthy essay.

No matter what type of format you choose but always remember to start your essay with a topic sentence as it helps in explaining the content of the paragraph.  

3. Outline for conclusion

Mostly the outline for the conclusion includes the thesis statement, but it is recommended to expand the thesis statement adding more details, which will help compactly conclude your essay. It should discuss the outcomes of your comparison, which you have conducted in your essay. The conclusion is as important as the introduction. The conclusion outline is divided into the following components:

  • Summary

The main points should be summarized in order to synthesize the thesis of your topic with the main body of the essay. Conclusion demands closure, and that comes through summarizing the main points.

  • Evaluation

The analysis is as important as the comparison done in the compare and contrast essay. At the end of the essay, you need to analyze and derive various possible solutions depending upon the type of it.  

  • Significance

The importance of the topic needs to be justified at the end of the essay, for that all you need to do is to answer a simple question that is “What is my goal/purpose of writing this essay?”. Once you have answered this question, the significance of your essay topic will be well defined.

Importance of Compare and Contrast words

With the formatting, structure, and outline, there are other features as well, which make a compare and contrast essays different from other types of essays. The transfer of ideas from the literature to the reader is important. To make sure that this transition is conducted smoothly and efficiently, the author needs to use proper words relevant to the nature of the essay, also known as the compare and contrast words. These words work as signals which help in conveying the comparison and analysis.

The signal words used in the comparison essay include: similarly, too, just as, also, both, comparatively, same as, as well as, like, in the same way.

The words that should be used in contrast essay include: however, in contrast to, conversely, while, on the other hand, more than/less than, rather than, unlike, compared with, although.

These words build a link between the objects being compared and the features as well. While using these signal words, one should be careful because different formats demand a different kind of use of these words. When writing in the block arrangement of compare and contrast essay, most of the signal words should be used in the paragraph that discusses the second object. One should be sure to use the before mentioned linking words in the second paragraph because otherwise, it will be hard for the author to summarize the features of the objects rather than comparing and contrasting.

Importance of Compare
Write A Compare And Contrast Essay

Reference-based writing

Whenever writing an essay that is based on an argument, it is important to quote references and examples. Compare and contrast essays are based on strong arguments, so it is essential for us to quote various examples and references, which can be from books, articles, papers, magazines, or newspapers. To make the essay more credible and stronger, these references and examples should be used often. For example, if one intends to write an essay on the topic: Regular classes vs. Online classes, he/she can quote examples from his/her own experiences as well.

Extra tips

The first and foremost tip will be to write your compare and contrast essay with the right attitude. You need to keep the reader intact to your essay for that makes it catchy and interesting, so the reader never loses his/her interest from it. To polish your compare and contrast essay, you need to make sure that you use a healthy amount of transitions and in the right way. As discussed earlier, the transitions hold immense importance as the ideas have to be conveyed in a manner that the reader understands the comparison with the analysis.

Whenever writing an essay, you should know that the reader doesn’t know everything, so you have to be very clear and understandable while putting your ideas on paper. The concept should be clear so the reader can easily pick it from your essay. The writer should always check the essay after writing it; proofreading is as important as any other task for composing the essay, it helps to clear out all those small errors and mistakes which might be neglected when writing the essay.

Software’s are also available which help in proofreading and for composing the software, but we suggest you to not to use such software’s because they suppress your critical thinking skills and they are not always efficient enough. So, it's better to use your own creativity.


Compare and contrast essays are unique in their own nature. It is not a hard task to write one, but to maintain the balance and to achieve perfection indeed takes hard work and the right set of rules. We need to know that the compare and contrast essay is not just comparison; it involves a sophisticated analysis, a thorough evaluation, and credible examples. It starts with creating a proper outline for which one needs to choose the right formatting, either it is point-by-point or block arrangement. The appropriate structure gives more strength to the essay. The main points should be discussed in detail, for it helps in building up the comparison. In the end, a compact conclusion, a brief evaluation, and a significant statement sums up everything.

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