How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay


A compare and contrast essay is one of the most common assignments in high school and college. It requires the writer to explore the similarities and differences between two subjects. These subjects might be two pieces of literature, historical events, scientific concepts, or any other topic that lends itself to comparison. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of writing an effective compare and contrast essay.

Step 1: Choose Your Subjects

The first step in writing a compare and contrast essay is to choose two subjects that are suitable for comparison. Ideally, these subjects should have some similarities and some differences so you can explore their nuances.

When choosing your subjects, keep these tips in mind:

– Make sure both subjects fit within the parameters of your assignment.

– Choose subjects that interest you.

– Consider whether there’s enough information available for thorough comparison.

Step 2: Determine Your Basis for Comparison

Once you’ve chosen your subjects, it’s time to decide on the basis for comparison – what aspect or feature will you focus on when determining their similarities and differences? Some common bases for comparison include themes, characters, events, or ideas.

Step 3: Research Your Subjects

Before you can start analyzing your subjects, you need to gather information about them. Conduct research using reliable sources, like books, articles from reputable publications, or websites with a solid reputation.

Take notes on the similarities and differences between your subjects based on your chosen basis for comparison. This research will form the backbone of your essay.

Step 4: Develop a Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is the central argument of your essay. It should present an evaluation of the similarities and differences between your subjects while maintaining a clear focus on the basis for comparison.

For example, if you’re comparing two historical figures, your thesis might state: “Although both Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar faced political upheaval and threats to their rule, their approaches to power and leadership differed significantly.”

Step 5: Create an Outline

An outline helps organize your thoughts and ensures your essay is structured logically. A typical compare and contrast essay outline might look like this:

I. Introduction

A. Briefly introduce the subjects

B. Thesis statement

II. Comparison of Subject 1 and Subject 2

A. Feature or aspect 1

1. Subject 1

2. Subject 2

B. Feature or aspect 2

1. Subject 1

2. Subject 2

III. Conclusion

A. Summarize the main points of comparison

B. Restate the thesis statement

Step 6: Write Your Essay

With your research, thesis, and outline in place, you’re ready to write your compare and contrast essay. Keep these tips in mind:

– Use clear, concise language.

– Support your arguments with evidence from your research.

– Follow the structure of your outline to ensure logical flow.

– Vary your sentence structure for a more engaging read.


Writing a compare and contrast essay is an opportunity to explore the similarities and differences between two subjects while honing your critical thinking and writing skills. By choosing appropriate subjects, conducting thorough research, crafting a strong thesis statement, and following a logical outline, you’ll be well on your way to writing an insightful and engaging essay.

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