Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Guide

A compare and contrast essay outline is an academic paper where you analyze two concepts or ideas and structure them in a specific style. When comparing two subjects, you explore their similarities. When contrasting two subjects, you discuss their differences.

compare and contrast essay outline

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The subjects that you choose to compare and contrast have to be in the same category, but should have some differences. For example, you can write an essay to compare and contrast two colleges or two singers.

When writing a compare and contrast essay, you need to explain why your analysis is important and its implications. Read on and find out how to write a comparative essay.

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

A comparative essay requires you to analyze facts and explain the importance and the implications of your analysis rather than simply write a list of similarities and differences. Your instructor will use this type of writing to challenge your analysis skills and test your comparative skills as well.

A compare and contrast essay outline requires you to be keen and observant and make a compelling argument about your subjects. Below are steps that will guide you in writing your paper

1.     Choose the Best Compare and Contrast Essay Topic

Choosing the best comparative essay topic for your paper is critical to your success in essay writing. Your instructor can provide you with the topic or may require you to choose one for yourself.

It is important to remember that when choosing a compare and contrast essay topic, the subjects should not be too different from each other. Subjects that are hugely different from each other leave no room for comparison.  If they are too similar to each other, then, there is no room for contrast.

Choose essay topics that inspires you and not too dull. You can begin to pick a topic using the following ways

   Look for Categories

The two subjects you pick should belong to the same category. The first step is to identify a category. Examples of the categories you can find are such as birds, fish, animals, movies, food, cars, or even economics.

  Pick a Surprising Fact

Look for information about your subjects that is surprising and not obvious to the readers. This will encourage them to read your essay from the beginning to the end. You will also enjoy writing about the topic, and your readers will also enjoy reading it.

For example, you can write a compare and contrast essay on attending in-person classes vs. online classes. Find and analyze interesting facts about the two  learning models.

A student can attend in-person classes and take some lessons online as well. You can use your experience as an in-person student and an online student to elaborate on your main idea.

2.     Research your Topic

Research and find out the differences and similarities about your topic. Write down the similarities, especially, the striking similarities. Write down the differences as well, and use your imagination to look at them from various angles. This style uses a list in the form of a table and presents you with a well-organized format for your essay.

 Use an Illustration

An illustration like a Venn diagram can help make things clearer, especially, if you are a visual learner. Instead of writing a list, you can draw two overlapping circles, where each circle represents a different idea.

On the overlapping section of the circles, you will write down the similarities. On the sections that are not overlapping, you will write the unique qualities of each subject as differences. This style helps you to have a clear organization of similarities and differences in your subject.

3.     Write your Thesis Statement

A compare and contrast paper must have a thesis statement that will make a meaningful comparison. The essay statement is your main idea and sets the theme of your entire paper. You will need to brainstorm and come up with be the most meaningful thesis.

4. Compare and Contrast Essay Outline and Structure

The structure that you can use to organize your work can be the block method, or you can use the point by point method to analyze your work. In both methods, you will be writing down facts and describing them to your readers. You can also use a compare and contrast template for these two structures.

Block Method

The block method is where you will write all the information, including the characteristics of your first subject. You will clearly elaborate specific details about the first subject as you conclude the first block.

In the second block, you will likewise write all details and characteristics of your second subject. This method is easier to write because you only have to write all the details and characteristics of your two subjects. It is up to the reader to make the comparison.

 The Point by Point Method

point-by-point method


When you use the point-by-point method, you will list all the similarities and differences simultaneously as you analyze the two subjects to your readers. In this method, you make it easier for your readers to understand the similarities and differences of your subject by making them more explicit.

5.  Outline for Compare and Contrast Essay

The compare and contrast essay outline uses the typical essay structure that has five paragraphs. You may need to add more characteristics, differences, or similarities to your subject to provide your readers with a better analysis.

In such a scenario, you can add an extra paragraph. Here is how a typical comparative essay outline will look like


Like any other essay, your compare and contrast essay outline must introduce your topic to your readers. Make sure your topic presents an interesting fact that is intriguing enough to hook your readers and keep them reading your essay to the end.

   Thesis Statement

Brainstorm your thesis statement and come up with meaningful sentences explaining what your entire paper is about. The thesis statement is what you will discuss in the body section of your compare and contrast essay.


Typically this is usually a three paragraph section that presents arguments about your thesis statement. Here you will have the topic sentence and the arguments arranged in either a block structure or point by point structure according to your preferred choice.

Depending on your subjects and the characteristics you will discuss, you may need to have an additional paragraph in this section. Discuss in detail the arguments and make sure you explain specific facts that you think maybe new to your readers.

Do not assume that the readers know about those unique characteristics. You can also write about your relevant experiences to water down the intensity of plain facts.  Make your writing more relatable as you evaluate your subjects.


When concluding your term paper, you will need to bring your argument full circle. Summarize the differences and similarities of your subjects, the importance and implications of your discussion. Also, you can present your final thoughts as you bring your paper to a close.

6.  Provide Evidence in your Arguments

Support your arguments with evidence from credible sources to validate your work. Evidence from books, credible online sites, scholarly articles, journals, reputable magazines, and even personal experiences are sources of evidence.

These sources will provide you with the evidence you need to support your claim. Proper research of evidence will make your work more credible and add depth to your argument.

7.  Use Transition

When you are comparing or contrasting two subjects, it is important to use transitions and make your work to have a good flow. When comparing two subjects, you can use the following transition words

  • Similarly
  • Compare to
  • Just like
  • Alike
  • Likewise
  • Both
  • Similar to

When you are discussing the differences between the two subjects, you can use transition words like

  • But
  • In comparison to
  • On the other hand
  • To differ from
  • By comparison
  • While
  • In contrast
  • Whereas

Compare and contrast essays require the use of a powerful transition to communicate a point effectively. You can learn more about transitions and research to find out which ones will work best for your essay.

8.     Proofread your work

Like any other essay, you need to produce work that is error free for you to get a good grade. Make sure you read through your essay after writing it.

Correct all the spelling and grammatical mistakes. Before handing in your essay, you can take a short break away from it. Then come back after a few hours to counter check your work again just in case there are mistakes you did not catch in the first round.

You can also ask your friends or a family member to proofread again. A fresh pair of eyes can catch glaring mistakes that you might have missed.

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

There are various compare and contrasts topics and examples that you can choose to write about. For example, you can write a comparative essay on the following topics

  • Differences between online learning and in-person classroom learning
  • Similarities and differences between UK and US election system
  • American vs. Australian English, what’s the difference?
  • Organic food vs. non-organic foods, what are the similarities and differences?
  • A restaurant vs. a food van business, what’s the difference?

Key Takeaway

Compare and contrast essay outline will help you organize your work in a coherent manner that readers will find easy to understand. To make your essay more interesting, you need to have the right attitude, and actively engage your readers.

This will make your writing to standout. When comparing and contrasting, use more transition words and always clarify concepts, especially, those you suspect your readers don’t know.

Make sure your work is error-free. Error-free work is credible, and you get better grades for good grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you have problems on compare and contrast essay outline, order now for more assistance.

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