Description: Two items linked by characteristics or attributes.

Such assignments require you to move beyond mere description by thinking deeply about the items being compared, identifying meaningful relationships between them, and deciding which qualities are most significant. This process involves evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing your findings and presenting them in a meaningful, interesting, and logical way.

There are two general formats for compare and contrast papers:

There are two primary ways to organize your compare and contrast paper.

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Some instructors prefer that you only write about the differences between two things, while others want you to focus on explaining the similarities as well. Either way, you'll need to make sure that your thesis statement reflects your instructor's expectations. For example, if I wanted to write about Social Networking sites, I'd need to write different thesis statements depending on my compare/contrast assignment.

Fran Hooker & Kate James, Webster University Writing Center, 2007

Sample thesis statement for contrast paper: In terms of social networking sites, Facebook focuses on presenting your daily life to others, whereas MySpace allows you to focus more on demonstrating your personal style.


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Your instructor may ask for multiple similarities and differences--make sure you're prepared to write a well-developed, meaningful essay on a topic that you know well before you get started!

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The Best Way to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay - wikiHow

Chunking: placing all of the information for each individual subject in one place (chunk), and then using similarities as transitions.

Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Piecing: giving pieces of the information for each individual subject in each paragraph—arranging the information by topic rather than by subject.

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The purpose of a compare and contrast essay is to analyze the differences and/or the similarities of two distinct subjects. A good compare/contrast essay doesn’t only point out how the subjects are similar or different (or even both!). It uses those points to make a meaningful argument about the subjects. While it can be a little intimidating to approach this type of essay at first, with a little work and practice, you can write a great compare-and-contrast essay!

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It would be better to write about how sensitive both horses and cats are to human needs and emotions. You could also suggest that though both basketball and football require a lot of teamwork, basketball players are expected to be a lot more versatile than football players.

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Unless you're being asked to do some research as part of your compare/contrast project, make sure that you choose 2 things that you feel comfortable discussing, at length.