Nova A.
Nova A.

Learn How to Create a Compare and Contrast Essay Outline - With Examples & Tips

11 min read

Published on: Mar 23, 2018

Last updated on: Oct 31, 2023

compare and contrast essay outline

Compare and contrast essays are a common academic assignment that requires you to analyze the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. 

However, you need a strong outline as your foundation to craft a successful and compelling essay. Outlining organizes your points logically and makes your writing more coherent. 

So how do you start with making a good outline?

This blog will walk you through the steps of creating an effective compare and contrast essay outline. You’ll also get some helpful practical tips and examples along the way. 

Let’s get into it!

On This Page

What is a Compare and Contrast Essay Outline?

An outline for a compare and contrast essay aims to organize all the information in a readable manner. It's a roadmap that lays out how you organize and present your ideas.

Here are the main goals of an outline:

  • Clarity and Organization: An outline helps you organize your thoughts and ideas in a clear and structured manner. It ensures that all the ideas are presented in a systematic way.
  • Efficiency: Creating an outline streamlines the writing process. It saves you time by providing a clear direction. It keeps the writer focused on developing the main argument and supporting evidence.
  • Prevention of Overlooking Key Points: With a well-constructed outline, you're less likely to overlook essential points. It serves as a checklist for your essay, ensuring that it is comprehensive and balanced.

Two Types of Compare & Contrast Essay Structure

Before we dive into the outlining steps, you should know about the two main organizing strategies for this type of essay:

  1. Point-by-Point Structure (or organization by criteria)
  2. Block Method (or organization by item)

Each approach offers unique advantages and is suited to different writing situations. Let's explore these two structures in detail.

Point-by-Point Structure

The point-by-point structure involves comparing and contrasting specific aspects of your chosen subjects.

For instance, when comparing two car models point-by-point, you can first compare and discuss their fuel efficiency, then interior space, and finally compare and contrast their tech features.

This way, you proceed by covering each aspect at a time. Here is what this structure looks like:

Compare & Contrast Essay Point-by Point Outline Structure

- Introduction 

- Body Paragraph 1 - Point 1

  • Object A
  • Object B

- Body Paragraph 2 - Point 2

  • Object A
  • Object B

- Body Paragraph 3 - Point 3

  • Object A
  • Object B

- Conclusion 


Compare & Contrast Essay Point-by Point Outline Example

Essay About Car Model X and Car Model Y

- Introduction

- Body Paragraph 1: Fuel Efficiency 

  • Car Model X
  • Car Model Y
  • Discussion
  • Closure & Transition

- Body Paragraph 2: Comparing Interior Space

  • Car Model X
  • Car Model Y
  • Discussion
  • Closure & Transition

- Body Paragraph 3: Technology and Features

  • Car Model X
  • Car Model Y
  • Discussion
  • Closure & Transition

- Conclusion

Block Method

The block method, also known as organization by item, offers a different approach to structuring your compare and contrast essay. 

In this structure, you present all the information about one subject before moving on to the other, and finally compare and evaluate the subjects in the last paragraph before the conclusion. 

This straightforward approach is particularly useful when your subjects have few similarities and differences. Here’s an example of a block method compare and contrast:

Compare & Contrast Essay Block Method Outline

Structure

- Introduction 

- Paragraph 1 = Object A

  • Feature 1
  • Feature 2
  • Feature 3

- Paragraph 2 = Object B

  • Feature 1
  • Feature 2
  • Feature 3

- Paragraph 3 = Comparison of Object A & Object B

  • Comparison
  • Contrast
  • Analysis / Discussion

- Conclusion 


Compare & Contrast Essay Block Method Outline Example

Comparing Travel Destinations: Athens vs. Bangkok

- Introduction

- Body Paragraph 1: Athens, Greece

  • Topic Sentence introducing the subject (Athens)
  • Cultural attractions, landmarks
  • Historical sites
  • Cuisine

- Body Paragraph 2: Bangkok, Thailand

  • Topic Sentence introducing the subject (Bangkok)
  • Cultural attractions, landmarks
  • Historical sites
  • Cuisine

- Body Paragraph 3: Evaluation & Comparison

  • Topic Sentence introducing the comparison criteria
  • Comparing their attractions and landmarks
  • Comparing historical sites
  • Discussing their cuisine comparatively

- Conclusion

Now that you know about the two types of compare and contrast outlines, let’s move on to how to craft them.

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Compare & Contrast Outline 

Creating a compare and contrast essay outline may seem like a complex task, but fear not! Following these simple steps below will make outlining easier and smoother.

  • Step 1: Choose Your Subjects & Gather Information
  • Step 2: Identify Key Points of Comparison
  • Step 3: Develop a Thesis Statement
  • Step 4: Organize Your Outline 

Let’s get into each of these steps:

Step 1: Choose Your Subjects & Gather Information

The first and most crucial step is to select the subjects or topics you'll be comparing and contrasting. Make sure that your subjects are related and offer meaningful comparisons. 

Determine the purpose of your essay. Are you aiming to persuade, inform, or simply analyze? Understanding your purpose will help you gather relevant information about your subjects and shape your thesis statement.

Expert Tip

Looking for topic ideas? Find 100+ compare and contrast essay topics to write about.

Step 2: Identify Key Points of Comparison

Consider the aspects or criteria you'll use to compare and contrast your subjects. These will become the basis for your body paragraphs. Common approaches include similarities and differences in structure, content, historical context, or impact of your chosen subjects.

Step 3: Develop a Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is the heart of your essay. It should concisely state the main point or argument of your essay and provide a roadmap for what your readers can expect. Make sure it reflects the essence of your comparison.

Step 4: Organize Your Outline

Now, it's time to create the actual outline structure. There are three components of an essay outline:

  • Introduction
  • The main body
  • Conclusion

Start with the basic framework:

Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction

An essay introduction aims to present your compare and contrast subjects and provide some context.  

In the introduction part of your outline, you should add the following:

  • Hook Statement - A hook is the opening sentence of your essay that aims to catch the readers’ attention. Depending on the topic, choose a catchy statement for your introduction to make it interesting for the readers. 
  • Points about Significance/Context - To make your essay introduction strong and engaging, add the points about the context or significance of the topic to your outline.
  • Thesis Statement - A thesis statement is the writer’s main argument about the topic. 

Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction Outline

- Introduction

  • Add Hook Statement
  • Add Context / Significance
  • Add Thesis Statement

Compare and Contrast Essay Body Paragraphs

Before outlining your body paragraphs, choose one of the two structures described above. That is, choose whether you want to write your essay in a point-by-point structure or by the block method.

Here’s what to add to your body paragraph outline if it follows a point by point organization:

Compare and Contrast Body Paragraph Outline

Point-by-Point Method

- Body Paragraph 1 

  • Add Topic Sentence - Introduce the Criteria or Aspect of Comparison
  • Present Comparison
  • Provide Supporting Evidence / Discussion
  • Transition to the Next Paragraph

- Body Paragraph 2

  • Add Topic Sentence - Introduce the Criteria or Aspect of Comparison
  • Present Comparison
  • Provide Supporting Evidence / Discussion
  • Transition to the Next Paragraph

- Body Paragraph 3

  • Add Topic Sentence - Introduce the Criteria or Aspect of Comparison
  • Present Comparison
  • Provide Supporting Evidence / Discussion
  • Transition to the Next Paragraph

If you’re using the block method, here’s what your body paragraph outline should include:

Compare and Contrast Body Paragraph Outline

Block Method

- Body Paragraph 1 

  • Add Topic Sentence - Introduce Subject 1
  • Present its Characteristics 
  • Provide Supporting Evidence / Discussion
  • Transition to the Next Paragraph

- Body Paragraph 2 

  • Add Topic Sentence - Introduce Subject 2
  • Present its Characteristics 
  • Provide Supporting Evidence / Discussion
  • Transition to the Next Paragraph

- Body Paragraph 3 

  • Add Topic Sentence - Compare Subject 1 & Subject 2
  • Compare their Characteristics
  • Provide Analysis / Discussion
  • Transition to Conclusion

Conclusion 

In your outline for the conclusion, you should include the following components:

  • Restate the Thesis: Reiterate your thesis statement, emphasizing the main argument of your essay. This reinforces the central message you want your readers to take away.
  • Summarized Points: Summarize the points you made in the body paragraphs.
  • Final Insight or Observation: Add a final insight, observation, or thought to end the conclusion. This could be a reflection on the significance of your comparisons, a call to action, or a broader perspective on the topic.

Starting with gathering information and ending with a complete outline, these 4 easy steps will let you have a great start.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Examples

Here are some outline examples that will make it easy for you to understand the process described above. Check them out to see what your final outlines should look like.

Expert Tip

Want to read complete essays instead? Check out our blog on compare and contrast essay examples to read expertly written samples!

Tips for Making Better Compare and Contrast Outlines

Creating a compare and contrast essay outline is a crucial step in the essay-writing process. With the right tips, you can make your outlines more effective and efficient. 

Here are some valuable tips to help you craft better compare and contrast outlines:

  • Clarify Your Purpose: Before you start outlining, ensure you have a clear understanding of the purpose of your essay. Are you aiming to inform or analyze and evaluate? Your outline should align with your essay's objectives.
  • Choose the Right Structure: Select the structure (point-by-point or block method) that best suits your subjects and the nature of your comparison. Some topics may work better with one method over the other.
  • Be Consistent: Maintain consistency in your outline. Use the same format for each body paragraph, making it easier for you to stay organized and for your readers to follow your argument.
  • Prioritize Key Points: Not all comparisons and contrasts are of equal importance. Focus on the most significant aspects to avoid overwhelming your essay with minor details.
  • Balance Similarities and Differences: Ensure your outline includes a balanced mix of similarities and differences. This balance contributes to a well-rounded and persuasive essay.
  • Review and Revise: After creating your initial outline, take a step back and review it critically. Does it effectively convey your ideas? Are there any redundancies or gaps in your comparisons? Make revisions as needed.
  • Stay Focused: It's easy to get sidetracked when comparing and contrasting. Stick to your chosen criteria and avoid going off-topic in your outline.
  • Use Clear Language: Keep your outline concise and use clear, straightforward language. Avoid jargon or overly complex sentences that could confuse your readers.
  • Seek Feedback: If possible, share your outline with a peer or instructor for feedback. They can offer valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.

To Conclude,

Crafting a well-structured compare and contrast essay outline is a skill that can elevate your essays. We've explored the purpose, components, and step-by-step process for creating effective outlines. You’re now equipped to shape your ideas, organize your arguments, and guide your readers through compelling comparisons and contrasts. 

Remember, outlining isn't just a preliminary step; it's your blueprint for essay excellence. So utilize the steps and tips you learned above to craft excellent comparison essays!

Still, if you are looking for expert guidance and custom-written essays, MyPerfectWords.com is here for you. Just request us to “do my essay” and our professional writers will provide tailored essays within your deadline. 

So let our writing services ease your essay burden - Contact Now!

Nova A.

WRITTEN BY

Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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