What Does It Look Like?

Select the video below to see a presentation which will provide you with a basic outline for developing a compare and contrast essay.

Video Transcript
Outline for a Five Paragraph Compare & Contrast Essay

In a basic five paragraph compare and contrast essay, you will follow a traditional structure common to most academic essays. You will have an introduction, plus body paragraphs, plus your conclusion.

In this example outline for a compare and contrast essay, we will use the topic Comparing Online and Face-to-Face School. Remember, a good thesis in a traditional essay always makes some kind of assertion.

A good compare and contrast thesis that might work well within this topic would be: After comparing the pros and cons of both online and face-to-face college options, I realized an online college was the best choice for me.

Now we will take a look at how we could outline our introduction using our thesis with the goal of writing a compare and contrast essay. A good introduction provides background on a topic, transitions to the thesis, and then presents the thesis.

In this example, we would provide background about the need to research both online and face-to-face education and make a decision. We should give our audience some context for the comparison.

Next, we should provide the personal needs we want to consider, as this is the basis, or focus, of our comparison.

Finally, we present our thesis.

It is important to note as you think about a compare and contrast essay, you should think about giving context and purpose for your comparison. You do not want an essay that simply lists similarities and differences for no clear reason.

The body paragraphs for our essay comparing and contrasting online and face-to-face education could follow this order.

First, we will establish what we need or want from a school, which will form the focus for the compare and contrast.

Then, the easiest thing to do is to focus on online education in one paragraph and then face-to-face education in the next.

In a compare and contrast essay, you do have options about how you organize your body. You can organize it by the things you are comparing, which we have done here, or by certain points in your criteria for the comparison.

A good conclusion will generally reinforce information from the body of the essay and remind readers of the thesis. In the outline for our conclusion, we should summarize our needs for the comparison and then the findings from that comparison. Finally, we should leave the audience with a reminder about our thesis.

Remember, you should not repeat the exact words of your thesis in your conclusion, but you should emphasize the main point.

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