The Block Method on Writing an Essay

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There are many ways of organizing a comparison and contrast essay. One of the most popular is the block method, also known as the summary approach or the one side at a time approach. The writer provides an introduction stating the comparisons, the contrasts and the thesis statement. Then, the writer provides body paragraphs detailing the similarities and another body paragraphs explaining the differences. Following the body paragraphs is a conclusion that paraphrases the essay and the thesis statement.

1 Doing the Block Method

The block method works best on short papers about simple topics. To do the block method, first write an introduction. In the introduction, draw the reader’s attention, give background information, state the two things being compared and contrasted, and provide a thesis statement. Using the introduction as a blueprint, write paragraphs about the comparisons. Then, write paragraphs about the differences. After completing all body paragraphs, write a conclusion that ties in all your points and restates your thesis. In addition to comparison and contrast essays, you can use the block method in essays weighing disadvantages and advantages.

2 Brainstorming

If you are planning to write an essay in the block format, you must first brainstorm for ideas. The most common method for a comparison and contrast is a Venn diagram. To do a Venn diagram, draw two big circles that overlap in the middle. In the circle on the left, write the unique features of side A. In the circle on the right, write the unique features of side B. In the middle, the place of overlap, write the similar features of sides A and B.

Other brainstorming methods are simply listing all the thoughts that come to mind with little attention paid to organization. Another, more organized, brainstorming method is arranging ideas into clusters.

While brainstorming, do not censor yourself. Get something down on paper as quickly as possible.

3 Ensuring Unity

Although essays written in block format can be well written and effective, the biggest hurdle is disunity. You never want to jump from point to point. To avoid disunity, use transitional phrases, such as “in addition,” “furthermore,” “moreover,” “in contrast,” “similarly,” “however,” and “nevertheless” from paragraph to paragraph. Another way to transition is by linking ideas. For example, briefly mention the very last idea from a previous paragraph in the first few sentences of the next paragraph.

4 Other Methods

The block method is not the only way of writing a comparison and contrast essay. In the point-by-point method, each paragraph gives a point (or idea) and its similarities and contrasts. In the combination method, you combine the point-by-point method with the block method.

Therese Rochon is a college student and freelance writer from St. Louis. She is studying English and Spanish literature at Washington University and plans to attend law school in the future. She speaks two languages and, in 2011, will au pair in Europe to learn two more languages. She has been writing online since 2005.