Being able to write a successful comparison and contrast essay is an important skill not only when writing academically. Many people find themselves having to create similar documents in the workplace. For example, companies must aid customers in comparing and contrasting products, and medical professionals must advise patients about the pros and cons of various treatments or medications.

Topic Choice

You might compare and contrast characters in a book, or a book and a movie made based on the same story.

The first step in writing a comparison and contrast essay is choosing a topic that lends itself well to the style and is relevant to your assignment. For example, comparing and contrasting complex, related (but not too similar) issues provides the most interesting essays. Good choices include: a movie and the novel it’s based on, genres of music or film, characters in a book or movie or political parties.


After making your selection, ask yourself how the two things, concepts or people you’re comparing are similar and different. You can evaluate them to see which is superior, but you don’t have to focus on ranking them. Instead, you may want to ask what qualities each of them has separately, and then see which qualities they have in common. While you don’t have to write down these issues to consider them, jotting down some notes may help you keep these ideas in mind.


Before actually writing the essay, you may want to construct an outline. There are a couple of common ways to do this. Prewriting is a great way figure out the best way to lay out your ideas, and to organize your thoughts into the logical pattern of your essay.

First, the standard outline, would construct the body of the essay like this:

A. How Z is different from Y 1. Subtopic 2. Next Subtopic

B. How Y is different from Z 1. Subtopic 2. Next Subtopic

C. How Z and Y are similar 1. Subtopic 2. Next Subtopic

Second, if the standard outline doesn’t work for you, a chart may work better. Take a piece of paper and turn it so the paper is wider than it is tall. Fold the paper into thirds, so you have three equal columns. In the first column, make a list of what is unique about the first topic. In the second column, make a list of what is unique about the second topic. In the third column, make a list of what the two topics have in common.


Once you know what you plan to write about in your essay, constructing an effective thesis statement is the next step in the process. Ideally, the thesis is a concise overview of your essay. This sentence should include the topic and briefly mention the main points of the similarities and differences you’ll focus on in the paper. .