Comparison reports examine a few items and inform the reader of the similarities and differences between the things being compared. Their purpose almost always is to determine which items are higher in quality than others, for example, comparing products that a consumer wants to buy. However, some comparisons try to do the opposite, showing how two seemingly different things are really similar. For instance, a negotiator may want to show opposing sides that each side shares many values.
Writing a Comparison Report
Decide what you want to compare and find items that are in the same class. For example, there is not much point in comparing the capabilities of a $200 cell phone with those of a $30 model. It makes more sense to group all the high-end and all the low-end items together, so that buyers at each end of the market can compare the features in their price range.
List all of the features of the first item in some logical order, and then write about all of the other items' features in the same order. For example, you might discuss cell phone A’s cost, availability and battery in one paragraph, cell phone B’s same features in the next paragraph, and so forth. Or, discuss one feature of all of the items. For instance, discuss the costs for all three of the cell phones that you will cover in the first paragraph. In the next paragraph, discuss the battery capabilities of all three.
Discuss how you examined or tested the items. Try to give each item equal treatment in terms of how it was observed. It would not be fair, for example, to compare a phone that you own to one that you have never seen. At the very least, you should mention the differences in process to the comparison’s audience.
Analyze the items according to the purpose of your comparison. If you are writing about products, the buyers will want to know which item is the best buy. If you are writing about your three children, however, the goal might be to champion each one equally. In any event, when analyzing the comparison, keep your goals and your audience’s needs firmly in mind.
Write using detailed descriptions, appealing, when relevant, to all five senses, taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell. Most writers focus mainly on sight, since we are so visual, but how something feels in the hand can be important, as are odors. Good comparisons are not vague, and details erase vagueness.
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