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Video:How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

with Meghan Lynn Allen

Writing a compare and contrast essay should not be more difficult than writing a traditional essay if you stick to some basic guidelines. This video breaks down the essay's structure and gives some brainstorming tips.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Hi! This is Meghan Lynn Allen for About.com, and today we'll discuss how to write a compare and contrast essay.

The Structure of a Compare and Contrast Essay

Writing a compare and contrast essay should not be more difficult than writing your traditional essay if you stick to some basic guidelines. The most important thing is structure.

Start with an introduction, just like a typical five-paragraph essay. Then you'll discuss topic number one vs. topic number two. Remember that you're comparing and contrasting, so each topic should be addressed individually, with only a slight reference to the other topic.

Now that you've analyzed topics one and two independently, you can analyze them together, and you can do this over one or several paragraphs. As you near the end of the essay, it's time for a compare and contrast conclusion. A strong conclusion is a reaffirmation of your thesis statement, and sometimes an additional interesting idea or something to think about.

Brainstorming a Topic to Compare and Contrast

Keep in mind that before you can get to that structure or sit down and start writing, you need something to write about. Why not try brainstorming? There are creative ways to brainstorm. You can look through some of your favorite magazines, rip out words and images that appeal to you, and create that as a starting point.

You can also do something called an idea cloud. Draw a cloud at the center of the page, and put your inspiration or initial idea. And draw little lines coming off of that cloud with smaller clouds, as a word association.

Or perhaps your kind of brainstorming is more logical. You can look online for free, printable templates of graphic organizers and comparison grids. And once you get the hang of them, you can even make your own.

Make Sure that Your Topic is Relevant

When you're choosing the topic of your essay, make sure it's relevant, personal or important to you. Perhaps the topic of school bullying is something you think should be addressed in the classroom. You could do an essay called School Bullies vs. Dictators. Or you could choose something that you're purely interested in - perhaps you've always wondered what it's like to live on a farm or live in a city.

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