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The Purpose Of A Compare And Contrast Essay: Academic Writing Tips

When writing this type of paper, the reader doesn’t want to hear about the obvious. That would just be a waste of your time as the writer and their time as the reader. For example, if you are comparing and contrasting fruits and vegetables, you wouldn’t state the obvious such as fruits are generally sweeter. That’s something everyone is assumed to know already. If it was important to state it as part of another more interesting contrast, then don’t dwell too much on it and get on to the more interesting part.

It’s better to illuminate the unexpected similarities or the subtle differences, things the reader may not have thought of before. Comparison shows the similarities whereas contrasting shows the differences. Your paper may use both of these strategies or just one of them. A really effective paper can incorporate both of them.

Here are some academic writing tips to get you started:

  • Choose two items from the same category. For example, you could write about Wordsworth and Coleridge, who were both famous poets. You could pull out the similarities and/or differences in their styles of writing. They are both poets. However, you wouldn’t be able to effectively do the same thing with a poet and a politician.
  • Engage in some critical thinking. Don’t just give a summary or description about your subjects. You want to uncover something a little unusual or surprising to enlighten your reader with.
  • Do some pre-writing. This step will get your creative juices flowing and serve in helping you to determine if the subjects you’ve chosen really have enough things in common to make a good connection between.
  • Draw out your topic. If you put fruit in one large circle and then draw an overlapping circle with the word vegetables, you could then write down all the details that only belong to fruit in the part of the circle not circumscribed by the vegetables circle. Then put the similarities in the center, where the two circles overlap. Write down details about vegetables in the part of its circle and soon you will see you can use partially overlapping circles to compare and contrast any two subjects quickly and easily so you can see at a glance what you have to build a paper on. This is called a Venn diagram.
  • Make sure you know what to focus on. What matters the most in your paper? Have you met all your teacher’s requirements?

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