Writing Compare and Contrast Papers
Purpose: What decision needs to be made
Who are the decision makers (audience)? Analyze their knowledge level with respect to the subjects, criteria, and decision that will be made.
What are the subjects? How many subjects?
What criteria need to be evaluated by the decision maker before the decision can be made? Select criteria based on the decision that needs to be made.
Do you have any secondary audiences? If so, what is their role in the decision making process?
Outline an Intro-Body-Conclusion structure.
The introduction section must
Comparison/Contrast Body Sections
The support sections contain the comparison/contrast. Introduce each criterion and present the comparison. Compare/contrast papers are traditionally objective, so do not make the decision for the reader.
There are two organization methods (see Figure 1):
Whole-by-whole method – or Subject-by-subject – covering one subject at a time and cover the criteria in the same order, applying it consistently for each subject.
Part-by-part method – or Point-by-point – covering one criterion at a time and evaluate the criterion consistently for each subject, always covering the subjects in the same order.
Choose one method and stick with it. The method you choose must be obvious. Use headings to assist the reader.
Figure 1: Outlines for Whole-by-whole and Part-by-part C/C Papers
Once you understand writing compare and contrast using the sample outline, it’s possible to combine these models.
Your Conclusion section sums up the criteria that your audience needs to consider when making the decision. Do not reiterate the comparison in the conclusion. The conclusion could include a separate recommendation section.