Begin by choosing a topic for your comparison/contrast essay. You are free to select your own topic, or you may use one of the sample topics listed below. However, you should choose a topic that you have knowledge of so that you have sufficient points of comparison or contrast to discuss in your essay. You will need to compare or contrast two or three primary points about the two subjects you choose to write about, resulting in an essay with either four or six body paragraphs, an introductory paragraph, and a conclusion.
Compare or contrast two cities you’ve visited or that you’ve lived in
Compare or contrast two members of your family
Compare or contrast two sources of news
Compare or contrast two singers in different music genres
Compare or contrast two historical figures
Compare or contrast two artists (for example, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso or Keith Haring and Andy Warhol)
Compare or contrast two eras in time
Compare or contrast two television series
Compare or contrast two types of technologies (for example, Android and Apple phones or PlayStation and Xbox)
Compare or contrast two medical topics (for example, traditional medicine and modern medicine or doctors and midwives)
Remember that the two subjects you choose should have a meaningful connection so that you can draw comparisons or contrasts between the two.
Your thesis should convey the main idea of the essay and clearly articulate what two topics you are comparing/contrasting. Because you are writing in the informative mode for this essay, you should use objective language. Remember that for this essay, you are not trying to persuade or convince the audience that one thing is better or worse than the other; you are instead informing the reader about the similarities or differences between the two subjects in an objective manner.
Please note that if you use information from any outside sources, you will need to cite them. Plagiarism is not acceptable in academic writing. The following resources will be helpful to you if you need to cite any sources:
Purdue Online Writing Lab’s APA Formatting and Style Guide
This site includes a comprehensive overview of APA style, as well as individual pages with guidelines for specific citation types.
Frequently Asked Questions About APA Style
This page on the official APA website addresses common questions related to APA formatting. The “References,” “Punctuation,” and “Grammar and Writing Style” sections will be the most useful to your work in this course.
APA Style: Quick Answers—References
This page on the official APA Style website provides numerous examples of reference list formatting for various source types.
B. Think About Your Writing
After you’ve drafted your essay, answer the following questions about your writing. Include answers to all of the questions below your essay.
1. Did you use the point-by-point or block method to organize your body paragraphs? What made you decide to organize your essay in this way (3-4 sentences)? Sophia says: Consider the ways a comparison/contrast essay can be organized. Which organization did you choose and why?
2. In what ways did writing a comparison/contrast essay differ from the Narrative essay you wrote in Touchstone 1? Give specific examples (3-4 sentences). Sophia says: Consider how the structure, point of view, and purpose of the two essays differ.
3. Remember that the writing process is a recursive process, and your first draft of an essay is rarely your last. What part of the draft did you struggle with (3-4 sentences)? Sophia says: Think about how you could improve the draft if you continued the writing process with revision and editing.
C. Comparison/Contrast Guidelines
Refer to the checklist below throughout the writing process. Do not submit your Touchstone until your draft meets all of the guidelines.
Elements of a Comparison/Contrast Essay
❒ Are there significant points of comparison or contrast between the two subjects you have selected?
❒ Do you make clear comparisons or contrasts between the two subjects within the body paragraphs of the essay?
❒ Are the body paragraphs organized either by point or by subject?
❒ Have you used transitional words or phrases to indicate points being compared or contrasted?
❒ Does the essay have a clear and consistent focus of comparing and contrasting two subjects?
❒ Have you included a clear, focused, and detailed thesis statement?
❒ Does your thesis state the subjects to be compared or contrasted and include the two or three points of comparison or contrast?
❒ Is your thesis a single sentence located in the introductory paragraph?
❒ Is there an introductory paragraph that contains your thesis statement?
❒ Are there four or six total body paragraphs, each with a clear topic sentence?
❒ Is there a conclusion paragraph with a concluding statement?
❒ Have you used transitions to connect ideas between sentences and paragraphs?
Style and Tone
❒ Is the tone of the essay objective and informative?
❒ Have you carefully considered your word choices?
❒ Is the purpose of your essay clearly to inform the reader about the similarities or differences between the two subjects?
❒ Have you checked your essay for grammatical and mechanical errors?
❒ Have you used spell check or another method to check spelling?
Before you Submit
❒ Have you included your name, date, and course at the top left of the page?
❒ Have you completed the “Think About Your Writing” questions?
❒ Is your essay between 3-4 pages (approximately 700-1000 words)?
Your essay will be scored according to the Touchstone 2.1 Rubric, which considers required elements for a comparison/contrast essay, the thesis statement, focus, organization, style and tone, conventions, and answers to the “Think About your Writing” questions above.