COMPARISON--CONTRAST


	We use methods of comparison and contrast every day. These methods are used to decide a wide range of situations, such as
where we want to live, what friends or clothes to select, and even what sports team to support. As a technique of essay writing, comparison and contrast takes similar or different things and studies them. In other words, comparison shows
likenesses between things; whereas contrast shows their differences. It is not enough, however, to merely sight similarities or differences. The writer of such a paper should not just state the differences between high school and college.
He or she should show why these differences are important, unusual, or startling. The thesis of the essay must show a purpose for the comparison and contrast, and the rest of the paper should support that purpose.


PRINCIPLES

	There are several principles of comparison and contrast writing that writers need to keep in mind.

 FIRST, they must select a topic properly. Any topic for comparison/contrast should be worth writing about and be relevant. Consider, for example,
 the uselessness of comparing two soft drink bottles. Most readers would respond with, "Who cares?"

 SECOND, no one paper can compare and contrast any topic entirely, and if it could its purpose would be meaningless. Instead, the general thrust of the paper should be either comparison or contrast.
 If, for instance, a paper is primarily a contrast paper, then comparisons between the topics appear early in the paper. Then follow with the contrasts.

 THIRD, comparison and contrast often incorporate other techniques or modes. A writer often may need to rely in part on narration, description, or definition.

CONVENTIONS

1. Knowing your interests may be helpful when selecting topics for comparison/contrast. If you are interested in biology, then
you may want to compare different species. But if you are not interested, avoid such a topic.



2. Comparison and contrast papers are organized in one of the following patterns.

	Parallel pattern - In using this pattern, the author says all he or she has to

	Topic A
		quality
		quality
		quality

	Topic B
		quality
		quality
		quality

	Point by Point - This method organizes by quality, not topic

 Quality __
 Topic A |
 Topic B |--> A & B in one paragraph
 --
 Quality __
 Topic A |
 Topic B |--> A & B in one paragraph
 --
When using this method, the writer must keep the same order of topics in each paragraph. He or she should not, for example, cover topic A first in one paragraph and topic B first in another.

	Sentence by Sentence - This method is very similar to the point by point method. It differs, however, in that in each paragraph on a particular quality the sentence alternate between topics.

 Quality __
 Topic A |
 Topic B |--> in one paragraph
 Topic A |
 Topic B |
 --
 Quality __
 Topic A |
 Topic B |--> in one paragraph
 Topic A |
 Topic B |
 --
3. Make a concerted effort to use effective transitions between points. You might find some of these words helpful: on one hand, similarly, nevertheless, consequently, however, moreover, furthermore, conversely, the fact that, neither...nor,
either...or, hence, while, yet.

4. Remember that one of the purposes of comparison and contrast is to inform. Poor topic choice or poor organization will distract instead of inform.


STRATEGIES

1. Clarify a complex topic by comparing or contrasting it with one easily understandable to the reader. For example, you might want to compare learning to write (complex topic) with learning to ride a bicycle (easily understood). You could develop the
paper by paragraphs which prove that like writing, biking has definite rules, steps, fallbacks and skills.

2. Answer a present sociological or historical issue by comparing or contrasting your solution to solutions tried in the past.

3. Be sure to back up your comparison or contrast with enough examples to make your purpose clear and logical.

4. Check your organizational pattern. Be sure to stick to one pattern; it is confusing to the reader to mix patterns.

5. The conclusion of a comparison and contrast paper should not be merely a summary of the points you have already made. In the conclusion you can reiterate the relevance, propose an action, stimulate the reader or make a generalization. All of these
strategies, among others, conclude instead of summarize.



This handout adapted and revised by the Washburn University Writing Center from one originally prepared by the Purdue University Writing Lab, West Lafayette, IN in 1982. [org-compare.wm.txt]