How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
Academic writing tasks can be a real headache for most high school and college students. When initially receiving the task of writing a compare and contrast essay, the student will probably assume that the assignment will be a pushover. However, when they start, things turn out to be not as simple as once imagined. Like many other academic assignments, a compare and contrast essay must correspond to a certain structure and have a coordinated plan. Besides, this type of paper is a little different from other types of essays because it requires an ability to compare facts, highlighting the contrasting things, and must show student’s skills in information analysis. Thus, in order to write an authentic and good essay, you must have certain skills. In this article, we want to teach you some of them.
First, we shall understand how to start a compare and contrast essay
If you are trying to understand how to write a compare and contrast essay, and namely how to create interesting and outstanding work, you should start with identifying two or more subjects that have enough differences and similarities that make them amenable for a meaningful comparison. You have the full freedom of choice at this stage. For example, it can be two different characters from one book, actors or two football teams. Then, you should find at least a few points on which they may be compared by using the data found during the research, known facts, and examples that will help impress and captivate your readers.
Evaluate the question attentively!
As with any other academic paper, this one requires thorough knowledge of the topic. You may have lots of great compare and contrast essay ideas for writing, but if they do not correspond to a given topic, the essay will not earn you an A! Review the guiding questions (or title, if any) and underline the key points. Keep a list of them in front of you throughout the whole writing process, and it will help you stay focused on the given theme without deviating from it.What exactly does the teacher want to see in your work? What do you want to show? There is just one answer to both questions: just like other essays, this one strives to reveal your personal opinion about the problem, person, situation, etc.Remember, you cannot just say that the first character is good and the other one is bad. If you would like prove any particular one of the characters is better than the other one, you have to prove your point using facts from the book (if the characters are taken from there) that would provide objective characteristics of them.
Create a List of Similarities and Differences
Yes, in addition to comparisons, you still need to point out the contrasts! Therefore, the most effective way to begin the work on the essay is to make a detailed list of similarities and differences; it’ll be a kind of outline for your work that later will help you to write the paper faster.If you want to use a template to finish the paper sooner most likely you will not succeed because it’s assumed that the work will not just involve stereotyped comparisons, but will also reflect your individual point of view.
Evaluate this list
There is a possibility that you have missed out on something important! Carefully read the list again and try to see some logical pattern in the points, this will help you to decide what will serve as a basis for comparison.
Set the Basis for Comparison
By defining the basis, you set the context of comparison: how will the two objects be compared further? The basis for comparison should have a specific thesis or idea that determines the goals that a student is trying to pursue by comparing the two objects.The base for your paper can be a simple theory, question or problem. Most importantly, you have to be confident that the comparison of this chosen subjects can help you reach the writing goals that you have set, all the while answering the main question by proving your theory or offering solutions to the problem.
Study the compared objects
In order to compare objects or characters properly, you have to study them. Being meticulous in characterizing traits is important. There might be more sides to the person, problem or situation that have not been properly considered. For example, we have Robin Hood. He was a robber and a thief; however, he was always considered as a positive, kind and honest character. Then, we can take the automobile engine as another example. the engine does not have a big volume (cubic centimeters) does not mean that it is not powerful and so on.As you can see, half of your success depends on the chosen topic, so you will have to analyze, characterize and compare chosen subjects depending on the topic.
Writing the work
The compare and contrast essay has a similar structure to other essays and consists of three parts and generally can fit into 5 paragraphs. To give you a better understanding of how to write this type of work, we will give a full description to each part.
1) Introductory Clause (Introduction)
This part introduces the reader to the essay topic and leads to the disclosure of key aspects of the work. You can explain the theme of the work, reveal its essence, and ask the question, which should be answered in the main body part and summarized in the conclusion. Let’s say you are comparing two characters from the book. In this case, your intro can explain to the reader what the book is about and tell a bit about each character that you are planning to compare. To finish of the intro paragraph, put together an informative thesis that will be proven in your body paragraphs. This statement should highlight the key aspects that come from comparing the two parties!
2) Main clause (Body Paragraphs)
This is a foundation of the work and therefore, is the most important part of the composition. It reveals the topic and explains the essence of the work. In the beginning, you should describe characters in details. Briefly describe events that occurred with them and the actions of these characters, giving them a preliminary assessment. In this part of the work, you will be comparing your objects by providing examples, facts and arguments that should persuade the reader to your point of view. However, you should not make any specific statements yet.
3) Final clause
Just like the intro, your final clause should not be too long. The conclusion should present a concise summary of the whole work and draw logical conclusions considering everything that was stated in the paper earlier. To get a high grade for this work, a student must ensure that the conclusion of his essay is logical, laconic and straight to the point. Here you can give the final characterization of your subjects, for example, stating some of their key qualities in comparison to each other. To fully complete your work, offer a overall significance statement that describes the importance of the research you have done and of the conclusions you have made!
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Nowadays we are all quite aware that everything requires formatting, even our computers. Funny enough the idea behind formatting your computer and papers are rather similar but need a entirely different approach. Quite often we hear from our teachers, ever since high school and well into our college years, always asking students to use proper essay format. This may be problematic at first since each lecturer may ask for a different formatting style, which may end up confusing you.Understandably that might sound odd at first, but that is done to create a standardized way of checking academic articles. If everybody used their own individual formats and referencing styles, then it would be rather difficult to establish the reliability of the work. However, there is no need to worry even if you find yourself asking ‘How to format a college essay’, since our experts have put together this guide to explain all the most popular styles in a quick and efficient manner.
In the off chance you are new to academic writing or the content of a college essay format then we suggest initially having a look at our guide on how to write an essay.
What is an Essay Format?
Before exploring what the most encountered essay format styles are, firstly we must understand why academic institutions make such a requirement. In essence, what formatting an assignment means is structuring it in such a way as to organize a coherent set of ideas into a logical smooth flowing argument. That is one of the main reasons behind why academic papers present one idea at a time in a linear fashion. This keeps the subject matter from becoming too complicated for the reader to comprehend. A successful basic essay format will manage to lead its reader down the narrative of its argument without confusing them.
Nonetheless, after having understood this concept, it is time to apply it to some of the most popular formatting styles in academia discussed below.
Most Common College Essay Formats
As we proceed with our examination of the most encountered formatting styles in the academic community, it is important to take into account that you will probably be faced with all of them at one point or another. Thus, without any further distractions let us begin by firstly investigating what an MLA format essay should look like and contain.
What MLA stands for in this case is the Modern Language Association and was created with the purpose of exchanging scholarly articles and educational research in a universal manner amongst academics. Luckily Microsoft Word 2007 provides you with the majority of the essay format requirements directly. But despite the luxury given to us by modern technology below are the fundamental essentials that must be in every MLA style article:
- All the paragraphs must be double-spaced.
- Use only one-inch margins.
- On the first page of the MLA format essay include the names of the author, professor, course and lastly date the paper was submitted.
- The page number must be aligned on the right side margin exactly the one-half inch from the top of every page.
- The bibliography and any references used must be presented according to the MLA Citations Requirements.
- Any citations that are used must be associated with parentheses in the body of the work. It is expected to have a separate citations page if your paper includes paraphrases, summaries or quotations.
- If the assignment is a research paper, then a title page will be required with all the introductory information on it. Additionally, a table of content will be necessary following the title page in every MLA format essay.
Secondly, we will be examining the APA essay format. The acronym APA stands for American Psychological Association and was established after the MLA system as this particular group saw the MLA style as being too complicated. Nonetheless, despite that, both methods revolve around the idea of maintaining a standardized way of presenting your work regarding its content, structure, referencing style and so on. This standardization for this style goes as follows:
- Each assignment must contain at least four key sections, namely Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, References.
- Make use of one-inch margins on all sides including top and bottom.
- When starting a new paragraph, 1st word must have a one-half inch indentation from the margin.
- When adopting the APA essay format then one must use the instances New Roman font size 12.
- All paragraphs must be double-spaced.Include a running header on every page. To keep this as convenient as possible set your word processor to display it on every page automatically.
- If the concept of a running header is new to you, all versions of Microsoft Office from 2007 onward have this option thus making it quite easy to get that sorted for all APA essay formats.
The Chicago essay format, sometimes also referred to as Turabian, is quite similar to the previously discussed MLA style. It is important to note that Turabian style is considered a modified version of the Chicago essay format. What sets this particular group apart from the others are fundamental differences in the papers styling, presentation of sources, running headers amongst other elements that will be explored below.
- All paragraphs must be double-spaced, but it is acceptable to single space the sources in your bibliography leaving a blank line between entries to save up some room.
- Luckily Microsoft Word 2007 users do not have to alter their margins as their original default settings are the correct ones. In case you need to set them up, make use of 1-inch margins, however, do not align the right margin.
- 1st sentence of each new paragraph must be indented by pressing the Tab key once
- Make use of footnotes if you paraphrase or quote when referencing your sources.
- Bibliographies do not have to be listed alphabetically but should consist of the material used throughout the text.
- There is no need to bold or underline the title on the title page. It is only double spaced if it is more than one line.
- The date must be presented in the Month Day Year format in contrast to the other formal essay formats.
- Same rules as in the MLA style apply regarding the use of other works titles. These titles must be either put in quotation marks or italicized according to what is preferred.
- It is expected that all pages, except the title page, be numbered in the top right corner of each page. Preceding the number should be the student’s last name. Therefore, each assignment will start with the first page of text being number two.
Every time you choose to place an order for an MLA format essay or an APA essay format regardless of the topic the transaction is subject to the EssayHub’s Code of Conduct available online. This is done to protect you while making sure you have the best possible customer experience.
MLA vs. APA, which is better?
Having understood the main differences between these styles, we now find ourselves asking which one is better and why. Before diving too deep into such a controversial topic, students must be aware that most of the time lectures will dictate the particular formatting style that they would like to see in the paper. In the off chance that this is not mentioned that does not mean that the required form is unknown or hard to establish. Mostly either formal essay format may be determined and linked to what the focus of the assignment is.
What that means is that APA Format Essay Examples include topics from general social science fields such as:
- Social Work
- Businesses (where timely sources are more important than old works)
On the other hand what the MLA Format Essay Examples deal with is mostly in the humanities subject matter, generally revolving around:
- The arts
Remember that old classical sources are still just as relevant as the up and coming modern articles.
Nonetheless, it is visible that the fields both styles explore are delightfully different. What is vital is appreciating that these differences do not necessarily make them better or worse, simply more useful under a particular set of circumstances. Understandably that it can be quite frustrating to lose points in your assignments over small formatting errors, despite the well thought out ideas. This can be easily avoided by carefully distinguishing what these differences are between what an MLA Format Essay Example entails as well as an APA Format Essay Example. Thus, one of the best approaches to explain these subtleties in our experience is by segmenting them into five sections observed up by actual visual examples for the students to consult.
In an APA format essay example, the assignment does not contain titles in quotation marks and also only capitalizes 1st word of the sentence. On the other hand, MLA styling requires the author to include all article titles in quotation marks with all the keywords capitalized.
Correct Entry Order in a Bibliographic List
Curiously enough the APA approach requires all sources used in the bibliography to be listed alphabetically by author, then chronologically by work. The MLA format essay example indicates that sources must be listed alphabetically by author and following that they must be sorted alphabetically by title.
Presenting Multiple Works By The Same Author
While confronting the APA essay format, it is quite straightforward to handle this section because all you have to do is list the works chronologically and repeat the name for all these entries. However, while taking a look at how this section is undertaken for MLA things get slightly more complicated. The first listing should display all the information regarding the work and the author in alphabetical order. Any other works or entries from said author will contain three hyphens ( a period, space, the name of the title followed by a full stop).
Use of In-Text Parenthesis
The main contributor to the stylistic difference here is created by the focus placed in your MLA format essay on classical older sources while its counterpart finds its inspiration in modern articles and publications. The accepted display for MLA is a name and page number with space in between, nonetheless APA requires you to present the name, year and page number all with a comma in between the enumeration.
Authors, Editors and Compilers Accreditation
In this section, we can clearly distinguish the differences between APA and MLA. When presenting one’s selected authors, editors and compilers according to the MLA college essay format, this is firstly presented to the reader using a brief mentioning in parenthetical citations followed by the complete information of the resource in the Bibliography section. Other details that must be included only concern editors or compilers as they must be followed up by the abbreviation ‘ed.’ or ‘comp.’ respectively. As for the APA essay format, one should include the editors, authors and compilers in A references list rather than a Bibliography. When presenting names of people referenced throughout the paper the correct format starts with Last Name, First Initial and lastly the Middle Initial if any is available.
APA and MLA Format Example
Here you may find assistance in terms of how one should approach their sources, title pages and an idea on how to structure an abstract with concrete examples. From all that has been discussed so far about both the MLA format essay as well as the APA essay format we can all agree that most official academic work requires referencing to back up the statements being made by the student throughout his or her paper. But as we all know these highly technical exercises are easily described and quite hard to do when it comes to making it happen.
So let’s get started by looking at how things should be displayed in your Bibliography in the case of MLA and Reference List for APA. In order to do so, we will be looking at how the same academic source is presented for each one in particular. The examples of sources we will be taking a look at for either your MLA Format Essay Example or APA Format Essay Example are books, newspaper articles and multimedia sources.
1st and most popular type of sources are books making this a crucial part of your academic career. Below you will see how Glen Arnold’s Corporate Financial Management textbook should be referenced in every using both college essay formats.
Next, we will visually examine what an online article written by Lauren Alpe on the history of corporate giant Amazon.com should look like in both formal essay formats.
Lastly one of the most predominant multimedia sources are online documentaries. Whether you obtain these from YouTube or the official publishers such as National Geographic or the BBC, the referencing process is the same. Nonetheless, it is best to get them from the official source as this will give you all the details you need. The example below is a World War 2 Miniseries episode published by National Geographic.
Further information on how to create an annotated bibliography can be found in our in-depth article about Annotated Bibliographies.
The Disadvantage of Standardization
To wrap things up, it is quite clear that using the APA essay format in terms of structuring is far less problematic and confusing than its counterpart the MLA format essay. Nonetheless, similar shortcomings may be pointed out for both formatting styles. Overall, it seems that no matter which style is adopted the end result will require significant time devoted to perfecting its appearance and content. Thus it is safe to say that the biggest concern in either scenario is the availability of time as well as understanding the limitations of each type. There are other college essay format referencing styles, but they are not used by academic institutions very often due to the fact that APA and MLA have become a global standard. This standardized process tends becoming a disadvantage in itself because it is turning into a monopoly of the referencing methods. The main reason why monopolies become a disadvantage is because there is no incentive for innovation, nonetheless they have provided the academic community with a means to share their articles globally.