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Compare/Contrast Papers: Home

Outlines, tips, and prewriting skills for compare/contrast paper or assignments.

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What is a compare/contrast paper?

A compare/contrast paper looks at ways that certain things or ideas are similar (compare) or different (contrast).  It is designed to help you gain a deeper understanding of not only two items you are comparing but also to better understand themes in your other coursework and assignments. 

Why develop this skill?

This paper style is helpful in learning how to make connections between texts or ideas and encourages you to go beyond memorization of facts by encouraging critical thinking skills.  This is a life skill that can help you any time you need to make a choice, whether it’s purchasing a new car, shopping for insurance, or even choosing a home.  

Recognizing compare/contrast assignments

Most assignments use very clear language when it comes to telling you expectations—compare, contrast, similarities, and differences. Some assignments will only ask for compare or contrast while others will want a combination of both. 

However, sometimes the wording is not clear.  For example:

  • How do the author’s we’ve described so far differ on their definition of happiness?
  • Choose a digital marketing tactic such as Facebook ads or Twitter campaigns and consider how they can be received by two different demographics.

While the question does not directly ask for compare/contrast, both examples are asking you to do just that.  It is important to fully read your assignment to understand what is expected of your work.

Getting Started

Research assignments can be difficult to begin, especially if you are not sure how to get started.  This guide is intended to help you with the prewriting process of compare/contrast papers.

For more research and writing help, check out the guides below.

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