Writing Well

Alike and Different: Comparison and Contrast

The Short History of Medicine
2000 B.C. Here, eat this root.
1000 A.D. That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 A.D. That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 A.D. That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 A.D. That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
2000 A.D. That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? When you compare, you show how things are alike. When you contrast, you show how they are different. Comparison and contrast is a useful way to organize many term papers, research reports, and feature articles.

Comparison-contrast essays can be organized two ways: point-by-point or chunk. In a point-by-point structure, you deal with each point in turn. In a chunk structure, you discuss one point completely before moving on to the next one. For example:

Point-by-Point Structure Chunk Structure
taxes: Town A, Town B Town A: taxes, education, recreation, jobs
education: Town A, Town B
recreation: Town A, Town B Town B: taxes, education, recreation, jobs
jobs: Town A, Town B

Use these transitions to emphasize similarities: like, likewise, similarly, in the same way, also, as, just as, both. Use these transitions to emphasize differences: instead, rather than, unlike, on the other hand, in contrast with, however, but.

How is the following passage structured, point-by-point, or chunk?

Build We Must

The chunk organization allows the writer to concentrate first on one topic and then the other. Notice how the writer used transitions to show points of similarity (“like”) and difference (“however”).

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Fun Driveway and Sidewalk Games for Kids
Looking for classic outdoor games kids can play in the driveway or on the sidewalk, just like the good ol' days? From hopscotch to bubble-blowing contests, there's something for all ages!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Best Sun Safety Practices for Babies
Follow these sun safety practices for babies to ensure your little one stays safe on the beach and on sunny days all year long.