Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

On Your Mark

Beginning a paper can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Keep in mind that writing a paper is not a race, but knowing where and how to begin will help keep you organized and save time. While starting a comparison paper might seem like a much easier task to tackle than a cause and effect paper, there are still some things to consider before moving forward with a comparison.

A comparison paper focuses on the similarities between two or more things. This might be a comparison of authors, sports teams, political figures, historical events, etc. Before you start your comparison paper, the most important thing to consider is the basis for comparison.

A Basis for Comparison

The basis for comparison is the reason you are writing the paper. There should be enough similarities among the things being compared to justify writing a comparison paper. If the things you are writing about are far more different than they are alike, you would instead write a contrast or compare/contrast paper. If you’re comparing sports teams, for example, you would probably compare teams for the same sport. For example, you might write a paper on how the Red Sox and the Yankees are the best teams in baseball. If you were to write a paper on the best teams, you probably wouldn’t write that the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots are the best teams because there are far more differences between them than there are similarities. Instead, you might write which city has the best sports franchises: Boston, New York, Atlanta, etc.

This is how you will identify your thesis or what the paper is about. A thesis typically answers a ‘Why’ question. For instance, why are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees the best teams in baseball?

Listing the Details

The next step in your comparison paper, before you actually start writing the paper, is to list the details that are worthy of comparison. You’ll have to conduct some research to find sources that will validate the details you use in your paper. Since you will be writing a comparison paper, any details that are contrasting or different will be omitted. You’ll want to focus solely on the similarities of the items you’ve chosen for your paper. When you’ve finished listing all of the details that are related, you’ll identify the most interesting and crucial details and move on to the next step, which is creating your outline.

Creating an Outline

An outline is a critical part of writing any paper. Outlines help you save time with writing by keeping your ideas organized. Outlines also help you stay on task. Basically, outlines are a map that will guide you through the actual writing process when it’s time to begin writing your paper. The first part of your outline will identify your topic and potential thesis for your paper. The subsequent sections of your outline will design the direction your paper is going. You might organize your paragraphs by topic. For example, if you’re writing about authors from a certain time period, you might use a detail for each author in each section of your outline. You might also dedicate each section of your outline to one specific author.

Lesson Summary

Writing a comparison paper can be an interesting way to show the similarities between people, events or other topics that share commonalities. The first and most important step in beginning a comparison paper is to identify the basis for comparison or the reason that the topics or items you are comparing are related enough for a comparison paper. This is how you will identify the thesis or what your paper will be about. The next step is to identify the similarities of your topics and list the details. Once you have listed the details, identify the most significant similarities between the items you’ve chosen for comparison. Finally, before beginning the actual writing of your paper, you should organize the most crucial similarities of the items in your comparison into an outline or a map of which direction your paper will follow.

Join the conversation