Creating A 5-Paragraph Compare And Contrast Essay: List Of Formatting Rules 


A 5-paragraph essay is a classic format for academic compositions. It consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. If you keep to this basic structure, it won’t be difficult to craft a well-organized piece of writing on any topic. However, if you should write a compare and contrast paper, your 5-paragraph writing assignment may turn into a puzzle. While it is more or less clear what your introduction and conclusion should include, the task of comparing and contrasting in the remaining three body paragraphs may make you feel embarrassed. Fortunately, nothing is impossible. The following rules will help you create a strong 5-paragraph compare and contrast essay without much effort:

  1. Present your topic in an introduction.
    • Start your introduction broad. Introduce your topic with a catchy phrase or an intriguing question. This strategy will help you hook the reader from the very first words.
    • Identify who or what you are going to compare and contrast in your paper.
    • Focus on the specific aspects to be compared and contrasted. This will be your thesis statement.
  2. Compare and contrast in the body of your essay.
    • Use a point-by-point format to analyze three aspects of the items being compared.
    • This is the most suitable pattern if the items are rather similar by their nature. For example, if you compare and contrast your pets (two cats or dogs), you may focus on the following criteria: their habits, food preferences, and leisure styles. Each body paragraph will describe one specific criterion and it will include both similarities and differences.

    • Use a block format to compare and contrast three items.
    • If there are too many criteria to consider or the items being compared are very different, the point-by-point pattern won’t suit your needs. Use the block format in this situation. You will have to focus on one item in a separate paragraph. The number of body paragraphs will depend on the number of items being compared. Therefore, to fit the 5-paragraph format, you should compare and contrast three items. For example, these may be three books by the same author, or three friends of yours who are not at all alike.

      • Wrap up your essay in a conclusion.
    • Restate your thesis. Do not simply summarize the main points you made, but combine them with the information from the body paragraphs.
    • Evaluate what has been just discussed. What do these differences and similarities mean?
    • Explain why the differences are significant. Leave some food for thought.

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