Before writing a comparative essay, authors might want to consider important choices that life has offered them. Everyone has experienced the anxiety of making a major purchase and has no doubt compared two or more of the possible choices. A paper on laptop computers and e-book readers, or one on hybrid cars and SUVs, for example, might make good essay topics.
Most well-structured comparative essays follow one of two formats. A point-by-point essay establishes three or more areas in which the subjects will be compared. One paragraph is devoted to each point and discusses both subjects. A side-by-side essay also establishes three or more areas for subject comparison, but the format is different. With this type of essay, one long paragraph or section examines the first subject, moving from the first point to the second, from the second to the third, and then does the same with the second subject in the same order.
Writing a good comparative essay begins with choosing a topic that is truly of interest to the writer and, hopefully, to the reader. A paper that examines the differences between cats and dogs will likely contain obvious details, such as the fact that both have tails, both are mammals, and both are popular house pets. Not only is this utterly boring, but it insults the reader’s intelligence. A written piece that focuses on such obvious details would be appropriate only for young children.