Steps You Need to Take to Write a Good Compare/Contrast Paper

Steps You Need to Take to Write a Good Compare/Contrast Paper
1. Read and understand the assignment sheet. Ask questions.
2. Brainstorm about two or three different topics that you are considering. Use some of the
freewriting, questioning, or listing techniques that we have practiced, or use the
Inspiration software in the Writing Center.
3. Look at your ideas and consider the pros and cons of each possible topic. Pick the one
that seems most appropriate for the assignment and that interests you most. (Remember,
the “easiest” topic often doesn’t turn out to be the easiest, so don’t let that influence your
decision too much.)
4. Once you have decided on your topic, skim through your notes from The No-Nonsense
Guide to Climate Change and type up a list of quotes that pertain to your topic. Include
the page numbers.
5. Do some additional research on Proquest or on the websites that I have included on my
webpage. Do not use wikipedia or waste time with random googling.
6. Read the articles that you find and type up your notes and quotes (with references).
7. Now, turn to the compare/contrast handout. Spend a little time (say ½ hour) looking
through your notes and brainstorming. Make a chart of the similarities and differences.
Make a list of possible points you could use for a point-by-point paper. Finally, pick an
outline format.
8. Create a topic sentence outline for your paper.
Remember, a topic sentence outline is when you write out a complete sentence for
each point. This sentence usually becomes the topic sentence for your paragraph.
For instance, instead of just having “Effects of Good Study Habits” as the point in
my outline, I would write out this complete sentence that actually makes a
complete point: “Good study habits can have an even more pronounced effect on
a student’s grade than their critical thinking ability, especially if the course is
based on multiple-choice exams.” This is clearly an argument, for we could
disagree about it.
This is a great time to see a tutor in the Writing Center. Run your outline by them and
discuss it before you spend more time on the paper. Remember, they are open on
Saturdays. Another option might be to exchange outlines with another student over email
and have an email discussion to help each other. Of course, you could also always visit
the ogre who lives in C156D. She will be there on Wednesday after class and Monday
from 10:15 to 12:15.
9. Once you have a good outline, it should make writing the rough draft a lot easier. Double
check your introduction to see if it includes all the points that an intro should have (hook,
background info, statement of topic, thesis.) Also, make sure that you put your quotes in
proper MLA form and that you do a works cited. It usually makes it easier to do the
works cited first, because then you know what to put into the parentheses in the body of
your paragraph.
Remember: It’s a lot easier to do this well the first time so that you don’t have to redo your
paper completely! It’s crunch time, so plan wisely!