Cause or Effects -- Not Both

The name "cause-and-effect" paragraph is misleading. A good cause-and-effect paragraph deals with the causes or effects, not both.

Unlike the typical reason paragraph, the cause paragraph deals with something that has a clear effect. For instance:

* Global warming -- seas rise, flooding, violent storms
* Smoking -- people get addicted and die
* Opioid addition -- people ruin lives
* Divorce -- children suffer
* Obesity -- diabetes and heart attacks

Whatever subject you choose, you should focus on the causes or the effects, not both. Again, you must focus on the three most important causes, not all the causes.

A quirk of cause-effect paragraphs, however, is that the cause paragraph has to start with a focus on the effects.
An example of a topic sentence for a cause paragraph:

"With smoking killing almost 8 million people each year, governments must focus on the three main reasons that children as young as 13 start smoking."

The first thing you need to determine is whether you are writing about the causes or the effects.

Click here for a paragraph focusing on causes

Click here for a paragraph focusing on effects


As is the case with the cause-and-effect essay, the name "compare-and-contrast" name is misleading. While some believe that such and essay must present comparisons and contrasts, the best compare-and-contrast paragraphs or eassys focus on similarities or differences, not both.

Because of that, you have to decide which you will be doing, comparing or contrasting.

To make things more complex, the compare-and-contrast paragraph or essay come in two forms, product-by-product or feature-by-feature:

The product-by-product essay is arranged by product (Samsung/iPhone), person (Trump/Obama), place (Greece/Italy) or thing (Trees/Bushes).

In product-by-product organization, the similarities (or difference) the paragraph or essay would focus on the three major features of one product, say the Samsung (screen resolution/camera/price) and then the three same features of the iPhone:

  Samsung (Product 1)
    Screen Resolution


  iPhone (Product 1)
    Screen Resolution


In feature-by-feature organization, you could focus on the differences (or similarities) or each feature:

  Screen Resolution (Feature 1)

  Camera (Feature 2)

  Price (Feature 3)

Before you start a compare-and-contrast paragraph or essay, you have to decided whether you will be writing about similarities (comparisons) or differences (contrasts) and whether you will use the product-by-product or feature-by-feature organization.

If you are writing an essay on the differences between two products, you have to briefly mention the similarities in your topic sentence or introduction. For instance, you might say, "The Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone X look extremely similar, but have three critical differences."

Compare-and-contast writing is often used in advertising, to compare two cars or telephones. Following the format of the hamburger paragraph or essay, these essays focus on the least important feature first and then build to the most important feature.