As is the case with the cause-and-effect essay, the name "compare-and-contrast" name is misleading. In such an essay, you are focusing on similarities or differences, not both.

Compare-and-contast writing is often used in advertising, to compare two cars or telephones. If you are comparing cellphones, say the Samsung and the iPhone, you might include the categories of screen resolution, camera and price. 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.

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, person, place or thing. In the case of the cellphones, the first paragraph would focus of the three features of the Samsung such as the screen resolution, the camera and the price. The following paragraph would focus on the same features of the iPhone, arranged in the same order. As such, the essay has only two body paragraphs, not the three (lettuce, tomato and meat) you would find in the hamburger essay. Within each paragraph, however, the features (screen resolution, camera and price) should be listed in order of importance, with the most important coming last.

If the essay is about differences, the introduction must start with a hook and briefly mention the similarities. The thesis statement, using a contrast statement, then makes it clear that the essay will focus on three key differences. If the essay focuses on similarities, the introduction must briefly highlight the differences before moving on to the similarities.

With the compare-and-contrast essay, you do not have to argue that one product, place or person is better than the other. If you do believe one if better than the other, the essay should feature the best one in the final paragraph.

In the feature-by-feature compare-and-contrast essay, each paragraph focuses on one feature. The first paragraph, for instance, would focus on the screen resolution. Within that paragraph, you would start with one product, say the Samsung, and then list the other product, say the iPhone. The arrangment must be the same in each paragraph. The third paragraph would discuss the most important feature.

Again, if you prefer the Samsung over the iPhone, the product, place or person that you prefer should come last in each of these paragraphs.

The block-by-block and feature-by-feature essays are interchangable, simply arranged in a different manner. A good practice is to write a compare-and-contrast essay using the block method and then rewrite it as a feature-by-feature essay. You will be able to use the majority the same sentences in each, just arranged differently.