One structure of a compare and contrast essay follows the pattern: introduction, topic one, topic two, topic one and two together, and conclusion. A second common structure is introduction, all comparisons, all contrasts and conclusion.
For the first compare and contrast structure, the introduction often opens with a quotation, anecdote or generalization and leads into a thesis sentence. The next part of the structure deals only with the analysis of the first topic, never mentioning the second topic. This is followed by a portion of the essay dedicated to analysis of the second topic. The third section brings together the key concepts of the previous two sections for direct comparison. The final section, the conclusion, restates the original thesis and demonstrates how it is supported by previous points made in the essay.
The second structure uses the introduction and conclusion in much the same way; however, the body of the paragraph is different. In the second pattern, all comparisons between the two topics occur in the section immediately following the introduction. The next section deals only with how the topics are contrasting or different. Strong compare and contrast essays of this pattern feature at least three unique comparisons and three unique examples of contrasting ideas.