In addition to planning for a compare-contrast essay, the compare/contrast chart is useful for evaluating two subjects prior to making a decision. It is sometimes called the Ben Franklin Decision T.
Salespeople often use Ben Franklin's T to close a sale by selecting only those features that make their product appear superior to the competitor's. They word the features so they can be answered by a simple yes or no, and then persuasively list a string of yes's on their side and a string of no's on the competitor's. This practice can be deceptive, so be cautious if someone tries it on you!
Rather than trying to convince someone to decide something, your reason for completing the compare-contrast chart is to gather information so that you can write a thorough, interesting essay that compares and/or contrasts two subjects.
Creating a Compare-Contrast Prewriting Chart
- Write the names of the two ideas or subjects you are comparing and/or contrasting in the cells as indicated.
- Think about the important aspects of subject one and list a general category for each one. For example, if you were comparing the 60's to the 90's, you might want to talk about rock and roll of the 60's. The broader category of rock and roll is music, so you would list music as a feature.
- List as many features as you think are important about subject I and then subject II. You can add more later. Tip: An easy way to think of features is to ask yourself questions beginning with who, what, where, when, why and how.
- Begin with one subject and fill in each cell with two kinds of information: (1) a general comment and (2) specific examples supporting that comment. You will need both types of information, so don't rush through this step.
- Do the same for the second subject.
- Cross out any rows that don't seem important.
- Number the features in the order of importance.
Compare-Contrast Prewriting Chart
|Subject 1||Features||Subject 2|