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Here are the instructions of the essay:
Introduction: Open with something that catches the reader’s interest, such as an interesting fact or statement: ‘Back in the 1900s, everybody used paper-copy dictionaries’. Then provide a brief background to your choice of topic. ‘Today the choice is more diverse. Apart from the old hardbacks we can also use the services of various online dictionaries which are just a click away’. Try to put the thesis statement at the end of this first paragraph: ‘The question is, are the online dictionaries as good as the paper ones?’
Three paragraphs make up the body of the essay: you may want two of them to be comparisons (where you compare the similarities of the dictionaries) and the third one to be a contrast (where you focus on the difference), or vice versa. It emphasises your main point to end with a contrast, but you can also remind your reader of the basic similarities when you sum up your analysis in the conclusion. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence. Everything in the paragraph should support this topic sentence. Think of the analogy of a table. If one leg is too short or too long, the table will not be adequately supported.
A brief concluding paragraph wraps up the essay: This is where you summarise your main points without merely repeating. Be careful not to open a new topic: doing so would require a longer paper. Linking the end back to the introduction gives the reader the impression that the text is finished. If you start with the dictionary introduction above, a concluding sentence could be: ‘The people in the 1900s used paper dictionaries; today we tend to use online services when looking up words. Perhaps the format of the dictionary is unimportant, as long as it provides us with the service we expect’.
For the main body of the paper, you might choose to use a block style of writing, where you discuss everything about topic A first and then everything about topic B, discussing parallel points from A as you go along.
Alternatively, you may wish to use the point-by-point style or ‘ping-pong’ style. Visualise a ping-pong ball going back and forth from A to B to A to B to A to B. You may use whichever style you choose in your paragraphs and in your essay as a whole. Be sure to mention the aspects you are comparing/contrasting in the same order in each paragraph. This creates symmetry.