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Nonlinear distortion in single-, two-, and three-stage operational amplifiers (opamps) is the main scope of this paper. For each opamp, distortion contributions from different groups of transistors are identified and plotted versus frequency. This makes it possible to find the strongest sources of distortion in the various frequency regions. Further, equations that describe the third harmonic as a function of circuit parameters and input frequency are presented. Despite the simplifications, these equations describe the third harmonic accurately. Further, they provide insight and understanding by connecting distortion to circuit parameters such as transconductances, capacitances, poles, and zeros. The comparison of the opamps shows that each opamp has a frequency region where the distortion is lower than for the other two. The three-stage op amp has far lower distortion at low frequencies, the single-stage op amp is better at high frequency and the two-stage op amp is best for the mid frequency range.