How to Write a Classification Essay

How to Write a Classification EssayA classification essay is also called a division essay. An ability to classify is one of the most remarkable abilities of human intellect. To classify means to find differences between given things and to sort them in groups according to given similarities. Probably you think that classification is boring and is typical only of natural scientists - anatomists, biologists, etc. On the contrary, classification is an activity which people do constantly and almost all the time. Perhaps only during sleep people don't do it. One classifies the people he/she meets - they are friendly/not very friendly, young or old, from “my town” or from “far away.” People classify the products in the supermarket and usually buy the cheap ones or the quality ones. Even one’s Facebook friends list contains definite groups of people- from close friends to acquaintances, and others. Therefore, you cannot avoid classifying and categorizing things, persons, events, processes, and others. The good thing is that you can find plenty of topics and objects to be classified, sorted out, divided or united into categories.

If written properly, the classification essay allows the readers to understand the topic easily and comprehend the writer’s thoughts in a single glance. When compared with a general essay where all information is dumped into different paragraphs, the classification essay requires less time to read. This statement is especially true if the essay is targeted at general audience.

How to write a classification essay

Upon reading about the advantages of the classification essay, you might be wondering how to write a classification essay in a more efficient manner, aren’t you?

What is a classification essay?

To begin with, you should understand that classification essay writing is an art and it demands a certain amount of experience and writing skills. However, by following certain rules and practicing few techniques, you can master classification essay writing with no problem. A classification essay aims at showing different types of a given thing. There are a lot of abstract concepts through which people perceive the world. There is the word “tree”; but there is not only one tree in the world. Hence, “tree” is an abstract concept, a term which needs to be analyzed in more detail. Your task it to pick up such a concept (a category) and to show its subcategories; that is, different types of trees. You have to start from the abstract and to arrive at the particular. 

Topic for classification essay

Before writing a classification essay, you should understand a topic thoroughly; thus, you can clearly classify all available information into different categories and sub categories. Once all the categories and sub-categories are finalized, they should be arranged in a logical and organized order. It is critical to follow the same organizing principle for all the categories. In order to avoid confusion we recommend you to perform your classifications under one category. Regarding their leaves, trees can be divided mainly into conifers and broad-leaved trees. Regarding their geographic location they can be divided into tropical, temperate climate trees, and others.

You could discuss every possible thing and show its types. Students write enthusiastically about various types of persons/characters. However, such topics are not very subtle and do not allow for demonstrating excellent analytical skills. We advise you to focus your work on processes, events, historical figures, and ideas. An example of classification essay topic offered in the present article is “Different types of colleges according to their academic achievements: observations and recommendations.” With this topic formulation you indicate a thesis - in this case that there are colleges for recommendation and not for recommendation. Hence you want to help the reader to choose between different types of colleges.

Classification essay thesis

However strange, a thesis is an important part of your classification essay. You need not merely to observe and to describe but to give some practical advice as well. Your reader wants to get some knowledge so give it to him!

Basically, a thesis for a classification essay is a well-justified assertion directly related to the topic discussed. If you write about colleges, you cannot elaborate a thesis related to, let’s say, schools. Your thesis should not exceed three sentences, if possible, but not more than ten lines of text. It must be inserted in the introduction paragraph or right after it.

Classification essay outline

It is advisable to prepare an outline of your paper prior to writing it. In this way you will have a clearer and broader view on the topic and the essay structure. The classification essay outline should contain the central points of your paper:

  • thesis
  • introduction
  • criteria for categorization,
  • the examined entity (thing,event,process) and its types (sub-categories).

You can modify the outline before starting the essay; after that such a modification is not desirable (it may make you confused). If suddenly it comes to your mind that the thesis is not good enough, then it is better to write a new outline.

Principles of classification

You can do a simple classification: merely define several types of the given abstract concept. It is important to inform your readers that the presented classification does not exhaust all possible types of the given thing/process. All you need to do is to describe several types. Hence, if there are conceivably thirty types of colleges regarding their effectiveness and achievements, you can pick up only three, four or five as the most important ones.

Don’t forget to classify them according to only one criterion. If there are more criteria, you need to elaborate additional classifications. 

Classification essay structure

Like all other essays, a classification essay should also be structured into three main components, such as: introduction, body, and conclusion. If you have a choice to select a topic, it is always advisable to choose a broad subject so that you will have more scope to divide the essay into different categories. Moreover, you should select a topic that is more familiar to you for easy flow of thoughts. Upon selecting the topic, you should allocate some time to recollect all the information that you know related to that topic and put it as a rough draft. Later, spend some time to dissect the information into categories and subcategories. Once you are clear about your thoughts that you are going to pen down, you can proceed with writing an essay by following few tips mentioned below.

Introduction: Key to grabbing reader’s attention

In the introduction, you should provide basic information related to the topic that you are supposed to write. Generally, readers try to presume the content in the essay by reading the introduction. For a writer it is the best chance to grab the reader’s attention, so your classification essay introduction should be crisp, but at the same time provide the main idea of your paper. In this part, in addition to providing preview of the topic, you should be able to generate some expectations about the essay.

Body: Major differentiator

A body of the classification essay should contain all main components of the topic. This part is the major differentiator of the classification essay compared to other type of essays. In this part, you need to provide your main idea. If possible, support all your statements with pertinent examples, which allow the reader to understand your thoughts more clearly. In this context, remember the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”, so do no provide too many examples for the same topic. Moreover, examples should not occupy the major part of an essay, so provide valid and concise examples wherever required. If needed, compare the ideas described in different categories to ensure cohesion in the body of the essay. While illustrating the information under different subheadings, sometimes, writers miss the flow between the topics. Considering this you should make sure there’s a smooth transition from one category to the next.

As there is no standard format for providing information, you should use your discretion for arranging the classification essay in a clear and logical order. Usage of an appropriate format to separate categories and subcategories will help avoid confusion. Generally, if there are many categories, writers might mix the thoughts. So, by considering this probability of errors, you should be clear in expressing your ideas more cogently and meet the expectations that you raised in the introductory paragraph.

Conclusion: Leaves an impression on your writing skills

In the conclusion section, you can summarize all your thoughts mentioned in the body of the classification paper, and if required, comment on the positives and limitations of each of these thoughts. You may also support any particular thought that was explored in the essay and provide a reason for your decision.

Language and style

It is better to employ neutral language; that is, to avoid using first person (“I believe”, “I think”, “I am sure”, “My own experience says that…”). Of course, you can try to be clearer in your expression by using simple, mundane language. Complicated terminology is not typical of classification essays, at least at high-school level. However, if you write a college classification essay then you need to be more careful in your language and meet the academic criteria for academic paper.

CLASSIFICATION ESSAY EXAMPLE

“Different types of colleges according to their academic achievements: observations and recommendations.”

(Introduction) Colleges can be classified according to their academic achievements in three types: excellent, average, and poor. Academic achievements should be defined in terms of conducting scientific research, organizing conferences, having high scientific impact (especially through publications) and receiving external funds based on research.

(Thesis) Excellent colleges are not always appropriate for every kind of student. They offer many opportunities but require a lot of time and efforts.

(Main part of the essay)

Excellent colleges are those with the highest academic achievements. Their staff and students attend international conferences, receive a lot of external funds, carry out internationally recognized research with high impact factor. If you are enrolled in such a college you can have many opportunities for academic career but you will have to dedicate all of your time.

Average colleges have achievements at state or regional level. Sometimes they can receive external funds. They are the appropriate environment for young gifted scientists who are still afraid of entering the academic world.

Poor colleges do not have enough academic achievements. Probably, they are chosen by the students because of other reasons such as lower taxes, excellent international cooperation (and possibilities to stay abroad), or advanced technical equipment.

One should keep in mind that there could be also other degrees of scientific achievements depending on the particular subject or field in which the research is done - Natural sciences, Social sciences, Humanities, etc.

(Conclusion) This essay concerns only the academic achievements of the given colleges. In other respects the excellent colleges could turn out to be poor. So, always be careful what you choose and think about what you want from your education.

As you see, you can insert some practical advice related to the object discussed by you. The classification should not be merely descriptive but also practical. The division offered by you can be subjected to another, more detailed division (to divide the first type of colleges into other three sub-types).

Once the essay is done you should revise it carefully, paying heed especially to the internal logic present in it and the criterion for classification. Check your grammar and punctuation as well.

Most Popular Classification Essay Topics

We have come up with a list of 78 most popular classification essay topics that you may consider for your next assignment.

  1. Classify the different types of Facebook users
  2. Evaluate the different types of coffee
  3. Classify the various types of social media networks
  4. Evaluate the different types of yogurts
  5. Classify the different types of games played using a ball
  6. Evaluate the different types of birth control methods
  7. Classify the different types of movies
  8. Evaluate the different types of college majors
  9. Classify the different types of artists
  10. Evaluate the different accommodation options available to college students
  11. Classify the different types of currencies
  12. Evaluate the different types of books
  13. Classify the different genres of music
  14. Evaluate the different types of tourism
  15. Classify the different types of cats
  16. Evaluate the different types of alcoholic beverages
  17. Classify the different types of baby food
  18. Evaluate the different types of public holidays
  19. Classify the different types of milk
  20. Evaluate the different ways to travel
  21. Classify the different types of cheese
  22. Evaluate the different types of restaurants
  23. Classify the different types of diets
  24. Evaluate the different types of YouTube videos
  25. Classify the different aspects of marketing
  26. Evaluate the most commonly used emoji on Facebook
  27. Classify the different types of conflict resolution techniques
  28. Evaluate the most commonly consumed breakfast beverages
  29. Classify the different types of bread
  30. Evaluate the most commonly consumed cereals for breakfast
  31. Classify the different sources of energy
  32. Evaluate what influences a person’s shopping habits
  33. Classify the different types of gifts
  34. Evaluate what influences the type of car a person buys
  35. Classify the different types of motor vehicles
  36. Evaluate the different types of cell phones
  37. Classify the different types of special occasions
  38. Evaluate the different types of game shows
  39. Classify the different types of TV shows
  40. Evaluate the different types of sales promotions
  41. Classify the different types of dances
  42. Evaluate the different types of clothing
  43. Classify the different types of skirts
  44. Evaluate the different types of audits
  45. Classify the different types of shoes
  46. Evaluate the different types of motivation
  47. Classify the different types of jewellery
  48. Evaluate the different types of compliments
  49. Classify the different ways to spend a vacation
  50. Evaluate the different types of natural resources
  51. Classify the different types of tourist attractions
  52. Evaluate the different ways to pamper yourself
  53. Classify the different types of spa services
  54. Evaluate the different types of storage media
  55. Classify the different types of hair products
  56. Evaluate the different ways to do banking
  57. Classify the different types of books
  58. Evaluate the different ways to advertise
  59. Classify the different types of competition
  60. Evaluate the different types of nurses
  61. Classify the different types of children snacks
  62. Evaluate the different types of motor vehicle tyres
  63. Classify the different types of board games
  64. Evaluate the different types of costumes
  65. Classify the different types of card games
  66. Evaluate the different ways to beat an addiction
  67. Classify the different types of coping mechanisms
  68. Evaluate the different types of jokes
  69. Classify the different negotiation tactics
  70. Evaluate the various types of banks
  71. Classify the different types of religions
  72. Evaluate the different ways to breastfeed a baby
  73. Classify the different types of search engines
  74. Evaluate the different types of shopping websites
  75. Classify the different types of data collection methods
  76. Evaluate the different types of songs
  77. Classify the different types of furniture
  78. Evaluate the different types of credit cards

In a nutshell, in order to write an effective classification essay, you should start with a proper introduction followed by the main idea that is logically arranged with categories and subcategories along with pertinent examples. The essay should be concluded with a brief summary of discussed ideas and highlighting your comments on the subject.  A classification essay is not amongst the hardest papers to write but still you should not underestimate your task.

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