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How to Write a Classification Essay Effectively

Classification essays are assignments where the writer sorts or organizes various items or things into appropriate categories.

Three Simple Steps to Effective Classification Writing

  • Categorize the subject matter into useful groupings;
  • Ensure each category is based on one clear organizational principle;
  • Provide examples to match your individual categories.


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Identifying Categories

The identification of suitable categories is a crucial step in writing great classification essays. If you are to logically organize or classify various items, you first need to identify categories into which to place them. Say, for instance, you want to organize a pile of papers. Rather than place them in random groups, decide what categories you could usefully put them into. These could be 1) documents that need to be dealt with immediately, 2) documents to be filed, 3) documents to be shared with colleagues and/or 4) documents to be destroyed.

Classification Essays Need a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement for this type of essay should include the topic and the manner of its classifications. It is sometimes appropriate to list the categories by name e.g. topic + how it is to be classified, followed by category 1, category 2, category 3 and so on.

Example: There are three types of water sports to enjoy in Hawaii: sailing, snorkeling and surfing.

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How a Good Classification Essay should Be Written

Decide what categories you are going to use. Do this thoroughly and do not omit any important categories. If, for example, you are describing the water sport options in Hawaii and list sailing and snorkeling, but overlook surfing, your essay will not be complete because Hawaii is more noted for surfing than the other activities. Additionally, you should not devise an excessive number of categories because these will leave your classifications a little blurred. Say you are discussing the topic of sports footwear and your organizational principle is different activities, you would not list stilettoes with training and golf shoes.

Use one principle for classification. When your categories are decided upon, take care to ensure they fit your chosen principle of organization, which is how groups are sorted. Make sure a separate principle does not unexpectedly creep in. If, say, your organizing principle is ‘water sport options for tourists,’ do not let another organizing principle such as ‘water sport options for natives’ slip in. The categories for this would be different e.g. outrigger activities, canoeing or pearl diving.

Provide an equal amount of examples to support every category. You might, however, need to elaborate more on the highest-ranking category.

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Commonly Used Transitions in Classification Essays

The first (second, third, etc.) kind/type/group;

NB: When writing classification essays, writers are expected to devise categories into which they can classify, sort or organize various things. The three most important rules to bear in mind are:

  1. find useful categories into which to organize whatever things you are dealing with;
  2. Build your essay around a single organizational principle and
  3. Provide suitable examples for your categories.

The following are some topic examples for a classification essay:

You can devise classifications for the following:

  • The USA’s most important historical events.
  • World sports cars.
  • Specific countries e.g. write about population, popularity, territory and so on.
  • Physiological disorders/diseases
  • The USA’s most widely watched television shows.

Use any of the above subjects or select a topic that is familiar to you.


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