Steps To Writing A Classification Essay

The classification essay is frequently assigned both in science and social studies. Maybe you had already written such essays, but had no idea what they were called. If you were assigned to write a classification essay, there is no need to panic. First, let’s figure out what sort of essay it is and learn from the best classification essay examples.

What Is a Classification Essay?

To classify means to gather something into appropriate categories, kinds, or types. For example, orders in a restaurant can be divided into: incoming, in process, ready, and delivered. A classification essay is a kind of paper that presents information divided into certain categories according to a unified basis of division. Students need to sort certain material related to a topic into categories and write it in appropriate paragraphs. For example, your classification essay assignment can look like this:
“State and discuss the significant causes of World War I.”

If you are ready to dig deeper into the matter of classification essay writing, the following step-by-step guide will show you how to write a classification paragraph.

Classification Essay Pre-Writing Steps

Step 1.Analyze your audience. To understand the purpose of your classification essay, you need to know for what kind of public you need to write it. Do you need to define certain terms or is your audience familiar with this topic? Do you need to provide background information?

Step 2. Brainstorm on the topic. You need to pick a topic that is not only interesting, but also can be easily divided into categories or types. Freewrite, read the news, think about your favorite topics that you have already learned in this subject, etc.

Step 3. Collect information. As soon as you pick the topic, start collecting more information about it. Without proper information, you won’t be able to pick categories.

Step 4. Divide the topic into categories. This will be the basis for your essay and everything will depend on what kind of information you want to deliver. All categories should be logically connected and relate to the topic. Make sure that you have enough information to cover each category equally.

Step 5. Create an outline. Briefly think how you will arrange the text and choose the method of organizing information. If you don’t know how to write a classification essay outline, start with writing down all key points on the list. As you finish you will see the overall picture, and you will be able to arrange them in logical order and remove unnecessary points. Classification essays are usually organized by importance, chronically or spatially. Create a plan numbering the classification categories in specific order. Take a look at this example:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Category 1.
  3. Category 2.
  4. Category 3.
  5. Conclusion.

Classification Essay Writing Steps

Step 1. Write an interesting title. Keep in mind that your title should clearly state the classification subject or directly refer to it.

Step 2. Write the introduction. Start with writing the purpose of the classification and value of your essay. The core of your introduction is the thesis statement.

How to write a thesis statement for a classification essay? Here you need to announce the subject, state your attitude to the topic, and tell about the organizing principle that you will follow through the entire essay, separating one piece of information from another. A thesis statement will map the content of your essay and make organizational structure clearer both for you and your reader. Clearly state the method you are using to divide the subject into parts and list the categories that you will be describing in the body paragraph (three or four will be a good choice).

The formula for a classification thesis statement is as follows: topic + organizing method + categories. For example: There are four levels of vegetarianism – vegan, lacto vegetarian, ovo vegetarian, and lacto-ovo vegetarian.

Step 3. Write the body paragraph. Before writing the body paragraph of this essay, let’s learn what is a classification paragraph. It is the part of the classification essay that describes one of the categories. Usually a classification paragraph consists of two parts: the topic sentence and basis of classification. Every paragraph should have a logical sequence: from most to least important, most to least harmful, most to least expensive, etc.

You can create a particular paragraph for a certain category or make one body paragraph. For one single paragraph, you should consider numbering each type, as it will be easier for readers to remember and understand your classification. If you have decided to use several body paragraphs, you should focus on one category of which the topic is divided. For example, the body structure about categorizing books in your home library may look like this:

  • The first body paragraph will be about drama.
  • The second body paragraph will be about prose.
  • The third paragraph will be about poetry.
  • The fourth paragraph will be about nonfiction.

Start every category with a topic sentence that will highlight the essence of the particular classification. Each category should be supported with an explanation of how this category identifies among others. Don’t forget to support your categories with detailed examples to explain each category.

Note: Indicate if some items from the list can change their classification or whether they can belong to more than one category at the same time.

Step 4. Write a conclusion. A classification essay conclusion should naturally flow from the body paragraph. Once you have finished describing your categories, jot the main ideas from all paragraphs and write your final thoughts about the subject. Restate the thesis statement and express you own thoughts about the subject. Describe how it’s important to separate the subject into categories and underscore the importance to look on this issue afresh.

Classification Essay Post-Writing Steps

Step 1. Revise your text. Check your writing for logic, unity, support, and coherence. Make sure that the text is easy to read, all parts have transitional phrases, and one thought flows into another.

Step 2. Proofread the text. Look for mistakes in punctuation, grammar, spelling, mechanics, and sentence structure. Make at least five changes in your draft to be sure that your writing is coherent and logical.

Step 3. Ask someone for help. Ask your parents or friends who are good at writing to read and evaluate your essay. Even if you are a skilled writer, you still can miss some mistakes.

Classification Essay Checklist

  • Have you used only one organizing principle?
  • Does your thesis statement list all categories?
  • Do the categories you have chosen serve the purpose?
  • Does your essay establish clear categories or can they be confused?
  • Are body paragraphs complete and well organized?
  • Are your paragraphs properly ordered?
  • Have you supported categories with examples that clearly express the idea?
  • Have you used transitions between paragraphs?
  • Are your points concrete and forceful?
  • Does your conclusion explain the purpose of the categories?

Classification Paragraph Sample

Here you can see the example of a classification essay. Our specialist has picked one of the classification essay samples and analyzed it. As you read, pay attention to structure and how the correct format helps to create a clear and easy-to-read message.

Click the images to see their full size.

Classification Essay Tips

  • One of the most challenging activities in essay writing is producing a thesis statement. Usually, a good thesis statement consists of the topic of your essay and how you are going to classify it. You do not have to name all of the classified elements: it would be enough just to indicate the principle you use in your essay. For example, you may say: “The citizens of Guatemala involve themselves in three types of jobs: a, b, c…” This format will make it clear for your readers what exactly you will be discussing in the essay.
  • Also, it is important to use transitions when writing body paragraphs. Here are the most popular ones: subsequently, firstly, initially, lastly, in regard to, in terms of, etc.
  • A lot of students forget that writing a lot of content does not guarantee them success in the completion of their essays. Another popular mistake is using too many elements of a classified object. It’s always better to choose less, but describe them properly, than to choose five or seven aspects, but say little about them.
  • Avoid mixing various classification criteria. It is not good to start to write about part-time jobs and freelance jobs, and then move onto to describing creative jobs.
  • To help your readers be more focused on separate categories and announce upcoming categories, you can use the following phrases for transition between paragraphs: the first group, the last category, are classified.
  • Prewrite before selecting a topic. This exercise will help you make sure that you are going to pick the right topic. Select a topic, decide on the purpose of your classification, and generate several examples.


The list below provides common phrases that can be useful to create transitional expressions between classification paragraphs and connect related ideas. Adding such phrases to your text will help you to keep the readers focused on a specific paragraph or category and control the idea. Combine these key words to make your text more logical and clear:

kinds of sections…
different grouping…
types of headings…
category parts…
can be divided…
can be classified…
can be categorized…
in this section…
a final subdivision…
one of the partitions…
one of the classes…
on this kind…
in the same branch…
a first/second/third element…
the most important piece…
the last type…

Now we can say that you have read much information about classification essay writing. It is time to set up your own ideas and start writing your classification essay. We hope our advice will be at hand and we wish you luck. Live long and prosper!

Writing a Division and Classification Essay

Of the different styles of formal writing, the division and classification essay requires the sorting and grouping of specific items or ideas into various categories based on the information or characteristics provided. The well written classification essay should provide a thorough and meaningful message about how these different categories relate to one another.

For this reason, classification essay topics should be clear and concise. The perfect topic for a division and classification essay allows for a discussion on how the whole relates to its parts, or vice versa. For example, if writing an article on parenting styles, these four major divisions and classifications could be explored, alone and as a whole: authoritative, neglectful, permissive and authoritarian.

Purpose of a Division and Classification Essay

The primary goal of the division and classification essay is to break down large subjects into smaller and more specific subtopics for the reader. By creating a more manageable system of classification and division, things can be organised and divided much more quickly and easily, often requiring considerable less thought. These small categories, like subtopics, help the reader understand the individual facets of most classification essay topics more fully.

Structure of a Division and Classification Essay

When writing a classification essay, the structure must be concise and the information must be grouped into specific and organised categories. This is accomplished using a five paragraph division and classification essay format, consisting of the following parts: an introduction,three or more paragraphs which constitutes the body, and a conclusion

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The introduction should immediately capture the reader’s attention, creating interest while developing a basic understanding for the chosen classification essay topics by explaining what the paper is going to be about. In the body of a classification essay, there should be at least three or more paragraphs, each one dedicated to a singular topic within a specific category that relates to the introduction.

Much like a summary, the conclusion reiterates the information that was given in the introduction, and sums up the supporting information provided in the body of the division and classification essay. The reader’s questions should be fully answered by the time he has read the entire conclusion.

Connection Words and Phrases for Classification Essay Topics

Connection words are very much like signal phrases, as both let the reader know when a transition is occurring within the text of a division and classification essay. These very clear and concise signals warn the reader that there will be new information divided and categorised in the next statement. While there are plenty more, some of the most commonly used connection phrases for classification essay topics include the following: classified according to, in this category, this type of, several kinds of, can be divided into, is categorised by.

Additionally, these signal phrases lend both unity and flow to the abstract categories of a classification essay, allowing the writer to reveal and communicate something that is meaningful and has value.


Cengage Learning
Wheeling Jesuit University
Austin Peay State University

10 Tips for a Successful Division and Classification Essay

Only a small portion of students actually enjoy writing essays. That is simply because writing essays is quite difficult for most people, requiring hours of research and hard work – and that’s before the writing process ever begins. The division and classification essay ranks as one of the most important assignments that most students will ever face.

Critical thinking skills and the ability to write proficiently are necessary requirements for future careers and employment opportunities. Here are some insightful writing tips for composing the division and classification essay, or to assist with other writing assignments.

#1 – Choosing Classification Essay Topics

The savvy essay writer chooses the assigned division and classification topics that are familiar as well as interesting, lending greater detail and understanding to the subtopics or categories.

#2 – Don’t Delay

Once the assignment is given, writers should immediately begin the process of choosing the best classification essay topics, budgeting time, and forming a clear plan of action.

#3 – Make an Outline

Just as one might need a list to stay focused at the grocery store, it is important to write an outline to help with inserting the most vital facts into the essay. When finished, the outline should reflect all of the points that need to be made.

#4 – Write the First Draft

It is not likely that the first draft will contain all of the information needed to hand in for a grade. There will be additional points to include later, and others that will need to be omitted. Multiple drafts may be needed before the essay is ready to be graded by an instructor.

#5 – Understand the Assignment

Writers should be sure to ask any questions about the assignment early on, long before the division and classification essay deadline. It is not wise to wait until the last minute.

#6 – Seek Out Examples

For clarification, there are numerous example classification essays available online for comparison. These are a great way for writers to see what is expected from the assignment.

#7 – Never Plagiarise

While quotes or citations are acceptable, under no circumstances should the writer ever ‘borrow’ someone else’s words. Essays are considered to be intellectual property, owned by the composer.

#8 – Format Correctly

Don’t fall victim to poor formatting, which can result in a considerable loss of grade points. Take the time to go over formatting requirements and refer to online sources if there are unanswered questions.

#9 – Cite Sources

Citing sources is a vital part of any formal essay unless the instructions suggest otherwise, and time spent on this aspect of the essay is necessary for a desirable grade. Incorrectly citing the sources used is nearly as bad as plagiarizing someone else’s work.

#10 – Put the Essay Away

Once the final essay has been written with plenty of time to spare before the assignment’s due date, put it away and take some time to clear your mind. After a few days, read and review the essay again. If everything appears to be in order, the essay is ready to be handed in.

In Conclusion

It is important to take essays seriously as these assignments weigh heavily in grades. Poorly written essays or late assignments can easily prevent admission into certain schools or academic programs. Approach all essay and other writing assignments as if your future depends upon the grade you will receive.

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