What are Classification Essays?

What are Classification Essays?

Classification essays are used to organize or sort items into appropriate categories.

Three Main Steps to Creating Effective Classifications:

  • Sort items into appropriate groupings or categories
  • Ensure categories adhere to one organizational rule or principle
  • Provide category examples that fit each grouping.

Identifying Categories

Identifying categories is the first crucial step to writing a classification essay. Classifying means sorting items into sensible or logical groups and finding categories for them. Say, for instance, you decide to sort a pile of documents or papers in your office. Before consigning them into random groups, it is likely you would work out some suitable categories for them, e.g., a) papers that need urgent attention, b) papers to be distributed to colleagues, c) papers for filing, and d) papers to be discarded or put in the trash can.  

Writing a Thesis Statement for Your Essay

Usually, a thesis statement for a classification essay covers the topic and how it or related items are to be classified. Occasionally, it is appropriate to name the categories, e.g.,

  • The topic name
  • How it is to be classified
  • Name of category one
  • Name of category two
  • Name of category three

Example: There are three main water sports for tourists to participate in when they visit Hawaii. These are sailing, snorkeling, and surfing. 

Steps for Writing a Good Classification Essay

  1. Work out what your categories should be: You need to be thorough in this step so that you do not overlook any important categories. For instance, an essay would not be complete if you list the main water activities in Hawaii as sailing and snorkeling but omit surfing since this is one of the Islands’ most famous water sports. Likewise, an excessive amount of categories could cause a classification to become blurred. If, for instance, you were writing on the topic of sports shoes, it would not be logical to include high-heeled shoes in the same category as running shoes and trainers.
  2. Classifications should be based on one principle. When your categories are decided upon, it is important to ensure they adhere to the same principle of organization. An organizing principle is the mechanism used to sort groups of items. Make sure a different organizing principle does not unexpectedly slip in. If, for instance, you are using the organizing principle of “water sports for tourists,” make sure that another principle does not slip in such as “water sports for locals” because the categories for these would be different.
  3. Use an equal number of examples to support each category. You might need to elaborate more on your most important or prominent category, which is usually presented last.  

Common Transitions in Classification

Classifications are often presented in transitional order such as the first type or group, followed by the second type or group, and finally the third type or group.   

NB: Do not forget that the writer sorts or organizes items into categories in a classification essay. To write an effective essay of this type, there are three simple steps to bear in mind:

  • Arrange items into suitable categories
  • Choose one organizational principle
  • Provide examples of category items.

The following are examples of topics for classification essays:

  • Historical happenings or events in the USA
  • Popular US television shows
  • Sports cars
  • Physiological disease classification
  • Countries of the world – classify by popularity, population, territory, and so on.

Alternatively, you may select classification essay topics that are familiar to you.