How to Write a Good Classification Essay

Types of Essays Classification Essay
Oct 7, 2019

Over the course of many years, students become familiar with a considerable number of essay types. There are argumentative, persuasive, cause and effect, and compare and contrast essays to name a few. One type of project that is not as common, however, is the classification essay. In this post, we offer a classification essay definition and provide tips on how to write a classification essay.

What Is a Classification Essay?

You may wonder what is classification essay. A classification essay can be defined as a formal piece of academic writing that identifies and explains categories in relation to a specific topic. This paper involves sorting or organizing items into groups by way of determining shared traits, qualities, or characteristics. These items can be persons, objects, animals, plants, places, or even more abstract concepts like ideas.

This type of essay has three basic features. First, it identifies the categories. Second, it describes each of these categories by looking at what makes them distinct from each other. Finally, the paper provides examples that fall within the categories. Although classificatory writing may come across as simple and easy to compose, it actually requires a lot of work due to the need for clarity and precision. The next section discusses the basic structure of this paper.

Major steps in writing a classification essay

How to Structure Your Classification Essay

Although the content of a classification paper is distinct, it is still basically an essay. This means it needs to follow the structure as prescribed by academic writing standards. A formal essay is composed of three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Each of these serves its own purpose. Familiarizing yourself with these parts will help make the writing process faster and easier.

Introduction with a thesis statement

The first part of the paper is the introduction. This part catches the reader’s attention, provides background information or context, narrows the discussion to the specific topic, and presents the thesis statement. This section may also discuss why the topic is important. For example, if your topic is about the different types of visual art, you might explain how learning these benefits your reader.

How to write a classification essay introduction


The middle and longest section of the paper is the body. This is the part where you expand upon your thesis statement. In a classification paper, the body should discuss the categories and provide examples for each. Begin the paragraph by identifying the category you will discuss. Then follow this with a description of the category itself. Discuss qualities, traits, or characteristics that make it a separate category. Finally, present examples that fall within this category.

How to write a classification essay body


The conclusion wraps up the entire discussion. This part usually does the following: it restates the thesis statement, summarizes the main points of the discussion, and provides final thoughts regarding the topic. Do not include new information on this part. Instead, try to leave your reader with something that could prompt them to think or research more about the topic.

Keep in mind that the basic structure of any essay includes these three main sections. Hence, a classification essay should contain these parts. Longer works may include other sections, and learning how to compose more complex papers certainly takes practice. At the minimum, though, you need to know how to properly write these individual sections

How to write a classification essay conclusion

Thesis Statement of a Classification Essay

As mentioned earlier, a thesis statement is an essential part of this paper. You should be able to construct a sentence that expresses the main point you are trying to communicate. The thesis should not be a general statement; neither should it simply state what the paper will discuss. Instead, it should tell exactly what your claim is. Below is an example of a well-written thesis statement and a poorly-written one:

“This essay will discuss the categories of drama in television.”

“Contemporary primetime drama in television can be categorized into three main genres: romance, family saga, friends, fantasy, and mixed.”

The first sample is poorly written because it only tells the reader what the paper will discuss and does not present the specific claim. The second sample is well-written for a number of reasons. First, it presents the topic of the paper (primetime television drama). Second, it identifies what the categories are. Third, it is specific enough and tells the reader what to expect in the body of the paper.

How to Write an Effective Classification Essay

Writing an effective classification paper can be quite difficult. This is especially true if you are not familiar with the writing process. Luckily, there are steps that you can follow to make the process easier and faster. This section offers a guide for writing this type of paper. The steps presented below are derived from the basic writing process and customized to fit the needs of this specific paper.

Step 1: Choose a topic

The writing process begins with choosing a topic. In many cases, the professor provides students with a list of topics to choose from. When choosing a topic, pick one that you are interested in or passionate about. This will make the writing process more engaging and therefore more productive for you. One of the major hindrances to completing this project is a lack of enthusiasm for the topic. So pick one which draws out a positive response from you. If you are having trouble coming up with a topic, consider choosing one from the  best classification essay topics available online.

Step 2: Conduct research

The next step is to conduct research on your topic. The extent of research required mostly depends on the nature and complexity of your topic. For example, scientific topics will likely require more research since the discussion will have to be backed with a lot of scientific evidence. Meanwhile, topics that are more personal or subjective will likely require limited research since a lot of discussions will rely on opinion. Regardless of the topic you choose, make sure you do some research to gain insight.

Step 3: Brainstorm and organize information

Once you have conducted adequate research, start brainstorming for ideas and organizing information. Look at the information generated by your research. List down the categories you come across. If you are required to come up with your own categories, try to look for similarities and differences. Your ability to discern commonalities and divergences will help you shape your categories. Once you have determined your categories, proceed with formulating your thesis.

Step 4: Formulate a thesis statement

Formulate a thesis statement that conveys your main point. This will serve as the backbone of your paper. Remember that a thesis has to present a claim and has to be narrow enough so that your reader can comprehend the specific point you are making. A well-written thesis for this kind of paper should feature the categories that you have identified or established.

Step 5: Create an outline

The next step is to create an outline for your entire paper. Write one to two sentences that represent each of your major points and subpoints. Use letters and numerals to distinguish between the different levels of discussion. You might think that writing an outline is time-consuming. But the effort is worth it. An outline will enable you to stay on track. Many students make the mistake of skipping this process and their papers end up losing direction.

Step 6: Write a draft

Write the draft of your paper by using your outline as a guide. Take each of the points and subpoints in your outline and expand them into full sections and subsections. At this point, you will notice how the outline serves as signposts that show you the path towards completing your essay. Once you get to the body of the paper, make sure that each body paragraph relates to and works towards supporting the thesis.

Step 7: Revise the draft

Many students think that the first draft is good enough. But even the most seasoned writers will tell you that editing is a crucial part of the writing process. Leave your essay for a day or two if you have the time. Then read it again, paying careful attention to any part that you can improve. This means deleting unnecessary parts, rewording unclear sentences, and reorganizing sections if necessary among others. Continue revising until you are satisfied with your paper.

Step 8: Proofread the final copy

Once you are satisfied, devote one or two final readings solely for proofreading. A paper is not complete until it has gone through the last step of having errors weeded out. Check for misspelled words, incorrectly placed punctuation marks, and any grammatical and typographical errors. Such mistakes may seem minor, but leave enough of them and they can seriously undermine your paper’s quality.

These are the main steps to writing a classification essay. As you can see, the steps are patterned after the basic writing process. The main difference is that when writing this essay your focus should be on developing the body. Your content should concentrate on identifying each category, describing what makes it distinct from the others, and including specific examples for each.

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Classification Essay Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write this essay is by looking at examples. Sample papers are excellent learning materials. They show how techniques and principles of effective writing are put into practice. Below are some examples. Make sure to study them to gather ideas for how this type of essay should look like.

  1. Sample Essay 1 . This sample presents a short essay that categorizes animals according to their diet. Although simple in structure and content, this sample contains all the essential components of a classification essay.

  2. Sample Essay 2 . This is another example of a classification essay that identifies the major types of classical music. Notice how the sample identifies categories based on the time period and musical characteristics. The essay also presents information in an organized way, beginning with identifying the category, defining and describing its features, and ending with examples.

The samples provided show how a simple essay of this kind looks like. You do not have to copy them or follow their structure completely. Your essay will benefit if you write it using your own style. Whichever way you choose to approach the paper, just make sure your writing is clear, organized, engaging, logical, and accurate.


Writing a classification paper can be challenging since this type of essay is rarely assigned in school. But even if this is a rare assignment, you can still benefit from learning how to write it. Apart from encouraging you to think critically, it allows you to develop fundamental skills in researching and writing that you can use in virtually every other field. If you find yourself unsure of how to proceed, use this post as a guide.

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