WRITING A CLASSIFICATION PAPER
Classification is sorting things into groups or categories on a single basis of division. A classification paper says something meaningful about how a whole relates to parts, or parts relate to a whole. Like skimming, scanning, paraphrasing, and summarizing, classification requires the ability to group related words, ideas, and characteristics.
Prewriting and purpose
It is a rare writer, student or otherwise, who can sit down and draft a classification essay without prewriting. A classification paper requires that you create categories, so prewriting for a classification paper involves grouping things in different ways in order to discover what categories make the most sense for the purpose you intend.
An important part of creating useful categories is seeing the different ways that things can be grouped. For example, a list of United States presidents may be grouped in any number of ways, depending on your purpose. They might be classified by political party, age on taking office, or previous occupations, but you could just as well, depending on your purpose, classify them by the pets they keep or how they keep physically fit. If your purpose was to analyze presidential administrations, you would group information focusing on the presidents' more public actions–say, cabinet appointments and judicial nominations. On the other hand, if you intended to write about the private lives of presidents, you might select information about personal relationships or hobbies.
Make sure the categories you create have a single basis of classification and that the group fits the categories you propose. You may not, for example, write about twentieth century presidents on the basis of the kinds of pets they kept if some of those presidents did not keep pets. The group does not fit the category. If you intend to talk about all the presidents, you must reinvent the categories so that all the presidents fit into it. In the example below, the group is "all U.S. presidents" and the two categories are "those who kept pets and those who did not":
Some U.S. presidents have indulged their love of pets, keeping menageries of animals around the White House, and others have preferred the White House pet-free.
Alternatively, in the following example, the group is "twentieth century U.S. presidential pet-keepers" and the three categories are "dog lovers, cat lovers, and exotic fish enthusiasts."
Among the twentieth century presidents who kept pets, presidential pet-keepers can be classified as dog-lovers, cat-lovers, or exotic fish enthusiasts (for who can really love a fish?).
Developing a thesis
Once you have decided on your group, purpose, and categories, develop a thesis statement that does the following three things:
- names what group of people or things you intend to classify
- describes the basis of the classification
- labels the categories you have developed
Here is a thesis statement for a classification paper written for a Health and Human Fitness class that includes all three of the above elements, underlined:
Our last five U.S. presidents have practiced physical fitness regimens that varied from the very formal to the informal. They have been either regular private gym-goers, disciplined public joggers, or casual active sports enthusiasts.
Order is the way you arrange ideas to show how they relate to one another. For example, it is common to arrange facts and discussion points from most- to least-important or from least- to most-important, or from oldest to most recent or longest to shortest. The example thesis statement above is ordered from most- to least-formal physical fitness activities. There is no one right way; use an ordering system that seems best to suit your purpose and the type of information you are working with.
For example, suppose you are writing about the last five U.S. presidents for a psychology class. If you wish to show that these presidents' public decisions spring directly from negative issues in their personal relationships, you might order your information from most private to more public actions to clearly establish this connection. Or, if you wish to give the reader the impression that he is moving into increasingly intimate knowledge of personal presidential foibles, you may choose the reverse, ordering your information from public to private.
Signal phrases, or transitions, typically used for classification papers include the following:
- this type of...
- several kinds of...
- in this category...
- can be divided into...
- classified according to...
- is categorized by...
These phrases signal to the reader your intention to divide and sort things. They also contribute to the unity of the paper.
Classification requires that you invent (or discover) abstract categories, impose them on a concrete whole, and derive something new-a tall order that you can, nevertheless, manage if you resist the temptation to skip the brainstorming steps. Remember that clinical dissection is never an aim in itself; the point of classification is to reveal and communicate something meaningful.
At first sight, writing a classification essay may seem straightforward, but this task isn’t as simple as students would like it to be. It involves finding a group of things that have something in common and then dividing them into groups based on one or more factors that differentiate them. One of the most difficult things when you are faced with this assignment could be finding a topic. Here is an effective solution to your problem: 100 classification essay topics in a variety of academic disciplines. Go over them and make a choice now.
- Types of autistic disorders
- Types of eating disorders
- The most common phobias
- Types of student behavior in class
- Types of obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms
- Types of behavior in the workplace
Health and Nutrition
- Types of weight loss diets
- The most common allergies
- Types of home treatments for migraines
- Ways to quit smoking
- Types of self-help strategies for depression
- Types of vitamins
- Ways arthritis sufferers can get joint pain relief
- Factors increasing the risk of heart disease
- Types of vegetables
- Types of hair loss treatments
- Types of nutrients
- Types of exercises
- Types of social networks
- Types of computers
- Types of mobile apps
- Types of smart devices
- The most widely used search engines
- Types of Facebook users
- Types of college majors
- Types of school systems in North American countries
- Ways to pay for your college education
- Types of students
- Types of colleges
- Types of extracurricular activities
- Accommodation options for college students
- Types of study resources available on the web
- Types of teaching techniques in elementary school
- Types of islands
- Types of dinosaurs
- Climate zones
- Types of killer whales
- Types of rocks
- Types of energy sources
- Types of bears
- Theories explaining how life started on Earth
Government and Politics
- Types of voting systems
- Types of political systems
- Modern monarchies around the world
- Types of political parties
- International organizations that your country participates in
- Types of strategies in political debate
Family and social matters
- Parenting styles
- Types of factors for a successful relationship
- Types of families
- Types of divorces
- Types of family gatherings
- Types of holidays
- 20th century dictators in Europe
- Absolute monarchs
- World leaders during World War II
- Wars led by the United States before the start of the 20th century
- The countries involved in World War I
- Types of leadership
- Types of skills that managers should have
- Types of legal entities
- Types of job applicant assessment tests
- Funding options for new businesses
- Types of strategies for making a business decision
Accounting and Finance
- Types of assets
- Types of stocks
- Types of bonds
- The major stock exchanges in the world
- Types of real estate investment strategies
- Stock market indexes
- Types of pricing models
- Types of surveys in market research
- Types of advertisements
- Types of discounts
- Types of customers
- Types of externalities
- Types of monopolies
- Types of economic theories
- Types of goods
- Types of cartels
- International economic organizations
Arts and Entertainment
- Latin dance styles
- Types of movie endings
- Types of opera goers
- Historical music periods
- Ballroom dance styles
- 20th century art movements
- Types of video games
- Types of crafts
- Types of hobbies
- Types of pets
- Ways to save money
- Types of houses
- Types of drivers
- Ways to say that you are sorry
- Home decor styles
- Types of jobs that students can get on campus
- Types of vacations
- Ways to make a home greener
- Types of sources for essay writing
How easy is it to choose among these essay classification topics? You can choose a broader topic and write more generally or pick a narrower one and write about the different things in the group in more detail. In general, you are not required to mention each and every person, event or object that goes into the particular group, especially if it is way too wide. You can handpick a few, if you wish. If you are not sure how to approach the selection of a topic and/or the particular topic that you want to write about, you can always ask your teacher for directions and advice. Before you do this, go over his/her requirements and try to find the answers that you are looking for in there
How to Write a Classification Essay
Start by defining the things that fall into the respective group. Then determine the classification factor or factors and categories. The final preparatory step involves placing the various items into the categories. This is basically the outline of your essay. It should have an introduction and a conclusion too, of course. Don’t forget to put notes that will help you do the writing more easily, quickly and effectively.
You should explain how you will classify the different items in the introduction of your essay. If you have used a more complex method for classification rather than identifying one or more criteria, you may want to devote a whole paragraph to this. When you write about the different groups and the items in them, you can go into as much details as you deem fit. This will depend on the wordcount or page limit set by your teacher too. One of the key things for doing a great job is to avoid writing too much about one group or item and then describing the other ones briefly.
It’s now time to make a final decision about your classification essay topic and to begin with the preparation for writing your essay. Use the tips shared here to produce a superb piece of writing and earn a high grade.
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