How to Write a Classification Essay in Anthropology in Line with the Requirements

Writing guide
Posted on April 23, 2020

As the name suggests, a classification essay in anthropology is the type of a college or university writing assignment where students are required to classify or put things into the right categories. You, as a student, need to stay focused on a group of objects and classify them in accordance to the chosen criteria.

In theory, things look very clear and simple. But once the topic is chosen, you may sit for days deciding on what to start with. To turn days into hours, we have created a writing guide on how to write a classification essay in anthropology. Follow it to make your essay stand out.

How to Write a Classification Essay in Anthropology: Choose the Topic

The choice of the topic for your essay in anthropology is perhaps one of the stumbling blocks of the entire writing process. Why? Usually, the choice predetermines the outcome.

The first thing you need to be aware of is that there are lots of possible issues to be covered in a written task. But even though most of them may seem to be so tempting, you need to avoid going with obvious ones. In obvious topics, classifications are already provided. So you need to concentrate on the topics that are pretty confusing for many students like you are. By clarifying and classifying them, you show that your essay is not just well-organized but yields benefits.

Practice shows that readers are less engaged in the topics that are concentrated on gender or age brackets. On the contrary, they are more interested in those giving a very deep analysis of various differences.

In most cases, students are not given a chance to choose the topic — their assignment goes with an already defined issue to be studied. But their supervisors often allow students to change the topics if the alternative direction is of academic value.

Planning How to Write a Classification Essay in Anthropology

Expert writers define four main steps of how to write a classification essay in the anthropology studies. Below, we shall present them. What we want you to know is that their order is not established.

  1. Brainstorm the ideas. Since the issue/topic is chosen, brainstorm the ideas. Think of the notions, ideas, or people that you can bring or divide into various groups. It is true that you need to go with more than a single category, but you also don’t have to overdo: usually, three or four categories are enough. Sometimes, depending on the essay word count, you may go with the whole five categories but don’t go beyond the rule of thumb.
  2. Choose the categories. So, you need three to five categories in your essay. But what categories exactly? If your topic implies the possible use of many interesting categories, before choosing, think about the angles from which you are planning to approach them. Say, one of the categories touches upon the group of people. How are you intending to classify them: by gender, age, social status, job? But you can choose only one approach. You cannot combine two or more within one classification.
  3. Research and organize gathered information. We suggest you turn to an old-fashioned way of organizing the gathered information — make bullet point notes for each of your categories. This way you will manage to highlight similarities and organize a smooth workflow. To make things easier when organizing information for your classification essay in anthropology is to go from the high priority things to the least priority ones.
  4. Work on the thesis. It forms a part of the essay’s introduction and aims at showing the approach of the entire work. You need to develop the thesis before you actually start writing — this is the easiest way to keep the crafting process on the right lines. The thesis doesn’t only name the classes or categories. It clarifies the purposes of making classifications this way, not another.

NB. There is a stable formula for how to create a decent thesis statement for a classification essay in anthropology: the chosen topic for a classification essay in anthropology + the method of classification + three to five categories. Below, you can see examples:

  • There are six major types of marital status — single, married, divorced, separated, widowed, and registered partnership.
  • In Ancient Egypt, there were nine social classes — slaves, farmers, craftsmen, scribes, soldiers, nobles, priests, vizier, and pharaoh.

Once you are done with the pre-planning steps, you can start writing your classification essay in anthropology. Before you actually complete the essay, you will work on several drafts. This is because on the way you may contribute several changes, both to minor details or to the classification on the whole.

How to Write a Classification Essay in Anthropology: The Four Parts

1. The title

Don’t mix the topic with the title. Previously, you have chosen the topic of your classification college essay in anthropology. The topic is only the direction you are planning to work in. Now you need to write the title. Keep it short (not more than 70 symbols or 10-12 words). The title must clearly state the subject of your classification:

  • The Six Major Types of Marital Status and Their Description.
  • The Classification of Social Classes in Ancient Egypt: The 9 Categories.

The title shouldn’t be long or include any creative approaches. Instead, it should give a reader the exact idea of what the essay is going to reveal. In other words, the more standardized and attribute-free the title is, the better it will be taken by your supervisor and any other reader.

2. The introduction

Above, we have touched upon the introduction part a bit while we were discussing the thesis. Now let’s get deeper into details.

The thesis statement should open your introduction part and state the main purpose of the essay as well as its value. Once you’ve announced the subject of the easy and managed to state your own attitude to this subject (in a thesis statement), you proceed to dwell on the principle of essay organization: In the essay, we shall categorize the social classes in Ancient Egypt, provide examples, and make conclusions.

By clearly stating that in this essay you are intending to divide subjects into categories/classes/parts/groups, you allow the reader to see how the entire college work is organized. Eventually, the reader will be previously prepared for the perception of the information.

3. The body

Finally, you have come up to the core part of your classification essay in anthropology — the body. The number of paragraphs depends on the number of categories or classes — usually, there are three or five of them, but sometimes (as in the example related to Ancient Egypt) there may be more.

A single paragraph touches upon one class but it is divided into two parts: the topic sentence and the class itself. Please remember that crafting a paragraph you are supposed to follow the logical sequence of the presentation of the material. In other words, it is highly recommended to start with the high-priority information and finish with the low-priority one, with the most harmful — to the least harmful.

While classifying, you cannot choose your own order of material presentation. Of course, when you classify the best literary genres for a home library, you can start with drama, go to prose, poetry and then finish with non-fiction. Or you can go in the reverse direction — it depends on you. You cannot do the same with the social classes in Ancient Egypt: you need to present the hierarchy for a reader to understand which class was the lowest and which one took the highest position. The first paragraph will cover the information about the pharaoh, the second one — the vizier, and so on.

Open every new paragraph with the topic/key sentence. The purpose of this key sentence is to present the essence of the paragraph and the class. Always support the category with a detailed interpretation of why and how this very category is different from all the others. Always give detailed examples.

The Pharaoh is the first social class category. Ancient Egyptians believed that the Pharaoh was the preimage of the God on this planet. He possessed the most power and that was why the Pharaoh was the most important and mostly praised person. Due to this social status, however, common people raised too many expectations related to the Pharaoh. For example, his well-being ensured that Egypt wasn’t invaded by enemies. This is why common people worked hard to keep their God happy.

This is the example of only one of the categories. Others should be written accordingly. However, the paragraphs should be treated as parts of the whole. To make them the whole, you need to include transition words into each paragraph. Transition words are often referred to as building bricks placed in logical places like:

  • Where the basic concept is explained
  • Where there is a discussion of some strengths and weaknesses
  • Where examples are used for clarifying the notions

Transition words make it a lot easier to move from one part of the paragraph to another in the smoothest way. These are only a few of such words and word combinations that you can use: therefore, consequently, in other words, however, to clarify, for example, further, most importantly, likewise, in the same vein, in short, to sum up.

But the body block is not the final one in the classification essay in anthropology. You also need to work on the conclusion of the entire piece.

4. The conclusion

Now you have come up to the part where it is necessary to sum up everything you have previously written. It is done in one paragraph, and this limit is perhaps what makes the conclusion part the hardest to deal with.

Writing a conclusion takes time, so you need to be patient while writing. Experts define the three key aspects of a strong conclusion of a classification essay in anthropology:

  • You use words to restate what has been presented above, not rewriting the thesis statements once again.
  • You use three to five sentences minimum.
  • You conclude all the categories and related thoughts without presenting anything new.

While summing up, you need to give the audience food for thought. So to accomplish that, your first step would be giving brief summaries of each of the categories — you are paraphrasing the summary. Then you concentrate on the main idea of the classification and answer some valuable questions like How did the hierarchical representation influence the real life of those who were at the bottom of the status ladder? (again, related to Ancient Egypt).

And finally, while your very first essay sentence is rather general, the closing sentence is always specific.

So, here you are — the draft is completed. Now it is time to proofread and edit it. Editing is easier if you use some online tools and checkers. But don’t forget that you can also ask your family or friends to check the essay for you. Along with looking for spelling or grammar mistakes, they will also provide reliable feedback: often you, as an author, may be too engaged in writing forgetting some details that should be either mentioned or omitted.

Once everything is proofread, there’s another important step — the plagiarism check. Your essay won’t get a high grade unless it is 100% original. There are various online instruments that can be accessed for free. Use them to check, add alterations and create an original work.

This is it. Now how to write a classification essay in anthropology is the task that you can easily cope with.


  1. Bidney, D. and Bidney, M. (1996). Theoretical anthropology. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction.
  2. Edward Burnett Tylor and Alfred Cort Haddon (2004). Anthropology : an introduction to the study of man and civilization. New Delhi: Cosmo Publ.
  3. Fisher, R.S. (2010). What is a classification essay? Epilepsia, 51(4), pp.714–715.
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