Guide How to Write a Classification Essay in Art: All You Need to Know

Writing guide
Posted on October 7, 2019

What is a Classification Essay?

A classification essay is one of frequently assigned tasks that students are asked to write for their classes. However, having no prior experience, students may have troubles with understanding what they are required to write. This guide will explain how to write a classification essay in art in details. First of all, a classification essay presupposes a division of the presented material, mainly the ideas, objects, or characters that have shared characteristics, into particular groups or categories. In a classification essay, it is vital to pay attention to certain features of the objects or subjects, highlight their differences and similarities, and identify relationships between them. The essays of this type are often assigned in high school or college as they help professors evaluate the students’ ability to categorize information according to specific properties, be concise, clear, and use proper grammar and syntax. Besides, the precise categorization of the learned material proves that the student has an appropriate understanding of the topic.

Choosing a Topic for a Classification Essay in Art

It is possible to write classification essays on multiple disciplines, and art is one of them. Before writing an essay, a student should come up with an idea that gets one’s attention and should decide upon an effective topic for the future essay. Taking into account that art includes a wide variety of branches, categories, genres, and styles, the number of possible questions for a classification essay is exceptionally vast. Some of the appropriate examples of a classification essay topics on art include:

  • Modern Art Movements;
  • Types of Painting Styles;
  • Types of Modern Literature;
  • People’s Attitudes Towards Performance Art;
  • Stages of Film Production;
  • Forms of Art in Ancient Rome;
  • Categories and Duration of Music Eras;
  • Classification of French Films by Genre with Examples;
  • Types of African Dances;
  • Forms of Art During the Renaissance.

Pre-Writing Tips

1. Analyzing the audience. Every classification essay has a specific purpose, and to determine one, it is essential to pay attention to the future readers of the piece, their knowledge, needs, and expectations. It may be necessary to define certain terms or explain concepts for the readers to understand them, and that is why the writer should have a proper level of knowledge of the discipline to be able to present the information in a clear way for the audience. Moreover, providing some background information may be needed.
2. Brainstorming the topic. Indeed, selecting an interesting topic is one of the most important steps in the prewriting process. However, the topic should also be easily divided into categories. Therefore, when writing a classification essay in art, one should not choose to write solely about the Renaissance but about the forms of art during that period.
3. Collecting relevant information. After selecting a topic, a student should start gathering information related to the topic. While searching for sources, it is necessary to remember that they should be credible, and that is why it is better to focus on various books, scholarly articles, and official websites of different organizations. Moreover, students should not use data presented in Wikipedia and other non-scholarly websites as they may include incorrect information and multiple errors.
4. Categorizing the topic. The basis of any classification essay is a division of objects according to individual characteristics. Thus, after finding all the necessary information, a student should decide how to effectively categorize the data in a way that will help the reader understand the differences between the concepts, objects, and ideas. When dividing the data into categories, it is vital to provide examples, be as specific as possible, and make sure that everything relates to the topic.
5. Creating an outline of the essay. Even though everyone’s writing style is different, following the structure of an effective classification essay is of exceptional importance, and that is why deciding on how to divide and present the information before starting writing can help the student stay organized. What is more, if the essay is adequately structured, the professor will see that the student not only knows a lot about the topic but also has proper writing skills. Therefore, one should make sure that the essay is organized either spatially or chronically and create a plan of the basic categories in a particular order.

Structure of a Classification Essay

The introduction part should include some general information about the topic and a thesis statement, the number of body paragraphs should be no less than three, and the conclusion should summarize everything presented in the essay concisely. If the subject of the essay is complicated, and the number of categories that are to be discussed is rather extensive, the paper can include more than three body paragraphs.


A classification essay begins with an introduction that should present general information about the topic and catch the reader’s attention. Therefore, the introduction part should not be too vague, yet it should not include any citations or information not known for the reader. Clearly identifying the subject is the key (for instance, types of dances, genres of music, forms of art) as the topic should be clear from the very beginning.

Next, the introduction should include a thesis statement, which is usually one sentence that identifies the main types or classes of something. However, a thesis statement should not include one’s personal opinion on the topic of the paper. It should be as unbiased as possible and easy to understand. For instance, an introduction to an essay about the main types of visual art can be as follows:

‘Visual arts is an essential part of art in general as it presents a wide range of art forms that not only developed on their own but also influenced other forms of art and other disciplines. The majority of famous art pieces belong to the category of the visual arts. Therefore, even though visual arts include multiple forms such as textile, conceptual, and performing arts, the most famous are undoubtedly painting, sculpture, photography, filmmaking, and architecture.’

The next step is to present information in the body paragraphs that should follow a clear structure. They should be informative and logically concise and should start with a topic sentence introducing what the section will be about so that the audience will know what will follow.

Arrangement of the body paragraphs depends on the topic and the writer. For instance, the forms of art should be presented either in the chronological order or according to their popularity. It is imperative to ensure that the chosen order matches the data presented in the thesis statement.

The body paragraphs should include critical points related to the topic presented, details, examples, and evidence from credible sources. When writing about art, it is vital to include historical data, the names of the artists and most notable figures related to the topic, as well as various terms and notions from the described field. Supporting details and evidence should be taken solely from the relevant sources that may include books, scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, and various credible websites. It is crucial to find the sources that will prove that the essay is not merely someone’s opinion but a scholarly piece.

resenting examples when classifying certain art forms or genres is of extreme importance too. It would be impossible for the reader to understand the difference between multiple music or literature genres without having an example of each that can be analysed and referred to. Therefore, finding examples that illustrate specific categories in the most precise and detailed way is one of the primary and most complicated tasks of the writer.

After presenting all the necessary information in the body paragraphs, the student should come up with the conclusion to the essay. This part should provide a summary of everything mentioned before, yet it should not solely restate the thesis statement. A proper conclusion adds additional information and an insight into the topic as well as offers a brief summary of each of the categories discussed in the body. If the task allows, the student may state personal opinion and recommend a particular type, yet it is essential to explain one’s choice and conclusion then.

Post-Writing Tips

After finishing the essay, there is a need to check for errors, mistakes, and coherence. The writing should be logical, so the student should look for unity and supporting arguments that allow the reader to easily understand everything written and not have any questions. All the parts of the essay should have transitional phrases so that one thought logically and smoothly flows into another.

What is more, it is vital to look for mistakes in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and some mechanical errors. A great tip would be to revise the essay after several hours after writing it if the deadline allows as it will help to see it from a different perspective and notice those mistakes and changes that could have been left unnoticed before. A student can also ask one’s friend or parent to read the essay and evaluate it as even the most skilled writer tends to make mistakes. One’s peers can review the quality of the content, propose some changes and new ideas that can be implemented in the essay, and give an unbiased review of the writing.
The final step would be to self-check the essay one more time, and several questions can help a student do it:

  • Does this essay reflect the topic and answer the main question?
  • Does the thesis statement make a claim and introduce what will be discussed further?
  • Did I share all the necessary and relevant data regarding the topic?
  • Are the sources I used credible and properly cited?
  • Are the transitions between the paragraph smooth and coherent?
  • Are body paragraphs well organized?
  • Did I use examples to illustrate the data?
  • Are my points concrete?
  • Does each paragraph introduce a new idea/concept/category?
  • Is the quality of the supporting arguments high?
  • Does the conclusion summarize everything written in the essay?
  • Does the essay broaden the reader’s knowledge and introduce some new ideas?

The list of the questions is not complete and can be changed by the student depending on the assignment and the topic of one’s essay.
Considering that art is a rather broad and complicated discipline that encompasses a variety of branches, it can be rather challenging to write about it as well as for the readers to understand some concepts and terms. That is why the student should make sure that the final paper makes the topic clear for the readership and not puzzles them even more. Thus, all specific terms should be explained, and all the information should be relevant to the point of the essay. It is a common mistake to include extra information for the sake of reaching the word count, yet it should be avoided as unnecessary information may seriously affect the structure and coherence of the essay.

To conclude, the essential tips for writing an effective classification essay on art include:

  • Choosing a topic that is interesting both for the writer and the reader and making sure that the essay fully answers the question;
  • Creating a clear thesis statement;
  • Being able to classify and describe the objects accurately with the help of examples;
  • Avoiding mixing various criteria for classification;
  • Using proper transition phrases: the first/second/last group, can be divided/classified, a final subdivision, in the same branch, the most critical piece;
  • Using the comparison and contrast technique to point out the similarities and differences between the categories.

The writing of a classification essay can be rather perplexing and messy, and that is why the following guideline should be helpful for the students that have never written classification essay before or for those who have difficulty with choosing a topic or structuring their essays properly. It is vital to remember that a clear message and a neat organization are the key characteristics of a classification essay, and it usually takes more time and effort than other types of essays. Yet, there is more room for creativity, especially in the essays about art. Therefore, choose a topic and start writing as this process can be incredibly entertaining!

Classification Essay. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Nordquist, R. (2019, July 03). How to Write a Classification Essay. Retrieved from
Writing A Classification Paper – TIP Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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