Guide on How to Write a Classification Essay: Know-How

Writing guide
Posted on February 8, 2019

The Definition of a Classification Essay

The most straightforward approach to clarify the essence of a classification paper is that it is a formal bit of composition intended to exhibit your abilities in categorizing and generalization. You will need to sort out your chosen subject into categories and present examples that fit each. It is up to you to decide on what will serve as a criterion for characterization, but you should be able to clarify your thinking.

Pre-writing Tips from Our Writing Experts

In order to write an effective classification essay, you should do research and gather as much information as possible. To start with, ask yourself such thing: “What am I interested in?”, “In what categories it can include?”, “What is a criterion for my classification?”, and “Are there enough accurate examples to describe those categories?”

The following tips ought to help you answer these questions.

1. Choosing a Topic for a Classification Essay
There is a wide range of available topics that you can explore in your essay. These are some of the examples that you can use:

  • Types of Political Systems;
  • Models of Parental Education;
  • Genres of Video Games;
  • Types of Healthy Diets;
  • Effective Techniques to Quit Smoking;
  • Types of Behavioral Disorders;
  • Philosophical Theories of Human Identification;
  • Classification of Art Movements;
  • Types of Drinkers;
  • Types of Conspiracy Theories;
  • Classification of College Students;
  • Popular Types of YouTube Videos.

As you see, there is a myriad of topics to choose from since there are many subjects that can be put into categories. Just pick one of them and proceed to the next step – classification.

2. Define Categories
Make sure that your categories match each other and that you did not leave out any critical ones. For instance, if you examine the types of political systems, then it would be reasonable to take into consideration the most common ones, such as Democracy, Republic, and Communism. However, if you decide to substitute Democracy with Theocracy, then your list of categories would be inappropriate since, in contrast to the other mentioned examples, Theocracy is an unconventional political system.

3. Choose Your Criteria for a Classification
Once you defined your categories, it is vital to fit them into a specific organizing principle. Ask yourself how you would like to sort them. For instance, your criteria for the classification of political systems can consider their effectiveness. What form of government is found to be the most effective? Build your essay on the discussion of each of the mentioned types in accordance with this particular principle.

The Structure of a Classification Essay

Following a strict structure in a classification essay is essential. The most popular and effective approach to writing essays is the “five paragraph” method. It comprises three parts: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. In fact, each section of the paper should perform its specific role.

1. Introduction
It is of utmost importance to start your essay right in order to evoke interest in a reader. What constitutes a good introduction is, first of all, a “hook” or in other words a sentence that can grab attention instantly. A hook can be a quote of an eminent person, statistics, or an anecdote. For instance, if you are writing an essay that classifies types of drinkers, then your introduction can begin with the following sentence: Ernest Hemingway once said, “I drink to make other people more interesting.” In this manner, the name of this famous author and his quote, which is connected to your topic, will earn your readers’ attention.

After you managed to get people interested in your topic, smoothly lead them to the subject of the research. Explain to your readers what is going to be categorized in the essay. After this, get straight to the point by introducing the purpose of your classification essay.

The last and the most significant part of your classification essay introduction is a thesis. A thesis statement is something that any essay should contain. A solid thesis should follow a set of specific rules in accordance with the type of paper. In this manner, for classification essay, a thesis statement should introduce the topic, provide the criteria for classification, and aptly name chosen categories.

However, sometimes it is hard for writers to build a strong thesis. Here is an example of a weak thesis statement that concerns the topic of political systems: “There are such forms of government as Democracy, Republic, and Communism.” As you might have noticed, this sentence only names the categories and the topic of the research but fails to demonstrate a criterion of classification.

In turn, a strong thesis on the same topic will combine all three aspects: “The forms of government that survived through ages, each effective in its own way, are Democracy, Republic, and Communism.” This thesis statement vividly introduces the topic, provides the criteria of classification, which is longevity and efficiency, and names the categories that are going to be examined in the paper.

2. Body Paragraphs
The body of the paper is a core fragment of the research where you ought to prove that your abilities to gather and analyze information are flawless. Keep in mind that each paragraph should display only one particular idea. For instance, if you have three different classifications, then your paper is likely to be divided into three body sections, each of which covers one of the chosen categories. What is more important, make sure to put quality before quantity since it is always better to write a few body paragraphs that would provide enough supporting material and finish your thought, than to disperse your attention in numerous short and incomplete sections.

You can order your body paragraphs in accordance with your criterion. For instance, if your classification is aimed at defining the most effective type of healthy diets, then you can start with the weakest approach and finish with the one that you consider being the most efficient. Thus, you will provide your readers with the impression of gradation so as to show that there is something more useful in the next paragraph than it is in the previous.

Topic sentence: Start your body paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the fragment’s central idea to a reader. In a classification essay, such sentence should show how a discussed category is connected to the criteria of classification.

Pros and cons: If possible, consider both strength and weaknesses of a discussed category. For instance, if the topic of your classification essay concerns the types of political systems, then mentioning these two opposites is vital for the understanding of the governments’ capabilities and incompetence.

Provide examples: It is critical for a classification essay to back up your categories with relevant examples. Keep in mind, however, that you should strive to distribute them between the paragraphs evenly. In this manner, if your first body fragment examines two examples of its category, then the following sections should do appropriately the same.

Use sources: The usage of sources is a crucial element of any academic piece of writing, and a classification essay is not an exception. You should incorporate accurate quotes from authoritative sources so that your statements would not look empty or far-fetched. Make sure, however, that you follow a required formatting style rules, since, for instance, an MLA in-text quote will look slightly different from that of APA format.

Transition: Try to create a transition between the body paragraphs, so that it would not look like a mere list of categories. You should show how each of them relates to each other and the chosen criteria of classification. There are numerous transitional phrases that will help you achieve the desired unity of the text.

3. Conclusion
The last but not the least section of your classification essay is the concluding paragraph. In this fragment, you have to summarize briefly every important idea that was mentioned in the paper. At first, start your conclusion with a corresponding phrase that would indicate summarization, and restate your thesis. Then, make a summary of the selected categories, so as to underscore the work done.

Besides, do not give any new information in the concluding paragraph since it would mean that you have failed to explore your topic in the body section fully.

Create a Plan of an Essay

Remember that even a simple outline can serve as a significant boost for your productivity and contribute to the efficiency of the essay’s message. Furthermore, an outline ought to help you organize your ideas and show whether there is a relationship between them. Thus, it is always better to plan your writing beforehand so that you would not face a deadlock during the process.
An outline should consist of short but informative statements that will guide you through problematic situations. It is a space in which you should try to incorporate each of the mentioned above tips and which defines the order of your essay’s sections.

Here is an example of how an outline should be structured according to the “five paragraphs” method:

  1. Introduction
    • Hook: Explain what is going to be categorized.
    • Background: Name the purpose of your essay.
    • Thesis statement: Build a thesis statement according to the following technique: topic, criteria of classification, list of selected categories.
  2. Three Body Paragraphs
    Describe Each of the Categories in the Following Manner:
    • Topic sentence: Show relation to classification criteria;
    • Use sources: Incorporate supporting material;
    • Pros and cons: Name strengths and weaknesses;
    • Provide several examples.
  3. Conclusion
    • Restate the thesis;
    • Briefly summarize each of the categories.

This scheme of an outline can perfectly fit any topic of a classification essay and will undoubtedly prove its effectiveness during the writing process. All you have to do is to choose a specific subject of exploration, fill in the spaces accordingly, and extend them to a required limit.

Post-writing Tips

The moment of triumph after finishing writing the paper should not prevent you from revising it. If you want your classification essay to be effective, then make sure that you follow such post-writing activities as:
1. Proofreading
At first, proofread your essay from its very beginning until the end. Pay particular attention to grammar and punctuation since the most commonly made mistakes are often connected with them. The most critical issues are usually caused due to tense disagreements, incorrectly spelled words or missed commas. Besides, strive to get your essay devoid of personal pronouns like “I” or “we” since it is unacceptable in academic writing. Although all these problems might seem not significant, they really do affect readers’ perception of the text and attitude towards its author. In fact, there are numerous platforms, such as Grammarly, that will help you with proofreading.
2. Referencing
Do not forget to double check the places where you used in-text citations and a reference page. Make sure that the paper follows required formatting style guidelines. In case there are any places where you are uncertain whether you used a correct reference to a source, then you can consult the Purdue OWL website, where you can find rules and examples of the formatting styles.
3. Editing
After revising the paper, you may notice that it is still incomplete. Maybe there is an idea in a body paragraph that you have not examined to the fullest, or perhaps you used passive voice too often? Remember that editing is also a part of the writing process, so try to give it proper time and consideration.


All of this information is a piece of fundamental knowledge for those who want to write a classification essay. Remember that the first draft is not always excellent, but it is a thorough revision that makes it perfect. You should also know that there is no ultimate recipe for an effective classification essay, but the mentioned above classification essay writing tips ought to facilitate your writing process and help you reach the best possible result.

100 Classification essay topics for your next assignment. Retrieved from
Classification & division essay. Retrieved from
Ekincier, G. (2011). Classification essay. Retrieved from
Nordquist, R. (2018). What are 50 topics to classify paragraphs, essays, and more?. Retrieved from
Writing a classification paper. Retrieved from

Upgrade your essays with these FREE writing tools!
Get started now