Students often encounter different types and formats of essays as part of their assessment. One of the most common types of essays is the classification essay. Here, a classification essay implies an essay written by dividing or organizing material into particular categories. In the classification essay, the student is expected to clearly categorize the material, while remaining concise and adhering to rules of grammar and syntax. When writing this type of essay, it helps to pick a topic that can be disintegrated into smaller or more refined categories, that all link to the topic’s classification. This article explores the definition and structure of a classification essay.

There are two main parts in the definition of the classification essay, the ‘classification’ and the ‘essay’. Classification implies the process of grouping together things or people according to shared similarities. An example of a simple classification is to group cars according to their colors or body sizes. Such categories are useful in letting you identify the relationships between objects of people. In this way you can organize and compare the information. In classification, it is not necessary that the categories exist in the real world. They can exist in the mind of the writer. For instance, it is possible to classify different college students according to their study habits, or the way they study. You could also classify different students according to their age, religion or GPA.

The second part of defining a classification essay is the ‘essay’ element. Here, an essay implies a brief literary composition on a specific subject or theme, often written in prose, and can be speculative, interpretive or analytic. Different types of essay exist, and with each type comes different requirements in terms of content and format. Nonetheless, regardless of the essay type, all forms of academic writing must be coherent, and must adhere to the rules of grammar and syntax. In addition to these requirements, a classification essay takes a group of people or objects and breaks it down in the following ways:


Here, the writer breaks down the topic into several component parts that comprise the whole topic. For instance, the three important parts of an automobile are the axis, the engine, and the body. The rest of the essay then analyzes these parts in a coherent and concise manner.


In terms of characteristics, the classification essay outlines the features of the object or subject. For instance, when considering android phones, it helps to consider the various features that characterize such devices. Classification could also be used to define an object according to the features. For instance, a concept like a good teacher can be defined by splitting it into the various characteristics (like creative, understanding, competent), and then describe each attribute or give examples.


Alternatively, a classification essay could break down the topic into the various types of the object or subject. Staying with the example of cars, the essay could look at the various types of cars, including sedans, sports cars, and minivans. Irrespective of your chosen approach, there are some general guidelines to consider when writing a classification essay.

So how can you go about writing sound classification essay? Here are some useful tips to make your categories as clear and concise as possible. Choose only one criterion or principle to organize everything into one category. In addition, develop categories that permit the inclusion of everything or everyone you are classifying.

The next important consideration when looking to write a quality classification essay is the selection of the topic. Please note that the topic choice influences the relevance of your paper as well as the depth of your analysis. Choose a topic that would be interesting to your audience. As you formulate the topic, be original, creative and have fun.

Picking an informative, yet manageable topic can be one of the most challenging elements of essay writing. Your topic should be one that is interesting to you as well as your readers. In other words, you are likely to express yourself more clearly and with more insight if you are genuinely intrigued by the topic. In addition, choose your topic based on the course material that you have understood.

During the actual writing, much of your work will go towards supporting and explaining your thesis and individual perspective, meaning that you need to understand and be comfortable with talking about the material that will support your essay. In addition, you need to pick a topic that is not only challenging but also thought provoking. Most importantly, choose a topic that is specific enough to allow you to form an opinion, but also general enough to allow you to locate enough information and write a substantial essay.

At this level, avoid topics that are already obvious to your audience. For instance, do not write an essay the three branches of government. Instead, try to be original in your topic selection, and have a basis for the categories. For instance, you may have noticed the wide range in the quality of nursing care, and would like to write a paper categorizing nurses according to their roles in the healthcare team. Clearly label your categorizations.

In terms of the structure, here are some tips:

First, pick your main points carefully

The core of writing a high-quality classification essay is the way you choose the main points. It is these main points that will influence your classification. An important tip here is to make sure that all your points are given equal importance and weight. Giving more weight to some points over others sends the wrong message that the others are of less significance. Secondly, it helps to make sure that the points do not overlap. For instance, when writing an essay on popular music, it is easy for the category of folk and rock to overlap with a category of male vocalist. Most importantly, make sure that you do not omit any part of your subject.

White a clear and succinct introduction

The introduction is the place where you get to describe the essay topic using broad opening statements. As you progress into the introduction, you will need to get more specific on the importance of the paper. In other words, the introduction gives you the chance to prepare your readers for what is contained in the rest of the paper. At the end of the introduction, there must be a tentative thesis statement.

Write a carefully crafted thesis that clearly states your purpose

The thesis statement is perhaps the most important aspect of any quality essay. A thesis statement helps your essay by controlling the subject matter, while stating something that is important to the audience. In other words, the thesis statement is the one statement that not only summarizes the main points in the essay, but also states why the paper is important and worth the reader’s time. If your essay lacks a well-crafted and strong thesis statement, then the paper will be lacking in focus and inadequate. To summarize, a good thesis statement ought to:

  • Identify a specific purpose and a particular way of realizing that purpose
  • Assert something regarding the essay
  • Be identifiable, and should be clear and concise
  • Come at the end of the introductory paragraph

Here is an example of a simple thesis statement. “Our chess team comprises several categories of players.” Notice how this statement outlines the purpose of the essay and summarizes what the reader can expect from the rest of the paper.

In the body paragraphs, explain every category

Make sure that each point is addressed in a separate paragraph. Every category that you have listed in the thesis statement ought to be discussed in its own body paragraph. In general, classification essays can be as short or long as necessary. The length of your paper will be determined by, among other things the categories in your paper and the paper instructions. Each category should be supported with several examples that offer evidence. In an ideal sense, each category ought to be supported by a similar number of examples. The goal here is to explain each of the categories, explaining how each example provided fits into the category.

Conclude by offering a summary of all the key points in the paper, and restating the purpose of the essay

Your conclusion is your chance to have the final word on the issues discussed. In the same way that the introduction gives you the chance to make a good first impression, it is also important to make a good final impression. The goal of the classification essay conclusion is to restate the main points in your paper. In other words, it is the paragraph that reminds the audience of the strengths of your argument by reiterating the most significant evidence of the argument. However, it helps to ensure that the conclusion is not a mere repetition of some aspects of the paper, as this dilute the arguments made in the paper. Instead, write a conclusion that succinctly and persuasively restates your thesis. Remember not to introduce new information in the conclusion.