What is the Purpose of a Classification Essay?

The purpose of a classification essay is to sort or organize a variety of items into suitable groups or categories.

The following are the three primary steps involved in classifying items:

  • Sort out the items into suitable categories or groups.  
  • Make sure each category complies with one organizational principle or rule.
  • Provide examples of the individual categories to show these fit a particular grouping.

Step One - Identify Categories

When writing a classification-style essay, the first step is to identify the categories you will use. To classify certain items implies sorting them into logical or sensible groupings and devising categories for the groupings. If, for example, you wanted to organize piles of office papers or documents, it is very likely you would first figure out appropriate or logical groupings for them rather than group them in random fashion. As an example, you might arrange them according to documents that need to be attended to urgently, those that need to be circulated to co-workers, those that need to be filed away, and those that need to be consigned to trash.     

Write a Thesis Statement for Your Classification Essay

Generally speaking, the thesis statement in this type of essay should relate to the topic and how you intent to classify it or any items related to it. For example:

  • The name of the topic
  • How you intend to classify it
  • First category name
  • Second category name
  • Third category name

Classification example: California has three primary water sports for tourists, namely surfing, water skiing, and sailing.    

Key Steps for Writing a Classification Essay

  1. Decide on your topic categories: Thoroughness is important here so that no crucial categories are overlooked. Clearly, your classifications would be incomplete if you included two of the primary water sports for California but omitted the most important or renowned one for this state. Similarly, your classification may appear blurred if you include too many categories. For example, if your topic is sports shoes, it would be illogical to include stiletto heels in the same group as training shoes.  
  2. You should choose just one principle upon which to base your classifications. Once you have decided on appropriate categories, it is essential you apply the same organizational principle to these. An organizational principle can be likened to a method for sorting items. It is important to ensure a different principle of organization does not accidently get through. For example, if you choose the principle of “water activities for tourists,” you need to ensure that a different principle such as “water activities for CA residents” does not somehow creep in since the categories for these activities would not be the same.    
  3. Select the same amount of supporting examples for each of your chosen categories. The most prominent or important ones may need to be elaborated upon and these are usually listed last.    

Frequently Used Transitions in a Classification Essay

It is usual to present classifications in a transitional manner e.g. the first group or type, then the second group or type, and lastly the third group or type.   

Please Note: Always bear in mind that, when writing a classification essay, it is important to organize or sort items into suitable categories. In order to create a good classification essay, please bear these three easy steps in mind:

  • Group your items into appropriate categories
  • Decide on a single principle of organization
  • Give examples to support your categories and related items.

Below are some topic examples for a classification essay:

  • Historical events or happenings in America
  • Popular TV shows in America
  • Classification of psychological diseases
  • Racing cars
  • World destinations – these can be classified by population, amenities, popularity, etc.

You could alternatively choose a topic you are familiar with for your classification essay.