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Guide: How to write a classification essay

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  • Subject area(s): Types of essay
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 5 December 2019*
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  • Words: 419 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 2 (approx)
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The classification essay is designed to get students to think creatively. In a classification essay, a student defines categories within a broader definition. For example, students might classify modern types of government. Because the student must give examples and explain how the examples are classified as well as provide the criteria for classification, this essay is persuasive. This essay is particularly well suited for a composition class that is directed toward science and engineering majors, because these major will often have to work with classifications and precise definitions on the job.


The tone of a classification essay must be professional. Because the classification essay is related to workplace writing, students should approach the essay as if they were writing to a boss or colleagues in a work environment. Classification essays must use precise language to add clarity to the explanations of the categories. As a result, students should avoid slang and imprecise words, such as “huge” or “nowadays.”

Introduction and Thesis

The introduction of a classification essay should explain which term the student is covering and provide an explanation of the criteria the student used to develop the separate categories. The thesis should provide an overview of what these categories are. For example, a thesis for a classification essay might state:

“Modern governments fall under six general categories: democracy, republic, monarchy, aristocracy, dictatorship, and democratic republic.”

Supporting Paragraphs

The supporting paragraphs should each outline one of the categories stated in the thesis. Each paragraph should have a strong topic sentence that identifies the category that the student will be discussing. Then, the rest of the paragraph should explain the characteristics of the category, as well as anything that is related to the category but differs slightly. For example, if the paragraph covers a dictatorship, the student might explain that some dictatorships pretend to be a democracy by allowing elections, but that the elections are corrupt or suspect.

These examples may or may not need to be supported by research. As a result, it is important to read the assignment criteria to determine what the professor or instructor expects in regard to using sources. If sources are required, make sure to use credible sources of information such as university or government websites, books, or peer-reviewed academic articles.


The conclusion should summarize the categories. In some cases, looking to the future is also appropriate. If any new categories are emerging, the student can explain this new trend as well as what we can expect in the coming years.

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