Classification Essay Writing Made Easy

classification essay
  • Published Date: April 24, 2017

If you were assigned a classification essay and do not know where to begin, don’t worry, it’s actually one of the easier types of essays you can write and is a great way to improve your writing skills. So you can use the classification essay assignment as an opportunity to make your writing better. With a few simple guidelines you can also make your classification essays great.

What is a Classification Essay

First, what is a classification essay anyway? Sounds dull and boring but it doesn’t have to be. A classification essay just means that you are writing an essay that classifies things. So you could classify food into Proteins, Carbs, and Vegetables. Or you could classify drinks into Soda, Beer, and Wine. The possibilities are limitless and soon you will see that classification essays are potentially limitless and that you might actually start using them on your own.

How do you write a Classification Essay

Although classification essays are not the most commonly assigned types of essay, they are more relevant in some classes than others and can be particularly common in English composition classes—which is why you need to learn how to write a classification essay.

1. What is the topic? What items are you going to classify?

Before you even start to write your essay, you need to get clear in your head what it is you are going to write about. Is it classifying countries according to their exports? Classifying music or film according to genre? Classifying animals into their genus?

A classification essay means you are classifying, of course, which is another way of saying that you are sticking things into their respective categories. So if you think of a classification essay as a categorization essay, you would not be wrong. Think about three different categories you can divide some stuff into. You’ll understand why three is the magic number of categories in a minute.

Don’t think too hard, and don’t worry—just consider how you can group the items or concepts in a way that makes sense to you. The best way to pick a topic is to start with a broad parent category that has lots of diversity within it. Need some ideas?

Ideas and Explanations

1. Food. This is one of the easiest subjects to classify. You could classify food into national cuisine types like Italian, Indian, and Chilean. Or, you could classify food into Breakfast foods, Lunch foods, and Dinner foods. Another approach is to classify foods into their nutritional categories such as Fats, Carbohydrates, and Proteins. You could even do Sweet foods, Spicy foods, and Salty foods. With food as a parent topic, your options for classification are nearly limitless!

2. Animals. Animal subjects are also easy to classify because of the great diversity in the animal kingdom. For example, you could classify animals according to their main classes of mammal, bird, and reptile. You could also write about different species within the same class such as Shore Birds, Birds of Prey, and Songbirds. As with food, the animal parent group offers a lot of opportunity for categorization.

3. Music. Because of the vast variety of music around the world, music categories are also easy for you to write about. Consider classifying European music according to historical epoch: the Renaissance, Classical, and Modern periods. Or, you could classify music into popular genres like rock, hip-hop, and jazz. You might even be able to classify each specific genre into sub-categories like dividing the rock category into punk, metal, and blues-rock.

Once you start thinking like a classifier, you will have in mind exactly what you are writing about, and you are ready to go to the next step, which is…


You might hate doing outlines, but an outline is going to help you like nothing else will when writing a classification essay. Without an outline, you are wandering around a strange city without a map. An outline keeps you on track, headed in the right direction, and prevents you from making any wrong turns. So let’s start outlining.

You remember the basic five-paragraph essay structure, right? It consists of three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion:




Your outline will start with these basic three elements but you will expand those into five elements as shown here. Remember you were supposed to find three different groups or categories for your items? Now is the time to assign one body paragraph to each of those three categories.


Body Paragraph 1/Category 1

Body Paragraph 2/Category 2

Body Paragraph 3/Category 3


You could then consider the individual items that will be placed in each of those three categories:


Body Paragraph 1/Category 1

Item 1

Item 2

Item 3

Body Paragraph 2/Category 2

Item 1

Item 2

Item 3

Body Paragraph 3/Category 3

Item 1

Item 2

Item 3


Example Outline:

I. Introduction

A. Music is one of the most important aspects of American culture.

B. Because of the multicultural nature of American society, there have emerged different categories of homegrown music.

Thesis: The three main categories or genres of American music include blues, jazz, and hip-hop.

II. Category 1: Blues is one of the most important musical styles that was born in the United States.

A. Item 1: Delta Blues

B. Item 2: Chicago Blues

C. Item 3: Blues-Rock

III. Category 2: Jazz is a genre of music that evolved similarly to the blues, from African-American culture.

A. Item 1: Ragtime and Swing

B. Item 2: Be-Bop

C. Item 3: Acid Jazz

IV. Category 3: Hip-hop emerged in African-American communities in the United States, especially in New York.

A. Item 1: Early (Electro and Funk) Hip-Hop in the 80s

B. Item 2: Gangsta Rap in the 90s

C. Item 3: Underground Hip-Hop

V. Conclusion

The three main categories of American music, blues, jazz, and hip-hop, came from African-American culture.

Thesis Statements

Now that you have roughly conceptualized your ideas and grouped your items accordingly, you can start putting that big brain of yours to work. Writing instructors love, love, love thesis statements. You need to write a thesis statement now, because if you don’t, your classification essay will not make the grade.

How do you write a thesis statement for a classification essay? Usually thesis statements are strongly argumentative, so that you can prove a point using logic. However, a classification essay is not an argumentative or persuasive essay. It’s just a classification essay and because of that, your thesis statement can be something simple like:

Example Thesis for a Simple Classification Essay:

American music can be divided into three main categories: blues, jazz, and hip-hop.


In rare cases, a more advanced writing assignment might call for a more advanced thesis statement in which you are expected to make an argument based on the categories. You could simply add a strong opinion to your thesis as in:

Example Thesis for an Advanced Classification Essay:

The three best types of American music include blues, jazz, and hip-hop.

Essay Topics 

Below are sample classification essay topics along with their respective thesis statements, which you can actually write about or use to help you brainstorm.

1. Three types of American music include blues, jazz, and hip-hop.

2. The three best global cuisines are all from Asia and include Korean, Cantonese, and Thai.

3. Fruity desserts can be classified into three types: those that use orchard fruits, those that use berries, and those that use citrus fruits.

4. The three main leadership styles include transformational, authoritarian, and democratic.

5. The three best beer styles include rauchbier, lambic, and IPA.

6. Bavarian beers can be divided into three main categories: pale lagers, weizenbiers, and dark lagers.

7. Meals of the day can be classified into three main types: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

8. Cosmetics can be classified into three main types: eye products, foundations and concealers, and lip products.

9. The three most important categories of nuts include hard-shell nuts, tree nuts, and ground nuts.

10. Three classifications of essay include an argumentative essay, compare/contrast essay, and classification essay.

11. The three most common genres of popular fiction in the English language include mystery or crime, romance, and science fiction and fantasy.

12. Movies can be classified into three main categories: big budget Hollywood films, independent and small budget films, and art films.

13. Three of the most popular movie genres include action, romance, and sci-fi.

14. Rock music can be divided into three main categories: blues-rock, punk, and metal.

15. Days are classified according to whether they are work days, weekend days, or holidays.

16. The three career categories for a person who is interested in psychology include counseling, clinical psychology, and neuroscience.

17. Drugs can be classified into the following categories: stimulants, depressants, and psychedelics.

18. The three most common parenting styles include laissez-faire, authoritarian, and authoritative.

19. American history can be classified into the colonial era, the antebellum period, and the modern era.

20. The three prominent categories of 20th century art include Post-Impressionism, Pop Art, and Conceptual Art.

21. Portable electronic devices can be classified mainly into laptops, tablets, and smartphones, with each presenting unique challenges for the developer.

22. The three classifications of business type include sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation.

23. Ethics can be grouped into three main categories including deontological ethics, virtue ethics, and consequentialist ethics.

24. The three types of democratic political systems include the parliamentary system, the republican or presidential system, and the mixed or hybrid system.

25. In the United States, there are three categories of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform.

Example Classification Essay

Students considering a career in psychology have several career options for when they graduate. Before students consider applying to a graduate school in psychology, it helps to understand the three main types of psychological inquiry and to pursue an appropriate program. The three main categories for a person who is interested in psychology include counseling and clinical psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience.

Counseling and clinical psychology refers to the branches of psychology that works directly with people with the goal of helping them with problems or mental health issues. Examples of counseling psychology jobs include being a counselor at a school, or having a private counseling or life coaching practice. Clinical psychologists tend to work more in a clinical setting such as a mental health institute, or researching different mental health issues like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. There are many different theoretical approaches to the work of counseling and clinical psychology including psychoanalysis in the Freudian tradition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and positive psychology. A student who wishes to become a counseling or clinical psychologist can apply for a Masters and/or PhD program.

Psychiatry refers to the branch of psychology that focuses on pharmacological interventions to mental health issues. For example, a psychiatrist would prescribe anti-depressants or anti-psychotics to patients who have been diagnosed with a clinical mental health disorder. Psychiatrists work with clinical and other types of psychologists but rarely provide the “talking therapy” that a counselor would provide. Although psychiatry can be combined with other types of psychology, it is a special area of study that requires attendance in medical school, which is why a student of psychology needs to know whether the field is right for them. Psychiatrists specialize in prescribing the latest research-based medications and interventions that other psychologists cannot prescribe.

Neuroscience is a branch of psychology that is focused on the study of the human brain. For example, a neuroscientist might study the effect of anger on the release of brain chemicals or hormones in the brain. A neuroscientist might also study the effect of specific drugs on the brain. Neuroplasticity is another field unique to neuroscience. Often, neuroscience is combined with cognitive psychology to study how the brain and mind interact, and whether it is possible to learn more about human consciousness. Unlike other types of psychology, neuroscience will rarely involve working directly with people, which is why a student who wants to become a neuroscientist will need to be comfortable in a laboratory environment.

Psychology can be divided into three main fields: counseling or clinical psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. Each of these fields offers exciting possibilities for the student interested in psychology. However, before applying to graduate school, the student should research each of these career categories to make appropriate decisions.


Now you should have a better idea of how to write an effective classification essay. The process is similar to writing other types of essays, and as with anything, practice makes perfect. Happy writing!

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