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Classification essays group things into classes. Those things can be objects, ideas, people, or events, but they should have some basic characteristics in common. Those shared characteristics are what place them in one broad category, or classification.

Your first task is to come up with a classification topic. There’s no end to topics you can explore in a classification essay, but when choosing a topic you should keep a few things in mind.

  1. Choose an interesting classification
  2. Define your classification
  3. List the characteristics of your classification
  4. Think of examples

Choose an interesting classification

At the very least your topic should interest you. If it doesn’t interest you, it’s probably not going to interest anyone else. It should also be a classification you’re familiar with. It’s much easier to write an essay if you already have a grasp of the subject. If you play sports, try doing a classification essay on athletes or stadiums or games. If you’re not familiar with a certain classification, you’ll have a hard time coming up with examples.

Define your classification

You should be able to easily define your classification. If you can’t define it, you won’t know what things belong in the group and what things don’t belong in the group. For example, why would you classify football as a sport but not video gaming? If you classify Islam as a religion but not atheism, then explain why.

List Characteristics of Your Classifications

As soon as you have a definition, you should be able to list a few essential characteristics of your classification. What basic qualities must something have to be considered part of this classification? What characteristics would necessarily exclude something from belonging to this classification? For example, would the lack of a government necessarily exclude an area from being classified as a country? Do religions necessarily include the belief in the transcendental?

Think of Examples

Try to think of at least five things that belong in your classification. You may end up using either more or fewer examples, but if you can’t think of at least five then you’re going to have trouble with that topic.

Here are some sample topics to get you thinking:

  • Sports
  • Religions
  • Countries
  • Cities
  • Dramas
  • Comedies
  • Art films
  • Novels
  • Political parties
  • Universities
  • Movie villains
  • Literary heroes
  • Game shows
  • Superheroes
  • Games
  • People in a theater
  • Animals in a zoo
  • Deciduous trees
  • Felines
  • Fine art