What Is The Difference Between Classification And Division Essay

Classification & Division Essay

Classification and division is a rhetorical style that, in essay format, takes a whole and splits it up into parts and then places the divided information into various categories. While you may see this rhetorical style used within a single paragraph, it’s not uncommon to write an entire essay using a classification and division format.

A classification and division essay combines two different techniques. First, you would divide a complex and difficult topic into subtopics for clarity and explanation purposes. Next, you would determine what categories are needed and what information fits into those categories. Think of a newspaper. All of the information is divided into different parts: news, advertisements, and classifieds. Then the information is classified into different categories. For example, news may be categorized as sports, international, local, lifestyle, etc.


NOTE: You have to be very clear in a classification and division essay. Your reader needs to understand how you came up with your categories and why information fits into these categories. Therefore, be sure that you make the guidelines for your categories clear to the reader and that you don’t merge, confuse, or have superficial categories.

How should I go about choosing my topic?

Begin by reading the explanations below.  Examples of each are provided below!

  • Division Essay: find a topic that people might tend to underestimate or over-simplify.  In other words, choose something that the average person might not know much about, and therefore can't really understand how complex or interesting that topic really is.  Your job in the essay will be to break your topic down into meaningful and important categories.

  • Classification Essay: think about the categories we place things in everyday and the characteristics of those categories.  The topic you choose should allow you to argue that something has been misplaced.

How should I organize this essay?

As you write, keep these guidelines in mind: 

  1. Your thesis statement and introduction will need to explain why these divisions/ classifications should matter to your reader.
  2. Your thesis statement and introduction MUST define or explain the category you plan to discuss (i.e. A sport is a competitive, physical activity therefore cheerleading should be considered a sport.)
  3. You should organize your body paragraphs so that each division or category has it's own paragraph or section. (i.e. cardio exercise is paragraph 1 and weightlifting is paragraph 2, etc.)

Division Essay Examples

If you want to lose weight, simply saying that you're going to "exercise" everyday may not be the most effective way to do so.  Exercising is more complex than many people realize--attaining your goals will involve understanding how different types of exercise can help you achieve your goals.   

Types of Exercise

  • cardio: burns calories and strengthens your heart (running, using an elliptical or stair-stepping machine, etc.)
  • weight lifting: tones muscles, increases physical strength, burns fat (using weights or weighted machines)
  • recreational/sports: depending on the sport, can provide both cardio and toning benefits (cycling, tennis, kayaking)

We could also narrow this topic down a bit further and write about the important differences between different types of cycling.

Types of Cycling:  stationary (exercise) biking, road biking, mountain biking, recreational biking

Classification Essay Examples

To write this type of essay, we'll need to think about things that should or should not be placed in a particular category.

Example: Batman (that's our topic!) is not a superhero (category people place him in), but is simply a local vigilante (category he belongs in).

Ask yourself: Why do I think that...?

  • Does not possess super powers (powers most humans don't possess).  
  • Chooses to be a hero, rather than being "chosen" by others/other forces.

Example: Cheerleading (That's our topic!) should be considered a sport (It belongs in the category, "sports"). 

Ask yourself: Why do I think that...?

  • cheerleaders go to "practice" and must be in good physical shape
  • cheerleaders work together toward a common goal
  • cheerleaders must "try out" for their squad and often compete against other squads

Sample Papers

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