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Classification and Division

Page history last edited by Don Pogreba 11 years, 1 month ago

What is Division/Classification‌?

Classification essays involve sorting things into general categories, while division essays involve dividing something general into more specific categories. Generally, the purpose of division/classification essays is to inform the reader, but they can be used for persuasion, satire, or other purposes.

The two patterns, division and classification, or dividing and grouping, move in different directions initially, but when put in use for analysis and understanding, the two processes become invaluable tools for organization.

Classification/division: to arrange or organize according to class or category.

· Classification: placing people, objects, etc into categories

· Division: breaking down large subjects into divisible parts.


Classification/Division Thesis

The thesis for a classification/division essay should:

  • identify your subject.
  • explain the categories you will discuss.
  • show the relationships between the categories.
  • establish the importance/significance of the categories chosen.


Three Guidelines for Classification/Division

  1. All of the categories should result from the same principle. If you decided to divide sports fans into fanatics, dilettantes and the like, it would not be logical to include Giants fans, because there could be overlap in the categories. If writing a paper about high school, you would not want to list freshmen, seniors, and jocks for the same reason.
  2. All of the subclasses should be on the same level. You would not want to divide comedy, drama and westerns, because westerns are on a lower organizational level.
  3. You should include all of the important subclasses and ignore those that are not relevant. If you wrote a paper about high school students and divided the paper into freshmen, sophomores and seniors, a reader would not understand the omission of juniors. Conversely, if you wrote a paper about great football dynasties and included the Cowboys, Steelers, 49ers, and Buccaneers, a reader might question your sanity for including Tampa Bay.


Examples of Division Essay Topics

  • The ways people cope with bad news
  • Ways of raising children
  • Self-defense techniques
  • Types of television shows
  • Types of popular music groups
  • Types of running shoes


Examples of Classification Essay Topics


  • Roommates
  • Study habits
  • Sports fans
  • Diets
  • Portable music players
  • Political ideologies


Example of Traditional Classification/Division

Thesis: While many people love sports, they may not have the talent to pursue a professional career in athletics. These people need not give up their dream of a career in sports, however, as there are many alternative paths available as careers in sports.

Paragraph 1: Administrators: management, coaches, general managers

Paragraph 2: Medical Staff: trainers, team doctors, sports psychologists

Paragraph 3: Facilities Staff: architects, stadium designers, groundskeepers

Paragraph 4: Financial Roles: agents, concessionaires, memorabilia dealers.


Example of Classification/Division Outline

Thesis: Most readers know Mark Twain as a writer of novels such as Huckleberry Finn, but his nonfiction works--his travel narratives, his essays, his letters, and especially his autobiography--deserve more attention.

I. Travel narratives

     A. Roughing It

     B. The Innocents Abroad

     C. Life on the Mississippi

II. Essays

     A. "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses"

     B. "How To Tell A Story"

     C. "The Awful German Language"

III. Letters

     A. To W. D. Howells

     B. To his family

IV. Autobiography


Self-Review Questions for Classification/Division

  1. Have you clearly defined your goal -- to write a division or classification paper‌?
  2. Do you make meaningful divisions or classifications -- does your paper oversimplify a complex subject‌?
  3. Are your categories clearly defined‌?
  4. Do you avoid overlapping categories‌?
  5. Do you use parallel patterns to develop categories and items‌?
  6. In classification, do you use a single standard of evaluation‌?
  7. Do all the parts of your subject clearly fit into a single category‌ Are there any items left over‌?

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