classification & division

What is it?
Classification answers the question: What are the main types or kinds of this group of
things? Division answers the question: What are the parts or characteristics that make
up this single thing? In classification, you sort a group of things into categories or
classes. For example, the different kinds of human living environments are: urban,
suburban and rural. In division, you identify and explain the parts that make up a whole.
For example, the parts of the urban environment are: residential, commercial, industrial
and green zones. You can use both division and classification together: the different
kinds of human living environments and the zones of each.
Why? What is the purpose?
The purpose of division and classification is to separate and sort things so we can make
sense of the world around us. Division and classification organize information into
logically related chunks so that we may analyze and evaluate. If we have a clear
picture of all the parts of a city, then we can analyze how to improve its design. If we
have a complete picture of all the different types of human environments there are, then
we can evaluate which kind would be best for us to live in, considering our lifestyle.
When would classification and division be required?
Classification and division are required whenever we are looking at the kinds or parts of
English Literature: How do postmodern writers play with the formal elements of the
short story?
Arts Management: Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of fundraising
Psychology: Describe the different parts of the self, according to Freud, Jung and
Sociology: Examine the gender stereotypes in contemporary television culture.
Biology: What are the different species of carnivorous plants indigenous to South
How? What is the technique?
CLASSIFICATION: The kinds (or categories or types) of S are a, b, c, and d.
Decide how you will group your subjects into classes according to your purpose and
to the common principle of selection (scheme) that unites them. For example,
foreign aid agencies (the set) might be classified as governmental, nongovernmental and private (classes), according to who funds and oversees them
(scheme) for the purpose of an International Development Studies analysis of
tsunami relief efforts.
Make sure you have included all the types of your subject. A classification of
monotheistic religions should not leave out Judaism.
Make sure your categories don’t overlap. Make sure no example can be included in
more than one category. If a significant number of hero myths are about tricksters,
make a separate category for trickster myths and distinguish these from hero myths.
When describing a class, explain how it fits into the overall set and what makes it
distinct from the other classes in the set.
Always include an example for every class.
If appropriate to your purpose, evaluate the significance of each class and/or
compare it to other classes in the same scheme.
Organize all the classes into an organized whole and present in a logical order.
DIVISION: The component parts of S are a, b, c, and d. The significant characteristics of S are a, b, and c.
Decide how you will divide your subject according to your purpose. For example,
Choose whether you want to do an exhaustive (including all the parts) or a
representative (including just the major parts) division. For example, an exhaustive
budget for a business plan would include how much pens cost but a representative
budget would only include a group sum for office supplies.
When appropriate, use process analysis to relate the parts to each other. For
example, dividing the human respiratory system into its parts (nose, lungs, etc.)
makes more sense when the functions of these parts in relation to processes
(inhalation, exhalation) is described.
Assemble all the parts into an organized whole and present in logical order.
Norton, Sarah and Waldman, Neil. Canadian Content. 2nd.ed. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada,
Stifler, Bill. “Classification/Division Essays.” 24 March 2005 <>.
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