Organize information into logical groups.

As with describing, narrating, defining, and comparing, classifying is a component of all writing genres. Just as writers pause to describe ideas and events or define new concepts in most documents, they routinely classify information–that is, show or tell readers how information can be grouped into categories.

Occasionally, an entire document focuses on explaining a taxonomy–that is, a scheme of classification.

Why Classify Information?

To make knowledge, we routinely categorize information. A biologist might refer to the periodic table. A musician might speak about country music, new age music, jazz, or techno. A movie critic might talk about suspense, thriller, drama, or comedic movies. A religious studies professor might discuss Christian religions, Muslim sects, and Buddhist practices. As a college student, you might talk about specific colleges’ sports teams according to the divisions their teams play in. Universities often subdivide areas of specialty according to the following categories:

  • 1. Natural sciences
    • Agriculture
    • Geology
    • Biology
    • Zoology
  • 2. Social sciences
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Social work
  • 3. Applied sciences
    • Biomedicine
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Physics
  • 4. Humanities
    • English literature
    • American studies
    • History
    • Interdisciplinary studies
    • Modern languages
    • Architecture
    • Art history
  • 5. Fine arts
    • Painting
    • Sculpture
    • Ceramics
    • Theater

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