The Blog of John Hewitt

Eight Tips for Writing a Division Essay

The purpose of the division essay, also known as the classification essay or the division and classification essay, is to separate things into categories. For example, you might write about diseases that have similar symptoms, or about categories of comedy, or about the causes behind social unrest. The key to a division essay to discuss the differences and delineations between things that are in many ways similar or contribute toward a similar whole. Here are some tips to help you write a division essay:

  • A division essay must contain at least three categories. When you have only two categories, your essay would be classified as compare and contrast.
  • The best division essays find new categories that haven’t already been discussed to death. The three branches of the United States government have been categories a million times. An essay that categorizes the ways the executive branch and the judicial branch interact would be a more original approach to similar material.
  • Classifications should use the same elements for each item in the category. If you classify one category by size, speed, color and price, you need to classify every category by size, speed, color and price.
  • Give every category an equal amount of attention and discussion. If one categories merits a full page of discussion, all the categories should receive about a page of discussion.
  • Your introduction should mention all of the categories you wish to discuss and mention the criteria you intend to use to differentiate between the categories.
  • Try to be thorough, don’t leave a category out. If it looks like there are too many categories to discuss using the amount of space and time you have available, then look for a less complex topic. For short essays, it is usually better to stick to topics that can be divided into three or four categories.
  • Make sure that your categories can all be divided using the same criteria. If two categories are very similar and the rest are very different, your essay may feel unbalanced.
  • Outlines are useful for most types of essays, but they are especially useful for division essays because they give you the opportunity to quickly review the criteria you are using to differentiate each category. Make sure that, you have researched and identified the key comparison points for each category.

A List of Essay Writing Don’ts

Topic / Research

  • Don’t try to solve the mysteries of the world in an essay. Stick to topics that you can handle in the space and time provided to you.
  • Don’t write about a topic you don’t understand. Pick a topic you can write intelligently about and take the time to research your topic before writing your essay.
  • Don’t use web sites as your only sources. Read some actual books or academic papers.
  • Don’t make things up.
  • Don’t include irrelevant information.
  • Don’t be afraid to start over. Sometimes your initial approach won’t work. Recognize that and move on.
  • Don’t feel like you have to agree with the experts.
  • Don’t plagiarize.
  • Don’t forget to answer a question.

Style

  • Don’t provide lengthy plot summaries or paraphrases.
  • Don’t provide a collection of generic declarations and cliches.
  • Don’t use overly long quotations.
  • Don’t pad your writing. Take the space to say everything that is necessary, but don’t use a paragraph to provide a sentence worth of material.
  • Don’t misuse the thesaurus or convince yourself that big fancy words will make your essay sound more academic or intelligent.
  • Don’t be afraid to write in the first person, but remember that your voice must fit the material and the audience.
  • Don’t use slang or unnecessary technical jargon. If you must use an obscure term, take the time to define and explain it.
  • Don’t try too hard to be funny. Some humor may work in an essay, but going overboard can make your topic and you look foolish.
  • Don’t try to imitate others. Just write cleanly and correctly in your own voice.
  • Don’t just spout a list of facts or statistics. Take the time to analyze the information you are presenting.
  • Don’t forget to let your personality and ideas about the topic guide the way you write.
  • Don’t brag or put down other people.

Editing

  • Don’t turn in your first draft.
  • Don’t forget to proofread.
  • Don’t rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling. Read through what you have written. Read it out loud and listen to the way your paper sounds.
  • Don’t be afraid of revision. Sometimes it takes a while to find the true focus of your essay. Once you find it, you may need to make major changes to create your best essay.

Formatting

  • Don’t hand-write your essay.
  • Don’t use subheadings before every paragraph.
  • Don’t use a font that is too large or too small
  • Don’t use colored or oddly-sized paper.
  • Don’t turn in an essay that is messy or poorly formatted.