Classifying Report – How to Organize

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 science

  • 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

Likewise, you would group information in a classification report by logical groups aimed at communicating your message.  For example, suppose I am going to write a report on the different activities that a visitor can engage in when he/she is in town.  I would probably group them like this:

Activities of historical significance or at historical landmarks

Musical Activities or Events

Theater Activities or Events

Outdoor Activities or Venues

Restaurants and Bars

Depending on whether I wanted to persuade visitors to attend these events or simply to inform them, I would adjust my tone and language.  I would also probably make several versions.  One would target a young, single audience; one would target families; one  would target businesses that may want to come to town for a convention.  Audience analysis is crucial because it affects the tone and language, but it also affects the categories you come up with.  For example, if my audience is families, I would probably change the last group to just Restaurants or Family Friendly Restaurants.