Innovate identification with the dichotomous key example

Whether you’re archiving rare artifacts or teaching kids about the animal kingdom, FigJam’s examples of dichotomous keys can be one of your educational resources to help you fine-tune your identification system.

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Dichotomous key example

Hit the ground running with a free template that streamlines classification.

A dichotomous key made for humans

The yen to understand? Human nature. Categorize information and classify different types of subjects on our dichotomous key worksheet.

Beat the blank page: Defeat analysis paralysis with a template that helps you turn information into IDs.

Understand the evolution: Revisit and refine the frameworks that you create for evaluation on FigJam’s shared canvas.

Condense and collab: With a streamlined template, simplify large amounts of information and share findings with your team.

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The key to collaboration

With free community-built tools, FigJam makes it simple to arrive at an answer as a team. Use the poll widget to source feedback on essential characteristics, or underline an observation with stickers and emotes.

We’ve identified the savviest team (yours!)

Compare, contrast, and classify with ease on our dichotomous key example. Then, head to our Community to identify more collaborative templates.


A dichotomous key is a classification tool that identifies everything from organisms to objects based on observable traits.

If you’re wondering how to make a dichotomous key, begin by taking stock of the objects, different species of animals, or plants that you’re trying to identify. Then, compile a list of their features and qualities. You’ll use these physical characteristics to divide, and then subdivide, the subjects that you’re identifying until you reach your final assessment.

Dichotomous keys tend to resemble a flow chart, with one primary characteristic at the top branching into more specific traits or questions. Worried about nailing down the format? Download FigJam’s free dichotomous key templates and easily customize them for your ID needs.

Students, scientists, and teams of all kinds use dichotomous keys to organize information through identification steps and solve everyday mysteries. With a streamlined format that flows from big picture to fine print, dichotomous keys make it easier to get a handle on unknowns—catalyzing broad connections and closer looks.

To learn how to read a dichotomous key, it may be helpful to first consider why it is called a dichotomous key in the first place. “Dichotomous” can feel like a bit of a mouthful, but it’s also instructive—it translates to “including exactly two choices”—and relates to how the chart unfolds.

So when using a dichotomous key, what do we look at? Start at the top, where you’ll find your primary characteristic—in our case, “Dog.” From there, you’ll encounter two choices—yes or no—which will lead you one step further into your analysis. For example, “Does the dog have curly hair” (yes) will lead to another yes/no question, like “Is the curly hair black or brown?”

Eventually, as you work your way down the dichotomous key, you’ll land on the identity of your dog. (Curly-Coated Retriever, btw.)

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