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Identifying the Stated Main Idea Sentence. and the Supporting Details of a Paragraph. The Skill. Every paragraph has a topic. Every paragraph has a main idea.

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Identifying the stated main idea sentence l.jpg

Identifying the Stated Main Idea Sentence

and the

Supporting Details

of a Paragraph


The skill l.jpg
The Skill

Every paragraph has a topic.

Every paragraph has a main idea.

When an author includes a sentence in a paragraph that tells his or her most important point about the topic, that sentence is called the stated main idea sentence.


Main idea l.jpg
Main Idea

The main idea answers the question,

“What is the author’s one most important point

about the topic?”


Characteristics of a main idea sentence l.jpg
Characteristics of a Main Idea Sentence

  • Must always contain the topic (the word, name, or phrase that tells who or what the paragraph is about)

  • Must always make complete sense by itself (even if you couldn’t read the rest of the paragraph)

  • Must be a general sentence that sums up the details in the paragraph


Location of the stated main idea sentence l.jpg
Location of the Stated Main Idea Sentence

Can appear anywhere in a paragraph:

  • Most often it appears at the beginning.

  • The next most likely location is at the end.

  • The third possibility is somewhere else within the paragraph.

    Regardless of where it appears, it will have supporting details that

    explain more about it, give examples of it, or prove it.


How to test the sentence you have identified as the stated main idea l.jpg
How to Test the Sentence You Have Identified as the Stated Main Idea

When you think you have located a stated main idea sentence, see if it meets these criteria:

1. The sentence contains the topic.

2. The sentence tells the author’s most important

point about the topic.

3. The sentence makes complete sense by itself.


Main idea cadence l.jpg
Main Idea Cadence Main Idea

It’s important that you find

The point the author has in mind.

The main idea is its name,

But “topic sentence” is the same.

The main idea is top-shelf;

It makes sense all by itself.

And never once should you doubt it:

Details all tell more about it.

This sentence has the topic, too.

It gives a summary or overview.

Stated main ideas you can find,

So highlight them or underline.


Supporting details additional information to help you understand the main idea l.jpg
Supporting Details = Main IdeaAdditional Information to Help You Understand the Main Idea

  • Details consists of specific information such as examples, explanations, descriptions, proof, and statistics.

  • Who, what, when, where, why, how?

    The answers will be in the details.


The edge pointers from the coach l.jpg
The Edge: Main Idea Pointers from the Coach

  • Only ONE sentence can be the stated main idea in a paragraph.

  • Avoid choosing a sentence just because it interests you or you think it sounds important.

  • Be sure you understand the sentence.

  • The main idea is NEVER a question.

  • Examples are details that support the main idea, so examples cannot be the main idea.

  • Watch for words or phrases authors use to signal their main idea: The point is, It is important, Thus, etc.


The edge continued l.jpg
The Edge Main Idea(continued)

  • Read the entire paragraph before you decide if there is a stated main idea sentence.

  • Longer selections (such as textbook sections, essays, articles, and editorials) can have overall stated main ideas.

  • Locating the main idea is a skill that underlies several important study skills, such as marking a text, outlining, making concept maps, and writing summaries.


The edge pointers about the stated main idea and supporting details l.jpg
The Edge: Pointers Main Idea about the Stated Main Idea and Supporting Details

  • Main idea and details are not the same.

  • The main idea is general. Details are specific.

  • Examples are always details.

  • Underline the main idea, but number the details in a paragraph.

  • Details are often presented in a bulleted, numbered, or lettered list.

  • Details are often introduced by In addition, also, moreover, another, next, then, last, finally, etc.

  • The main idea may give a clue about the number of types of details: “There are four categories of galaxies.”


Main idea and supporting details house l.jpg
Main Idea and Main Idea Supporting Details “House”

Main Idea

Supporting Details


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