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Chapter 3: Determining the Topic. Definition of Topic. The “something” an author chooses to write about is called the topic . The topic is simply who or what the author is writing about. The topic is always a word , a phrase , or a name .

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definition of topic
Definition of Topic
  • The “something” an author chooses to write about is called the topic.
  • The topic is simply who or what the author is writing about.
  • The topic is always a word, a phrase, or a name.
  • It is never written as a sentence.

Chapter 3: Determining the Topic

to determine the topic
To Determine the Topic
  • Ask yourself, “Who or what is the paragraph about?”
  • Use the four clues to help you.
  • Be precise.

Accurately determining the topic is the

key to the main idea of a paragraph.

Chapter 3: Determining the Topic

other information about the topic
Other Information about the Topic
  • The topic is called the subject or the subject matter.
  • Determining the topic is the important first step in comprehending any paragraph that you read.
  • Finding the topic is not a new skill for you:

When you walk up to a group of friends who are talking, you listen a minute to figure who or what they’re talking about. In other words, you determine the topic of the conversation.

  • FACT: You are already good at determining the topic.

Chapter 3: Determining the Topic

four clues to the topic
Four Clues to the Topic

1. Look for a heading or title.

2. Look for words in special print, such as bold, italics, or color—or some combination, such as bold italics.

3. Look for repeated words in a paragraph.

4. Look for something mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph and then referred to throughout the paragraph by pronouns or by other words.

Chapter 3: Determining the Topic

cadence for remembering the clues to the topic
Cadence for Remembering the Clues to the Topic

First look for this easy clue:

A title or heading to help you.

Second, it’s no accident:

Topic appear in special print.

A third clue that’s really neat:

Look for words thatrepeat.

One last clue, don’t you doubt:

Anything discussed throughout.

Chapter 3: Determining the Topic

create a mnemonic device to remember the clues
Create a Mnemonic Device to Remember the Clues

Besides the “cadence,” you can create a sentence to help you remember the 4 clues:

“The head printer repeatedly mentioned the beginning of the paragraph.”

  • head = using heading or title.
  • printer = look for words in special print.
  • repeatedly = look for repeated words
  • mentioned = look for something mentioned at the beginning

and then referred to by other words.

Chapter 3: Determining the Topic

the edge pointers about determining the topic
The Edge: Pointers about Determining the Topic
  • Be sure you know what the words in the topic mean.
  • Be sure that you find the entire topic: it may have more than one part.
  • Even though the heading or title is often the topic, do not assume that the heading always indicates the exact topic.
  • Heading can sometimes be misleading.
  • Headings and special print are especially helpful in determining the overall topic of longer passages.
  • Determining the topic is a skill that underlies the main idea, which in turn, underlies certain other skills (such as summarizing and outlining).

Chapter 3: Determining the Topic