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Putting the Main Idea Puzzle Together

Chapter 3: Stated Main Ideas

Questions for understanding


What are the traits of a main idea? What is a topic? What is a main idea? How do I find the main idea? What are supporting details?

Whats a topic?

Topic: The general subject of a passage. It answers the question who or what is this about?

OK, so whats a main idea?

Main Idea: The general point the author is trying to make.

How do I know?
How will I know its a main idea? 1. It will be general. 2. It will contain the topic or a version of the topic. 3. It will be supported by the details. 4. It will be one sentence that sums up what the entire paragraph is about.

And what are details?


Details are the sentences that support the main idea. They often answer the questions who, what when, where, why, and how. There are 2 kinds of supporting details: Major and Minor

Whats the difference?


Major details support just the main idea. They start with signal words such as: First, second, third, finally, also, another, last Minor details support the major details. They give more details and are often the more interesting sentences.

Questions to ask yourself


When youre trying to identify the main idea sentence, ask yourself these questions: 1. Is this sentence general? 2. Is it what the entire paragraph is about? 3. Does it contain the topic? 4. Is it supported by the details?

Signal Words
Often an author will use signal words to indicate a main idea sentence. Here are just a few: Several reasons Three ideas Many ways A variety of ways However,

Few ideas

A topic can go in many directions


Any topic can be taken in many different directions. For example, lets consider the topic of tattoos. There are many possible things to say about tattoos, and thus, many possible main ideas.

Tattoos are used for a variety of purposes.


If this is the main idea sentence, what would this paragraph be about? What would you expect to hear about in this paragraph?

What type of supporting evidence can you predict the author might give?

Tattooing is an ancient art that has been practiced in many cultures worldwide.
If this is the main idea sentence, what would this paragraph be about? What would you expect to hear about in this paragraph?

What type of supporting evidence can you predict the author might give?

The prevalence of tattoos has increased greatly in the last decade.


If this is the main idea sentence, what would this paragraph be about? What would you expect to hear about in this paragraph?

What type of supporting evidence can you predict the author might give?

Highlighting Technique
Yellow- topics Use the yellow highlighter to highlight the topic each time you see it. This will help you omit unnecessary sentences. Pink- main idea sentence You will only have 1 pink sentence for each paragraph. Blue- major supporting details For each sentence that is a major detail, highlight it blue.

Can you find the main idea sentence?


Tattoos are most often used for personal and artistic expression. For example, some people memorialize a significant person or event by getting a tattoo. Having an image or the name of a loved one permanently inked on the skin is a way for some to honor that individual. Others choose images that have personal meaning or show affiliation with a particular group. This use of tattoos is most common, but in fact, there are several purposes. For example, tattoos are used for cosmetic purposes so that makeup doesnt have to be applied daily. Eyes or lips can be permanently lined; likewise, lips or eyebrows can be colored in to add definition. Additionally, tattoos are used for identification. The Nazis used numeric tattoos as a way of identifying prisoners. Today, doctors sometimes use tattoos as a way of making sure that a particular treatment is administered in the same location.

Topic= yellow; Main idea=pink; details=blue


Tattoos are most often used for personal and artistic expression. For example, some people memorialize a significant person or event by getting a tattoo. Having an image or the name of a loved one permanently inked on the skin is a way for some to honor that individual. Others choose images that have personal meaning or show affiliation with a particular group. This use of tattoos is most common, but in fact, there are several purposes. For example, tattoos are used for cosmetic purposes so that makeup doesnt have to be applied daily. Eyes or lips can be permanently lined; likewise, lips or eyebrows can be colored in to add definition. Additionally, tattoos are used for identification. The Nazis used numeric tattoos as a way of identifying prisoners. Today, doctors sometimes use tattoos as a way of making sure that a particular treatment is administered in the same location.