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Reading (96)
0001 Meaning of Words and Phrases
0002 Main Idea and Supporting Details
Identifying Explicit and Implicit Main Ideas
Supporting the Main Idea of a Passage
0003 Purpose, Point of View, and Intended Meaning
0004 Analyze the Relationship Among Ideas
0005 Critical Reasoning Skills
0006 Applying Study Skills
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0002 Understand the Main Idea and Supporting Details in Written Material

Recognizing Ideas That Support, Illustrate, or Elaborate the Main Idea of a Passage

The topic sentence of the first paragraph is shown in red.

The most important part of a paragraph is its topic sentence in which the author states the main idea of the paragraph. If read in isolation, the topic sentence would rarely be understood by the reader. The main idea needs further explanation and amplification and this support is the purpose of other sentences in the paragraph. The topic sentence states the main idea; other sentences offer more information, rephrasing, clarifications, and examples to help the reader understand the main idea. When a reader completes a paragraph, the topic sentence should express its full meaning without additional explanation.

The topic sentence of a paragraph is usually its first or last sentence. Sometimes, it may be differently located, but in every case the topic sentence of a well-written paragraph will be recognized as the basic idea of it. All other sentences will further explain or clarify some portion of the topic sentence.