1) Our trip to New York consisted of trips to museums and parks, along with going to fabulous
shows, shopping and eating at some wonderful restaurants. 2) When my daughter graduated
from college, my brother and sister-in-law, invited us to the island of Manhattan to celebrate.
From the moment we arrived, we were going nonstop. 3) We went to Times Square, Central
Park, saw three plays: “Chicago,” “Guys and Dolls,” and my favorite “In the Heights.” 4) We
ate at the best restaurants ever, including an excellent outdoor restaurant in Little Italy. We
took a solemn visit to the area where the Twin Towers once stood. 5) Of course I had to visit
the courthouse where my favorite t.v. show “Law and Order” takes place. 6) We shopped in
SoHo, went to the Metropolitan Museum, the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and
took a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty. 7) We even got to see President Obama on our last
night in New York.
Which sentence in this paragraph best summarizes our trip?
• Sentence #1
• In college you will have reading that requires
you to identify and understand key ideas that
that author is making.
• You will do this without being concerned
about all the details.
• You will do this whether you are reading a
paragraph, essay, article or a textbook chapter.
• In order to identify the main idea, you will first
need to identify the topic of the selection.
• In looking for the topic, you will ask
yourself, “Who or what is this about?”
• Let’s think back to the paragraph I just read.
What was it about?
• New York. Trip to New York.
• The topic…
– Can be a single word, few words, phrase
– Is not a sentence
– Often repeated several times within a paragraph
– May be seen in the title or heading
– May appear in bold face or italic type
• In order to be a successful student, it is important
that the student is organized. Being organized
includes using a planner and/or a calendar.
Next, a successful student needs to attend all
classes and arrive at least 5 minutes early.
Thirdly, a successful student must complete all
homework assignments. Finally, a successful
student must participate in class.
• What is the topic of this paragraph?
• Successful students
• Experts say that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce
stress, relax muscles, and promote a sense of well-being.
Most people find that they have more energy when they
exercise regularly. Make exercise a daily habit and top
priority in your life.
The topic of this sentence is
a. reducing stress
c. prioritizing your life
The Main Idea
• Okay, now that we know what a topic is, let’s
get back to the main idea:
– Must be a complete sentence
– May be stated directly in the text.
– May not be stated directly but implied.
– It may be in the first sentence, the middle of the
paragraph, or the last sentence.
• The main idea of a paragraph may be referred
– The gist (means “the essential point”)
– Key point
– Central idea
– Main point
• A good way to think of the topic of a
paragraph is to think of it as an umbrella that
covers everything in the paragraph.
• Did anyone watch a good movie this past
weekend? Who was in it? What was the
plot? What was the genre (type of movie)?
SciFi, Romantic Comedy, Adventure?
• Any of you ladies go on a date this weekend?
Did you call your best friend afterwards to tell
her about it? Did you go out to eat? Watch a
movie? Go dancing?
• As you read through a passage, you must
think as you read.
• You must actively engage your mind, and, as
you read, keep asking yourself, “What’s the
• Take a minute to think of something that you
would like to write about. Just write a word or
– You have just selected a topic
• Now write a sentence that tells the most
important thing you want to say about your
topic. You have just created a main idea
• Now write down three other things that
explain or tell more about your main idea
– You have just written three details.
• Now write your main idea sentence and the
sentences that give the details about it.