Controlling Idea in Essays Definition and Examples

The main ideaor the controlling idea or the central ideais still expressed in the sentence, A well-balanced diet is a key to good health. A topic sentence, usually the first sentence in a paragraph, introduces the main idea of that paragraph and sets its tone.

what is a controlling idea in writing

She then arranges her main points and supporting details in outline form using short phrases in parallel grammatical structure. This lesson about paragraphs, topics, and controlling ideas describes a model paragraph or a “perfect” paragraph. When you read, however, you may find paragraphs that do not have a main idea sentence in it. Yet, if you read the paragraph carefully, you will see that it has a clear topic and that the writer has a clear controlling idea. When a good paragraph does not have that sentence written in it, we say that the main idea is implied.

Main Idea versus Controlling Idea

Introduction – gives a background and states the thesis. The topic sentence of an introductory paragraph is called the thesis and belongs at the end of the first paragraph. Your journal is a private place where you can develop ideas and ability!

what is a controlling idea in writing

You will need it when you begin to outline your assignment as a way to organize it. As you continue to develop the arrangement, you can limit your working thesis statement if it is too broad or expand it if it proves too narrow for what you want to say. For a longer piece of writing, the main idea should be broader than the main idea for a shorter piece of writing. Be sure to frame a main idea that is appropriate for the length of the assignment. Ask yourself, “How many pages will it take for me to explain and explore this main idea in detail?

Writing at Work

Or you may need to first describe a 3-D movie projector or a television studio to help readers visualize the setting and scene. You may want to group your support effectively to convince readers that your point of view on an issue is well reasoned and worthy of belief. When writing a draft of an essay, allow a friend or colleague to read the opening line of your first paragraph. Ask your reader to predict what your paper will be about. If he or she is unable to guess your topic accurately, you should consider revising your topic sentence so that it clearly defines your purpose in writing. The sentence in a paragraph that controls the point of the paragraph.

Let’s look at some examples of a topic and possible controlling ideas. Thetopic sentenceof a paragraph tells the reader what the paragraph will prove. Whether you are writing a paragraph, an essay, another type of assignment for school such as a reaction paper, or simply a letter, here are key elements to remember. Choose the most effective topic sentence from the following sentence pairs. To write a controlling idea, you need to focus your research on a single topic and a specific question about that topic. This question is called a research question.

What are the five features of a good topic sentence?

Don’t be alarmed when fiction controlling idea/themes reveal themselves as cliché. Things become cliché when they are familiar. And that’s important that they are familiar.

For example, if you want to write about your favorite movie, think about all the reasons that you like it. what an outline looks like Be sure not to include too many things or else you will end up with an essay instead of a simple sentence.

2 Topic Sentences

The information compiled under each roman numeral will become a paragraph in your final paper. In the previous example, the outline follows the standard five-paragraph essay arrangement, but longer essays will require more paragraphs and thus more roman numerals. If you think that a paragraph might become too long or stringy, add an additional paragraph to your outline, renumbering the main points appropriately.

  • I find it helpful to think of rock music when considering theme.
  • Use a transitional device to effortlessly segue from the idea discussed in the previous paragraph.
  • Story analysis is what we do, all day, every day…check out or range of services for writers & filmmakershere.
  • If the purpose of the essay is actually to evaluate education in only one particular state, or to discuss math or English education specifically, then the topic sentence is misleading.
  • Let’s start with the kinds of answers that are NOT appropriate.

Avoid using implied topic sentences in an informational document. Readers often lose patience if they are unable to quickly grasp what the writer is trying to say. The clearest and most efficient way to communicate in an informational document is to position the topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph. Paragraphs that begin with the topic sentence move from the general to the specific. They open with a general statement about a subject and then discuss specific examples . Most academic essays contain the topic sentence at the beginning of the first paragraph.

What should you avoid when writing a topic sentence?

Thematic patterning can also occur throughout the oeuvre of a particular author. Stephen King’s books often feature regular everyday American’s forced to face fantastic and deadly threats. The writings of war veteran’s Kurt Vonnegut and Earnest Hemingway often return to the topic of war. A call back happens when a phrase used early on in a story is repeated again near the story’s end. _____________________________________________. In fact, he usually shows up five minutes early everywhere he goes. Because he’s so considerate, he hates to keep people waiting.

what is a controlling idea in writing

I remember all the advertisements for Guess and Calvin Klein Jeans that were in each month’s Sassy magazine. I do not think Sassy magazine exists anymore, but it was one of the most popular magazines for young women in the 1990s. You will often use a persuasive what is a controlling idea in writing topic sentence when writing for school, such as in literary essays. It is still only suggesting a topic, yet again. You will often be asked to state the controlling idea of an essay you have read, and to state the controlling idea of your own essays.

Developing Paragraphs That Use Topic Sentences, Supporting Ideas, and Transitions Effectively

The topic is “To be an effective CEO” and the controlling idea is “certain characteristics.” Regardless of the type of writing, the first attempt must be considered a rough draft. Generate ideas by reviewing your pre-writing efforts if you use any of those strategies. Athesistells the reader what the paper will prove. The point of a paragraph is called atopic sentence. After we’ve done our first draft, it’s helpful to leave it for a while before looking at it again.

  • Although in business this style might be acceptable, in college your instructor might have different requirements.
  • For an essay, the controlling idea would be the overall argument or point that you’re trying to make.
  • First, let’s clarify what exactly a controlling idea is – and isn’t.
  • We’ll get the roadmap to create our own Tipping Points.
  • The foundation of a good paragraph is the topic sentence, which expresses the main idea of the paragraph.

Death trumps love, so death is the cause of change. No, we remember whether or not our partner helped us plant a vegetable garden to cut down on our monthly expenses. Out of that desperate necessity, she brought joy and communion. Because when things go south, and they do every once in a while, few remember that perfect moment in Bali when the moon perfectly illuminated the swell of our beloved’s hip. And it must be as specific as possible about the cause of the change in the value charge. Thematic patterning is inevitably going to emerge as your write.


When you ask a language student what a paragraph is, they often say that a paragraph is a group of 3 sentences. In fact, it does not matter how many sentences you put together. To have a well built paragraph, you must have one or more sentences that create a coherent unit; the sentence or sentences must say something about a single topic. Revise as needed, moving or adding sentences or paragraphs, and modifying wording. The last step is editing where you make sure the writing is grammatical.

  • Choose the best one and make sure that it includes the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Each of the following sentences in the paragraph supports the topic sentence by providing further information about a specific reality television show.
  • The most common reasons for writing are to persuade, to inform, and to entertain.

Contains many vivid details and extra information that will need to be cut, added to, or rearranged. Primary sources are authoritative, first-hand accounts of your research topic.

See Paragraphs in Related Pages on the right sidebar for more information. The last sentence of this paragraph is the topic sentence. It draws on specific examples and then makes a general statement that draws a conclusion from these examples (animals’ senses are better than humans’). In this case, the supporting sentences are placed before the topic sentence and the concluding sentence is the same as the topic sentence. Although the main idea—marijuana—is the same in all three topic sentences, the controlling idea differs depending on the writer’s viewpoint. Learn how to write the main idea of an essay, the thesis statement, and the topic sentence.

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