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What is the text mostly about?

Central Idea

How do I find the Central Idea?

Check for hints in the title, any headings, and any graphic features.

Check the introduction and conclusion.

Review supporting details in the paragraphs.

Then ask yourself, what idea is the writer trying to explain?

Note if you are analyzing the central idea of the whole text or one section of it.

What are details?

Authors develop central ideas by using support, such as facts, definitions, concrete details, and quotations. Readers can analyze a text’s central ideas by looking at the support an author includes and how that support works together to develop one or more important ideas.

The reader first identifies the topic and then the central idea of this paragraph: Hatshepsut gradually took on more and more power until she in effect ruled Egypt. The reader decides that the last two sentences are an explicit statement of the central idea. The sentences that precede it contain facts that show the order in which Hatshepsut’s power increased. That is how the author connects the supporting details to one another and to the central ideas of the text.

Let’s look at how one reader identifies the central idea in the following paragraph and analyzes its development:

Turn and Talk: How does the reader note the central idea and its development?

What is the Central Idea?

A central idea of a text is a main point that an author makes about a topic. A central idea answers the question What is it all about?

Central ideas can be directly stated, or explicit, in the text. In other cases, the central idea may be implicit, which means it is suggested but not directly stated.