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Identifying the Controlling Idea

  The controlling idea contains your opinion about the topic. It shows what direction you are going to take in writing about the topic. It helps the reader understand your purpose for writing the paragraph or essay.

For example

Victoria is a wonderful city to visit because it has an ideal location, beautiful gardens, and interesting things to do.

The writer has a positive feeling about Victoria and shows this by the use of positive adjectives: wonderful, beautiful, interesting. From this topic sentence we know that the paragraph will be about the positive aspects of the topic Victoria.

In order to find your main idea about a topic, review your pre-writing activities and look for the most repeated words and phrases or key ideas. Look for your strongest feeling. What makes the topic important to you?

Here is an example:


Controlling Idea


camping trips

Camping with small children is hard work, but worthwhile.



As the puppy grows it will consume most of your time, much of your sleep, and many of your favourite possessions.

frustration, cautionary