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Identify Main Controlling Idea


The main 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 to understand your purpose for writing the paragraph.



Victoria is a wonderful city to visit because of its 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.

Here are two examples of the same topic with different controlling ideas.

Topic Controlling Idea Feeling/Attitude
I took my children on a camping trip. My camping trip with my children was a lot of fun. Fun
Camping with small children is hard work. Hard work
The bus trip

Last summer I took an interesting and enjoyable twenty-six-hour bus ride from Victoria to Wyoming.

Interesting, enjoyable


I was exhausted and irritable after traveling twenty-six hours by bus last summer.

Exhausting, irritable



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?
Subject Feeling/Attitude
The day I took my driver's test Frightening, nervous
My trip to Banff Happy, enjoyable, magic
Gardening Healthy, relaxing
Cancer Frightening, angry
I took my children on a camping trip. Hard work
The bus trip Exhausting, irritable