Major and Minor Supporting Details

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify major supporting details in a reading.
  • Identify minor supporting details in a reading.

LESSON
When you read an articleA non-fiction, often informative writing that forms a part of a publication, such as a magazine or newspaper. or any other type of readingA piece of writing to be read. A reading can either be a full work (i.e., a book) or partial (i.e., a passage)., you will notice that in addition to having a thesis statementA brief statement that identifies a writer's thoughts, opinions, or conclusions about a topic. Thesis statements bring unity to a piece of writing, giving it a focus and a purpose. You can use three questions to help form a thesis statement: What is my topic? What am I trying to say about that topic? Why is this important to me or my reader?, the document will also have points that support that thesisAn overall argument, idea, or belief that a writer uses as the basis for a work.. The thesis provides the authorA person who wrote a text.'s topicThe subject of a reading. and purposeThe reason the writer is writing about a topic. It is what the writer wants the reader to know, feel, or do after reading the work. for writing. The supporting detailsStatements within a reading that tie directly to major details that support the main idea. These can be provided in examples, statistics, anecdotes, definitions, descriptions, or comparisons within the work. help the author make that topic and purpose clear to the reader.

The supporting details of a reading can be divided into major supporting detailsStatements within a reading that tie directly to the work's main idea. These can be provided in examples, statistics, anecdotes, definitions, descriptions, or comparisons within the work. and minor supporting detailsSmaller statements within a reading that tie directly to major details., and they are found in the supporting paragraphsA selection of a writing that is made up of sentences formed around one main point. Paragraphs are set apart by a new line and sometimes indentation., or body paragraphsThe part of an essay that comes after the introduction and before the conclusion. Body paragraphs lay out the main ideas of an argument and provide the support for the thesis. All body paragraphs should include these elements: a topic sentence, major and minor details, and a concluding statement. Each body paragraph should stand on its own but also fit into the context of the entire essay, as well as support the thesis and work with the other supporting paragraphs. , of an article or essayA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. . Distinguishing between major and minor supporting details will help you break down the paragraphs in a reading, making it easier to understand. In this lesson, you will learn how to identify both major and minor supporting details in a reading.

When looking at a full reading such as an article or essay, the major and minor details relate to the thesis statement like this:

When reading a longer essay, the thesis is included in an introductory paragraphThe first paragraph of an essay. It must engage the reader, set the tone, provide background information, and present the thesis. and the major supporting details become topic sentences for distinct supporting paragraphs.

However, if the essay is only one paragraph long, the thesis becomes a topic sentence. When looking at an individual paragraph, the major and minor details relate to the topic sentence like this:

Let's look at an example.

Sample essay thesis: Students should consider many variables when choosing classes.

Major supporting details:

  1. Time of day
  2. Whether it is required or not
  3. How much reading/writing may be involved

Minor supporting details:

  1. Time of day: You can choose classes that meet early in the morning, mid-morning, early afternoon, mid-afternoon, early evening, or evening.
  2. Whether it is required or not: You may not want to take classes that do not qualify as credit toward your degree.
  3. How much reading/writing may be involved: You may not want to take several classes at the same time that will involve a lot of reading, such as novels, or that require writing multiple papers.
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