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STEP TWO: Whatʹs The Main Point (or Points)?

People write because they have something to say and make pictures because they have something to show. But the main points of a document are not always easy to spot. After addressing the Five Wʹs, examine the document this way:

Texts

1. Look at the beginning. The main point may be plainly stated, or the author may pose a question he or she intends to answer.

2. Look at the end. There may be a short conclusion where the author sums everything up.

3. Look at the middle. Paragraphs may open with a topic sentence or end with a conclusion reached. Chapters may have entire paragraphs that do this.

  • 4.

    Look for words that argue: ʺshould,ʺ ʺmust,ʺ ʺought,ʺ ʺnecessarily,ʺ ʺsurely.ʺ

  • 5.

    Look for words that express causation or conclusion: ʺbecause,ʺ ʺand so,ʺ

ʺconsequently,ʺ ʺtherefore,ʺ ʺin short,ʺ ʺin sum,ʺ ʺthus,ʺ ʺhence,ʺ ʺas a result,ʺ ʺin that case,ʺ ʺfor that reason,ʺ ʺthen,ʺ ʺaccordingly.ʺ

6. Look for words that express priorities: ʺessential,ʺ ʺimportant,ʺ ʺ ʺfundamental,ʺ ʺbasic.ʺ

crucial,ʺ

Pictures

  • 1.

    Whatʹs the largest object?

  • 2.

    What did the creator put dead center in the middle?

  • 3.

    Whatʹs pushed off to the edges or into the background?

  • 4.

    Pay attention to the way your eye wanders from one object to the next. Does

this sequence make a point or tell a story?

5, Pay attention to your feelings as your eye wanders around. What objects in the pictures cause the most powerful reaction in you?

When youʹre done, complete these statements:

1. ʺThe main thing the author or artist is trying to say or show is that ...

ʺ

2. ʺTwo less important points are that ...

ʺ

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