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Topic sentence facts for kids

In expository writing, a topic sentence is a sentence that summarizes the main idea of a paragraph. It is usually the first sentence in a paragraph.

Also known as a focus sentence, it encapsulates or organizes an entire paragraph. Although topic sentences may appear anywhere in a paragraph, in academic essays they often appear at the beginning. The topic sentence acts as a kind of summary , and offers the reader an insightful view of the writer’s main ideas for the following paragraph. More than just being a mere summary, however, a topic sentence often provides a claim or an insight directly or indirectly related to the thesis . It adds cohesion to a paper and helps organize ideas both within the paragraph and the whole body of work at large. As the topic sentence encapsulates the idea of the paragraph, serving as a sub-thesis, it remains general enough to cover the support given in the body paragraph while being more direct than the thesis of the paper.

Complex sentences

Bridge sentences.

A complex sentence is one that has a main clause which could stand alone and a dependent clause which cannot by itself be a sentence. Using a complex sentence is a way to refer to the content of the paragraph above (dependent clause) and then bring in the content of the new paragraph (the independent clause). Here is a typical example:

While the ant generally works for the benefit of the community, she also carries out duties for her own needs.

The beginning, dependent, clause probably refers to the content of a preceding paragraph that presented the ant as a community-focused worker. As suggested by the main clause, which is the second within the sentence, the new paragraph will address how the ant works to benefit herself as well.

Questions at the beginning of new paragraphs can make topic sentences which both remind the reader of what was in the previous paragraph and signal the introduction of something new. Consider this example of a question for a topic sentence:

But will the current budget cuts be enough to balance the school district’s budget?

This question refers to the content of the previous paragraph, but it introduces the content for the new one – how the budget cuts may not in fact be enough to balance the budget.

A "bridge sentence" reminds the reader of what went before and does not signal what is to come. It merely hints that something new is about to be introduced.

Pivot topic sentences will come somewhere in the middle of a paragraph, and usually announce that the content will be changing in a different direction. These are often used when there are two differing opinions about something or when two "experts" are being quoted or referred to that may have a different opinion or approach to something. A paragraph may begin something like this:

Kubler and Kessler have identified 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And they have provided a detailed explanation of the symptoms and behaviors of each of these stages, so that those experiencing grief may identify which stage they are in at any given time and develop strategies with the help of their therapists, to move through those stages more effectively. Since their original work, however, a number of other psychologists have developed different models of the grieving process that call into question some of Kubler and Kessler’s contentions… .

The first part of this paragraph addresses Kubler and Kessler; the second part will obviously address another opinion. The topic sentence is underlined to show the pivot point in the paragraph. Pivot topic sentences will always have some clue word, such as "yet," "sometimes," or "however."

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What Is a Topic Sentence?

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

A topic sentence is a  sentence , sometimes at the beginning of a paragraph , that states or suggests the main idea (or topic ) of a paragraph.

Not all paragraphs begin with topic sentences. In some, the topic sentence appears in the middle or at the end. In others, the topic sentence is implied or absent altogether.

Examples and Observations

  • " Salva and the other boys made cows out of clay. The more cows you made, the richer you were. But they had to be fine, healthy animals. It took time to make a lump of clay look like a good cow. The boys would challenge each other to see who could make the most and best cows." (Linda Sue Park, A Long Walk to Water . Clarion, 2010)
  • " Momma bought two bolts of cloth each year for winter and summer clothes. She made my school dresses, underslips, bloomers, handkerchiefs, Bailey's shirts, shorts, her aprons, house dresses and waists from the rolls shipped to Stamps by Sears and Roebuck. . . ." (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings . Random House, 1969)
  • " You discover what it is like to be hungry. With bread and margarine in your belly, you go out and look into the shop windows. Everywhere there is food insulting you in huge, wasteful piles; whole dead pigs, baskets of hot loaves, great yellow blocks of butter, strings of sausages, mountains of potatoes, vast Gruyère cheeses like grindstones. A snivelling self-pity comes over you at the sight of so much food. You plan to grab a loaf and run, swallowing it before they catch you; and you refrain, from pure funk." (George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London . Victor Gollancz, 1933)
  • " The flavor that salt imparts to food is just one of the attributes that manufacturers rely on. For them, salt is nothing less than a miracle worker in processed foods. It makes sugar taste sweeter. It adds crunch to crackers and frozen waffles. It delays spoilage so that the products can sit longer on the shelf. And, just as importantly, it masks the otherwise bitter or dull taste that hounds so many processed foods before salt is added." (Michael Moss, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us . Random House, 2013)
  • " The very idea of retirement is a relatively new invention. For most of human history, people worked until they died or were too infirm to lift a finger (at which point they died pretty fast anyway). It was the German statesman Otto von Bismarck who first floated the concept, in 1883, when he proposed that his unemployed countrymen over the age of 65 be given a pension. This move was designed to fend off Marxist agitation—and to do so on the cheap, since few Germans survived to that ripe old age." (Jessica Bruder, "The End of Retirement." Harper's , August 2014)
  • " Grandma's room I regarded as a dark den of primitive rites and practices. On Friday evenings whoever was home gathered at her door while she lit her Sabbath candles. . . ."  (E.L. Doctorow, World's Fair . Random House, 1985)
  • " Genealogy is an ancient human preoccupation. The God of Hebrew Scripture promised Abraham descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. The apostles Matthew and Luke claim that Abraham's lineage went on to include King David and eventually Jesus, though the specifics of their accounts are contradictory. Muslims trace Mohammed's line back through Abraham, to Adam and Eve." (Maud Newton, "America's Ancestry Craze." Harper's , June 2014)
  • " O nce, in a restaurant in Italy with my family, I occasioned enormous merriment, as a nineteenth-century humorist would have put it, by confusing two Italian words. I thought I had, very suavely, ordered for dessert fragoline —those lovely little wild strawberries. Instead, I seem to have asked for fagiolini —green beans. The waiter ceremoniously brought me a plate of green beans with my coffee, along with the flan and the gelato for the kids. The significant insight the mistake provided—arriving mere microseconds after the laughter of those kids, who for some reason still bring up the occasion, often—was about the arbitrary nature of language: the single 'r' rolled right makes one a master of the trattoria, an 'r' unrolled the family fool. . . ." (Adam Gopnik, "Word Magic." The New Yorker , May 26, 2014)
  • " In seventeenth-century Europe, the transformation of man into soldier took on a new form, more concerted and disciplined, and far less pleasant, than wine. New recruits and even seasoned veterans were endlessly drilled, hour after hour, until each man began to feel himself part of a single, giant fighting machine. . . ." (Barbara Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War . Henry Holt and Company, 1997)
  • " What is the appeal of train travel? Ask almost any foamer, and he or she will invariably answer, 'The romance of it!' But just what this means, they cannot really say. It's tempting to think that we are simply equating romance with pleasure, with the superior comfort of a train, especially seated up high in the observation cars. . . ." (Kevin Baker, "21st Century Limited: The Lost Glory of America's Railroads." Harper's , July 2014)
  • " Because science fiction spans the spectrum from the plausible to the fanciful, its relationship with science has been both nurturing and contentious. For every author who meticulously examines the latest developments in physics or computing, there are other authors who invent 'impossible' technology to serve as a plot device (like Le Guin’s faster-than-light communicator, the ansible) or to enable social commentary, the way H. G. Wells uses his time machine to take the reader to the far future to witness the calamitous destiny of the human race." (Eileen Gunn, "Brave New Words." Smithsonian , May 2014)
  • " I passed all the other courses that I took at my university, but I could never pass botany. . . ." (James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times . Harper & Row, 1933)
  • " What is there about this wonderful woman? From next door, she comes striding, down the lawn, beneath the clothesline, laden with cookies she has just baked, or with baby togs she no longer needs, and one's heart goes out. Pops out. The clothesline, the rusted swing set, the limbs of the dying elm, the lilacs past bloom are lit up like rods of neon by her casual washday energy and cheer, a cheer one has done nothing to infuse." (John Updike, "One's Neighbor's Wife." Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism . Knopf, 1983)
  • " Television. Why do I watch it? The parade of politicians every evening: I have only to see the heavy, blank faces so familiar since childhood to feel gloom and nausea. . . ." (J.M. Coetzee, Age of Iron . Random House, 1990)
  • " Anyone who has made the coast-to-coast journey across America, whether by train or by car, has probably passed through Garden City, but it is reasonable to assume that few travelers remember the event. It seems just another fair-sized town in the middle--almost the exact middle--of the continental United States. . . ." (Truman Capote, In Cold Blood . Random House, 1966)
  • " Rodeo, like baseball, is an American sport and has been around almost as long. . . ." (Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces . Viking Penguin, 1985)
  • " What a piece of work is a book! I am not talking about writing or printing. I am talking about the codex we may leaf through, that may be put away on a shelf for whole centuries and will remain there, unchanged and handy. . . ." (William Golding, A Moving Target . Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982)

Characteristics of an Effective Topic Sentence

  • "A good topic sentence is concise and emphatic . It is no longer than the idea requires, and it stresses the important word or phrase. Here, for instance, is the topic sentence which opens a paragraph about the collapse of the stock market in 1929: "The Bull Market was dead."(Frederick Lewis Allen) Notice several things. (1) Allen's sentence is brief . Not all topics can be explained in six words, but whether they take six or sixty, they should be phrased in no more words than are absolutely necessary. (2) The sentence is clear and strong: you understand exactly what Allen means. (3) It places the keyword—'dead'—at the end, where it gets heavy stress and leads naturally into what will follow. . . . (4) The sentence stands first in the paragraph. This is where topic sentences generally belong: at or near the beginning." (Thomas S. Kane, The New Oxford Guide to Writing . Oxford Univ. Press, 1988)

Positioning a Topic Sentence

"If you want readers to see your point immediately, open with the topic sentence . This strategy can be particularly useful in letters of application or in argumentative writing. . . . "When specific details lead up to a generalization, putting the topic sentence at the end of the paragraph makes sense. . . . "Occasionally a paragraph's main idea is so obvious that it does not need to be stated explicitly in a topic sentence." (Andrea Lunsford, The St. Martin's Handbook . Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008)

Guidelines for Composing Topic Sentences

"The topic sentence is the most important sentence in your paragraph. Carefully worded and restricted, it helps you generate and control your information. An effective topic sentence also helps readers grasp your main idea quickly. As you draft your paragraphs, pay close attention to the following three guidelines:

  • Make sure you provide a topic sentence. . . .
  • Put your topic sentence first.
  • Be sure your topic sentence is focused. If restricted, a topic sentence discusses only one central idea. A broad or unrestricted topic sentence leads to a shaky, incomplete paragraph for two reasons:
  • The paragraph will not contain enough information to support the topic sentence .
  • A broad topic sentence will not summarize or forecast specific information in the paragraph."

(Philip C. Kolin, Successful Writing at Work , 9th ed. Wadsworth, 2010)

Testing for Topic Sentences

"When testing your article for topic sentences , you should be able to look at each paragraph and say what the topic sentence is. Having said it, look at all the other sentences in the paragraph and test them to make sure they support it. . . .

"If you find that you have come up with the same topic sentence more than once, you have two paragraphs doing the same work. Cut one of them out.

"If you find a paragraph that has several sentences that don't support the topic sentence, see if all the outlaw sentences support some other topic sentence and turn the one paragraph into two." (Gary Provost, "How to Test Your Articles for the 8 Essentials of Nonfiction." Handbook of Magazine Article Writing , ed. by Jean M. Fredette. Writer's Digest Books, 1988)

Frequency of Topic Sentences

"Teachers and textbook writers should exercise caution in making statements about the frequency with which contemporary professional writers use simple or even explicit topic sentences in expository paragraphs. It is abundantly clear that students should not be told that professional writers usually begin their paragraphs with topic sentences."  (Richard Braddock, "The Frequency and Placement of Topic Sentences in Expository Prose." Research in the Teaching of English . Winter 1974)

  • How to Teach Topic Sentences Using Models
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • Practice in Supporting a Topic Sentence with Specific Details
  • Paragraph Writing
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  • Definition and Examples of Body Paragraphs in Composition
  • Development in Composition: Building an Essay
  • Best Practices for the Most Effective Use of Paragraphs
  • How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph
  • Understanding Organization in Composition and Speech
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • Supporting Detail in Composition and Speech
  • Writers on Writing: The Art of Paragraphing
  • How To Write an Essay
  • Definition and Examples of Paragraphing in Essays
  • How to Help Your 4th Grader Write a Biography

FREE EDITABLE PARAGRAPH RUBRIC? YES, PLEASE!

define topic sentence kid friendly

How to Teach Paragraph Writing – Topic Sentences in Paragraph Writing

How to Write a Paragraph Topic Sentences

I’ve always loved writing, so it makes sense that I also love to teach writing.

Teaching writing though is not always easy. What seems so intuitive to us, does not always seem natural to our students.

So, when I teach paragraph writing, I like to teach paragraph writing as if it were a recipe…First, you add this kind of sentence, then you do that… While at first glance, we may think true writing is not based on a recipe, but I think it provides an awesome start.

Think about a child learning to read… we start with letters and sounds, not novels, right? How about learning to play an instrument, we start with single notes and not symphonies.

In the same way, I like to teach writing by starting at a very basic level, with the idea that as students master the paragraph’s components, they are eventually able to use those as a springboard to beautifully written, creatively thought-out pieces.

When they have a solid foundation for writing, they can augment the recipe like a master chef might change a recipe in the kitchen.

Paragraph Bulletin Board with Posters

So, what exactly do I do in my classroom to teach paragraph writing? I decided to write a series of four blog posts, to explain it in more detail. 

1. introduce the parts of a paragraph: color code and outline.

Paragraph Color Coding in green, yellow, and pink

Once I introduce each part of the paragraph, I have students color-code a great deal, using paragraphs I’ve created or ones that previous students have crafted successfully. The example above shows a typical half-sheet paragraph, ready for color coding and outlining.

Color Coding for Paragraphs - Sharks Paragraph

I like to place my copy on the document projector, while my students each have their own half-sheet. We go through the whole paragraph as a class, discussing each sentence and then color-coding it together.

The colors we use are: Topic Sentences and Conclusion Sentences are highlighted in green, Supporting Ideas are yellow and Details are pink.

Color Coding Paragraphs Poster

To highlight sentences, I let students use markers, colored pencils, or crayons so they can grab something quickly. Really, though, I prefer markers as they work the best to highlight papers. The one disadvantage to using markers is that they do tend to bleed through to the back of the paper where we do a reverse outline of the paragraph.

Paragraph Color Coding and Outlining - How to Write and Organize a Paragraph

I really love the introductory color coding. It not only reinforces the concept of a paragraph and gives them a basic “recipe” for it, but these paragraphs serve as good writing models for students to follow.

Once we’ve finished color coding a paragraph, we flip our paper over and make a t-chart (words, not sentences) on the back in pencil. This reverse outlining reinforces the idea that every paragraph should have a certain organization and this is how the author organized his/her paragraph.

Here’s one of the T-Chart templates we use so you get a better idea of how students can create their own. The lightbulbs are for each of the supporting ideas (reasons that add proof to the topic sentence), and the numbers on the right are the details that provide examples and explanations that support each supporting idea.

How to Write a Paragraph - Outline Planner

Of course, you can make your own paragraphs and materials for this but I do have a print and go resource to target these skills.

2. Introduce Different Types of Topic Sentences

When I was in school, I know we never were taught that there were different types of topic sentences, that each could be identified and named, so this was a really new idea to me but one I have since fallen in love with. I purposefully teach students five different ways to create a topic sentence, and we spend a few days working on each type.

It’s my feeling that if students in grades 3 – 6 (and even higher) can master a basic set of five topic sentences and use them with ease, this puts them in good stead as growing writers. We go over examples together, students write a sentence on their whiteboards as I give them a topic, and we discuss how there are lots of “right” answers when it comes to writing, but also some choices that are better than others.

Briefly, here are each of the five topic sentences I introduce:

1. list statements:.

A List Statement tells the reader exactly what the paragraph will be about by listing the three supporting ideas. For example: My favorite sports include soccer, football, and basketball.

2. Number Words:

Number Words do not tell the readers each of the supporting ideas but use number words (many, few, a number of, four…) to present the general topic. For example: There are several things you can do to become a better writer.

3. Two Nouns and Two Commas:

Two Nouns and Two Commas topic sentences always start with a noun (a person, place, or thing), describe it, and then make a statement about it (an appositive). The description part of the sentence is surrounded by commas (one before the description, and one after it). For example: Roald Amundsen, an explorer, was the first to find the Northwest Passage.

4. Occasion Position:

Occasion Position topic sentences start with an occasion (a dependent clause) and use words like when, whenever, although, even though. They end with the writer’s position on the topic (an independent clause). For example: Whenever we celebrate the holidays, we always include some special traditions.

5. Get Their Attention:

These topic sentences try to grab the reader’s attention by making a statement that is thought-provoking, controversial, or interesting. For example: The Italian Deli serves the best pastrami sandwiches downtown!

Paragraph Writing Topic Sentence Identification

My Topic Sentence Resource  explains each sentence type with lots more detail and has practice pages for each type as well.

Topic Sentences in Paragraph Writing - How to Write Topic Sentences

3. Review All Five Topic Sentence Types

Once students have a pretty good handle on the five types of topic sentences, I love to do this really fun chocolate chip cookie review lesson. I start by telling the story of how chocolate chip cookies were invented by accident (a copy of the story is included in the Topic Sentence packet).

Then we do the handout that has lots of different kinds of topic sentences that all deal with chocolate chip cookies. When we finish correcting together, I used to love to pass out cookies for the kids to share…until the Health and Wellness policy changed at our school, and it became a no-no…grrr.

We also love to play a sorting game (in the Topic Sentence packet) that has students working in pairs to match up the topic sentences with their sentence type. Once “official” review activities are finished, I keep right on reviewing as we work on writing throughout the year.

For example, sometimes we might be writing a paragraph for an essay and one student will give me a topic sentence example, I might ask the class what kind of topic sentence it was. Or I’ll say, our topic is __ . Who can make up an Occasion Position topic sentence for this topic?

Also, if you’d like the convenience of having all of the paragraph writing materials at your fingertips, you might want to take a peek at this deeply discounted bundle. It includes BOTH print AND digital formats!

Click here to take a look!

Complete Paragraph Bundle - Explicit Writing Instruction - The Teacher Next Door Product Cover

If you’d like to get more teaching ideas for paragraph writing, here are a few posts you might like:

Supporting Ideas and Details

Transitions

Conclusions

5 Tips for More Effective Paragraph Writing

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topic sentence

Definition of topic sentence

Examples of topic sentence in a sentence.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'topic sentence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

1885, in the meaning defined above

Dictionary Entries Near topic sentence

topic of discussion

Cite this Entry

“Topic sentence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/topic%20sentence. Accessed 17 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of topic sentence.

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define topic sentence kid friendly

How to Teach Writing a Topic Sentence 6 Easy Tips

Teaching writing is one of those skills a teacher either loves or hates  i was the latter until i learned to break writing down into very small steps.  pretty soon, i was in love with teaching my upper elementary students how to write..

In all honesty, when I teach writing, I pretend that my students have never been taught how to write a paragraph at all! So, before I even dive into teaching my upper elementary students how to write a full paragraph, I kick things off by teaching them how to start a paragraph with a great topic sentence.

Topic Sentences for a Summary

Because most of my students re familiar with writing short summary paragraph, I start by teaching the “recipe” if you will on how to write a succinct topic sentence that gives the reader a glimpse into what they will read about without giving away the details.

The first method I teach is the T.A.G.S. method.  T.A.G.S. stands for: Title, Author, Genre, State the main idea or synopsis.

For example, if we are summarizing the book Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, we would create a topic sentence that may read like this: Stone Fox , by John Reynolds Gardiner, is a realistic fiction novel about a young boy who enters a sled dog race to try to save his family’s farm.

Once we practice and master that skill, I like to add another tool to my students’ writing toolkit.  We learn the I.W.A.S. model for writing a topic sentence.  I.W.A.S. stands for Identify the title and the genre, Writer, give the writer credit, Action, what is the author doing, explaining, telling, entertaining, etc., State the main idea or synopsis.

For example, In the realistic fiction novel Stone Fox, the author John Reynolds Gardiner entertains us with a story about a young boy who enters a dog sled race to try to save his family farm.

We practice just the topic sentence for mastery. 

Topic Sentences for an Informational Paragraph

Writing informational or non-fiction paragraphs are another important writing skill for upper elementary students.  Students are expected to take a few facts and turn them into a 5 – 6 sentence paragraph. This is why I now focus on writing an interesting topic sentence for informational paragraphs next.

A topic sentence for an informational paragraph should “hook” the reader without giving away too many details.

To accomplish this goal, I teach my students a few tools to start their paragraphs in an interesting way.

  • Use a bold statement.
  • Use a quote.
  • Ask a question.
  • Cluster a few adjectives at the beginning of the sentence.
  • Start your sentence with a conjunction.

One of my favorite activities to reinforce this skill is to have my students take dull and lifeless sentences and make them great!

Activities to Reinforce Topic Sentence Mastery

As any teacher will tell you, writing skills, like any other skill, needs to be reinforced.  Here are some of my favorite activities for reviewing topic sentences.

One of the easiest activities to do this is a simple sort.  I write a few topic sentences on a sheet of paper and give my students a list of six sentences.  Their job is to sort which sentence could be included in a paragraph with that topic sentence and which could not be.

To review the components of a topic sentence, I love having my students play “Four Corners.”  I prepare a PowerPoint that shows a title, an author, a genre type, or a main idea.  Once students identify the category, they silently (I wish) move to the corner.  This is a fun and quick way to review.

Task Cards make great “Take to Your Seat” activities for fast finishers or when you are pulling a small group.  You can create a sentence sort, topic sentence vs. detail sentence, a TAGS sort, or even have your students put together silly topic sentences from task cares.

If you would like to save time and have an entire mini-unit on hand that explicitly teaches How to Write a Topic sentence, you may what to take a look at my “How to Write a Topic Sentence Unit.”  This unit features all of the lessons and activities I have mentioned above in a print-and-go format.

How to Write a Topic Sentence

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define topic sentence kid friendly

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What is a Topic Sentence? (Definition, Examples, How to Use)

Topic sentence

What is a topic sentence ? A topic sentence , the first sentence of a paragraph, presents the main concept discussed in the paragraph. It must contain sufficient information to support numerous examples and subtopics without being too broad to obscure the essay’s intended purpose. The remaining sentences in the paragraph will act as supporting statements, providing evidence and examples for the main idea.

Topic sentence

Importance of topic sentences

In essays or articles , where subjects can shift from one paragraph to another, a topic phrase is particularly crucial. The topic sentences, superficially, may seem to serve the purpose of only acting like the initial or introductory sentence of a paragraph. But it has numerous other purposes that make it an important part of essays.

  • Topic sentences link paragraphs together to improve the sentence flow and make reading easier. When topic sentences are not used, switching between paragraphs can feel abrupt and jarring to the reader. Authors can maintain the rhythm of their writing using topic sentences and facilitate smooth transitions.
  • Topic sentences show the reader a sample of what to expect from the paragraph. The readers can determine from the topic sentence whether the paragraph will comprise a narrative, a list, anecdotal evidence, statistical data, persuasive opinions, or some other form of evidence.
  • If two conflicting viewpoints are presented in a single paragraph, authors can use more than one topic sentence to inform the readers about the changes in the main concept. For example, paragraphs that “compare and contrast” require more than one topic sentence. In these kinds of paragraphs, authors can start with a topic sentence introducing the first idea and follow it up with proof or evidence supporting the idea. Then they can introduce the second topic sentence conveying the opposing viewpoint, followed by proof or evidence supporting it.

Topic sentence

Different types of topic sentences

The different types of topic sentences include:

Simple statement

This topic sentence is used by authors to make a general observation or statement and then elaborate on it in the body of the paragraph.

New studies are emerging indicating the link between climate change and the emergence of numerous new virus strains.

Interrogative or question

This is used by writers in less formal settings. Authors can start a paragraph using implicit or explicit questions related to the topic of discussion to engage the readers.

How many nations are ready to adapt to rising sea levels?

Complex topic sentences are used when the author is discussing a complicated concept that encompasses multiple ideas. Such topic sentences cover more than a single core idea.

Although many people believe that a mother bird will reject its chick if it is touched by humans, the truth is that birds do not abandon their babies after humans touch them.

Authors can use their topic sentences to make explicit demands or pleas to their readers. This will be helpful in breaking the monotony of the essay.

Let’s look at the data from the latest research.

Purely transitional

Though topic sentences are generally responsible for facilitating a smooth transition between paragraphs, occasionally they are purely transitional. These function best when the main topic shifts abruptly by highlighting the switch.

But not everybody agrees.

Pivot sentences are not found at the beginning of a paragraph but rather in the middle, indicating a change in the topic. Conjunctive adverbs like however, furthermore, and meanwhile are frequently used with them.

However, the undisputed king of tennis, Roger Federer, was dethroned in 2008 at Wimbledon.

How to create good topic sentences

A good topic sentence can be created using some simple steps:

1. Determine the key point of your essay

Writers should first form an understanding of the topic of the essay and then create topic sentences to attract the attention of readers. Constructing a good thesis statement can assist the writer in forming better topic sentences.

2. Have an outline for the essay

The author should form a plan or roadmap beforehand on the topics they want to discuss in a paragraph and the evidence they want to use as supporting statements.

3. Be coherent and clear

Writers should make their topic sentences clear and comprehensible so that the reader can form a clear understanding of what to expect in the paragraph.

4. Share opinions

It is advisable to share the opinion or viewpoint of the author in the topic sentence to attract the attention of the reader. Authors should also refrain from writing obvious facts in the topic sentences.

5. Use specific wordings

The topic sentences ought to be precise enough so that the authors can use a few sentences in the paragraph to support them.

6. Transitions should be added between paragraphs

To give the essay or paper a throughline, authors can create topic sentences that refer to the prior paragraph. A topic sentence can make a reference to the preceding paragraph while introducing the next part by using transitional words.

7. Use new, relevant information

Instead of using an obvious fact that everybody knows as the topic sentence, authors can give new information. It is also important to present them in an interesting way.

8. Create a compound or complex topic statement

Compound or complex topic statements feel advanced and stronger. Authors can create such topic statements to add a high level of sophistication to their text.

Many beginner writers and students confuse thesis statements with topic sentences. In essence, thesis statements establish the major idea discussed in the entire essay or paper, as opposed to topic sentences, which introduce the central concept of a paragraph.

Both of these sentences are responsible for giving the readers a sample of what to expect, but in entirely different capacities. Suppose a person is writing a thesis about the different compounds present in coffee and the health benefits it offers.

The thesis statement will be a generalized statement indicating that there are numerous compounds in coffee that benefit the health of humans. But the topic sentence of each paragraph will introduce any single health benefit or compound present in the coffee.

Topic sentences are typically found at the beginning of a paragraph. But this does not mean that they cannot be placed elsewhere in the paragraph. In some cases, when the details discussed can be summarized into a general statement, topic sentences can be included at the end.

Similarly, in some paragraphs where multiple concepts are discussed, topic sentences may be used in the middle of the paragraph. The placement depends on the number of topics being discussed and the way they are discussed.

  • Merriam Webster – topic sentence – Definition
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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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How to Write Masterful Topic Sentences for Essays

Matt Ellis

A topic sentence, usually the first sentence in a paragraph, introduces the main idea of that paragraph and sets its tone. A topic sentence is especially important in  essays , where topics change from paragraph to paragraph. This makes knowing how to write a topic sentence crucial for any student or writer. 

Of course, writing a topic sentence yourself isn’t always easy. How do you start one? What details should you include—or not include? This quick guide explains everything you need about how to write a topic sentence, with plenty of examples sprinkled throughout. 

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Purpose of a topic sentence

On the surface, the purpose of a topic sentence is merely to present the main idea of the paragraph so that the reader knows what to expect. However, the best topic sentences do a little more. 

First, topic sentences string together paragraphs in a way that progresses nicely and facilitates reading. Moving from one paragraph to another can feel jarring and abrupt, so topic sentences help maintain the flow of the overall piece of writing—and readers’ focus as a result. 

Moreover, topic sentences also “preview” what the reader can expect from the rest of the paragraph. Based on the topic sentence, the reader can figure out if the paragraph will contain a list, statistical data, anecdotal evidence, persuasive opinions, a narrative, or something else. 

If the same paragraph covers opposing points of view, you may need two or more topic sentences to show the reader the main idea has changed. The most common example of this is in paragraphs that compare or contrast positions, in which case each perspective needs its own introduction . 

For these types of paragraphs , you could introduce your first idea with the opening topic sentence, then provide one or two sentences of support, and afterward introduce a second topic sentence known as a pivot (explained below). The pivot topic sentence introduces the paragraph’s second main idea or contradicting point of view, also followed by one or two sentences of support. 

Different types of essays use topic sentences differently as well.  Argumentative essays and  persuasive essays may have more opinionated topic sentences, whereas those in expository essays would stick to facts. Compare-and-contrast essays , which alternate between opposite sides of a topic, rely on topic sentences to ease those transitions, on top of everything else. 

This is true not just for different essay types, but also  different paragraph types as well. Even within the same essay, the author may switch up paragraph styles between expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative —in that case, each requires a slightly different style of topic sentence. 

Topic sentence vs. thesis statement

If you’re also learning about  how to write a thesis paper , you may get topic sentences confused with thesis statements. Basically, topic sentences introduce the main idea of a paragraph, whereas thesis statements introduce the main idea of the entire paper or essay. Both serve the same function—preparing the reader with a preview—but in different capacities.  

Topic sentence types and examples 

Before you learn how to write a topic sentence, it helps to see what different forms they can take. Here we explain the different types, along with some topic sentence examples. 

Simple statement

This is the most basic type of topic sentence, in which the author makes a general statement that the rest of the paragraph elaborates on. 

New research indicates a link between a person’s cognitive style and the type of content they post on Twitter. 

Those weeks at the farmhouse gave me some of the best memories of my life. 

To break up the monotony of using the same sentence types over and over again, you can phrase your topic sentences as direct commands or requests to your readers. 

Take a look at the data to see what I mean. 

Now let’s consider the alternative. 

Question (interrogative) 

Opening a paragraph with a question is a great way to get the reader interested and involved, as long as you stay on topic. 

What would you do if you became a millionaire overnight?

How many countries are prepared for a change in sea levels?  

If you have a complicated topic that covers multiple ideas, you may want to use a complex topic sentence. Even though these would still qualify as “statements,” they address more than one main idea. 

Although the majority of people still believe in alpha wolf theory, the truth is that wolf packs in nature don’t necessarily have a designated leader. 

As appealing as Ayn Rand’s ideas may seem to some, the logical and evidential support just isn’t there. 

Purely transitional

While all topic sentences have to deal with transitions to a degree, in some cases they can be purely transitional. These work best in circumstances when the topic changes drastically by drawing attention to the switch. 

However, not everyone agrees.

This was just the way the world was, and perhaps always would have been, if a random apple had not fallen onto the head of a young Isaac Newton. 

Similar to purely transitional sentences, pivot sentences are embedded within a paragraph— not at the beginning—to indicate a shift from one topic to another. They often include conjunctive adverbs such as however , meanwhile , furthermore , etc. 

By contrast, Nikola Tesla saw alternating current as a better solution. 

However, the Bears’ winning streak could not last forever. 

How to write a good topic sentence

Topic sentences follow many of the usual  guidelines for writing sentences , but there are a few particular tips just for them. 

1 Get the reader interested with a hook

Good topic sentences usually include a “hook,” or something that makes people want to read more. While some are more common than others,  you can hook your readers in a variety of ways: 

  • Shocking revelations , like surprising facts or impressive data

Despite the record-breaking turnouts, only one percent of the teams managed to complete the first challenge. 

  • Mystery , which is especially useful with interrogative topic sentences

What finally changed the senator’s mind? 

  • Emotion , or encouraging the reader to form a personal connection with the topic

Living with a dog has its difficulties, but not as many as living without one. 

2 Find a middle ground between general and specific

One of the biggest challenges in writing topic sentences is learning how much to include and how much to save for the rest of the paragraph. In short, you want to say just enough so that the reader knows what the paragraph is about, and ideally gets interested. Everything else should wait until the supporting sentences. 

For example, let’s look at a topic sentence for a paragraph about an apartment, from Meghan Daum’s essay “ My Misspent Youth ”: 

There was nothing particularly fancy about the place. 

The remaining paragraph is full of specific details about the apartment, but Daum doesn’t mention them in the opening sentence. Likewise, she doesn’t ignore the description altogether, giving a glimpse to the reader to pique their curiosity and prepare them for a paragraph describing the place. 

3 Be clear above all

The most important part of topic sentences is clarity. Even if you get the reader excited and eager to read more, it won’t matter if they don’t know what they’re reading about. 

This may be easy enough when just writing a single topic sentence, but it gets harder when writing sentence after sentence for hours on end. After a while, you get bogged down by your own thoughts and concerns about the essay and may momentarily forget about the reader’s perspective.

If that writing process sounds familiar, try Grammarly. Our product not only catches typos and grammar mistakes, but also points out mismatched tone , weak word choice , and even assesses clarity. 

You have enough things to worry about when writing an essay; don’t let the high-priority concerns like clarity fall through the cracks. Try Grammarly for free to see for yourself. 

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  • How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose

How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose

Published on July 21, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 5, 2023.

How to Write Topic Sentences

Every paragraph in your paper needs a topic sentence . The topic sentence expresses what the paragraph is about. It should include two key things:

  • The  topic of the paragraph
  • The central point of the paragraph.

After the topic sentence, you expand on the point zwith evidence and examples.

To build a well-structured argument, you can also use your topic sentences to transition smoothly between paragraphs and show the connections between your points.

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Table of contents

Writing strong topic sentences, topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs, topic sentences that introduce more than one paragraph, where does the topic sentence go, frequently asked questions about topic sentences.

Topic sentences aren’t the first or the last thing you write—you’ll develop them throughout the writing process. To make sure every topic sentence and paragraph serves your argument, follow these steps.

Step 1: Write a thesis statement

The first step to developing your topic sentences is to make sure you have a strong thesis statement . The thesis statement sums up the purpose and argument of the whole paper.

Thesis statement example

Food is an increasingly urgent environmental issue, and to reduce humans’ impact on the planet, it is necessary to change global patterns of food production and consumption.

Step 2: Make an essay outline and draft topic sentences

Next, you should make an outline of your essay’s structure , planning what you want to say in each paragraph and what evidence you’ll use.

At this stage, you can draft a topic sentence that sums up the main point you want to make in each paragraph. The topic sentences should be more specific than the thesis statement, but always clearly related to it.

Topic sentence example

Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has a significant environmental impact .

Step 3: Expand with evidence

The rest of the paragraph should flow logically from the topic sentence, expanding on the point with evidence, examples, or argumentation. This helps keep your paragraphs focused: everything you write should relate to the central idea expressed in the topic sentence.

In our example, you might mention specific research studies and statistics that support your point about the overall impact of the meat industry.

Step 4: Refine your topic sentences

Topic sentences usually start out as simple statements. But it’s important to revise them as you write, making sure they match the content of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence is specific enough to give a clear sense of what to expect from the paragraph, but general enough that it doesn’t give everything away. You can think of it like a signpost: it should tell the reader which direction your argument is going in.

To make your writing stronger and ensure the connections between your paragraphs are clear and logical, you can also use topic sentences to create smooth transitions. To improve sentence flow even more, you can also utilize the paraphrase tool .

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As you write each topic sentence, ask yourself: how does this point relate to what you wrote in the preceding paragraph? It’s often helpful to use transition words in your topic sentences to show the connections between your ideas.

Emphasize and expand

If the paragraph goes into more detail or gives another example to make the same point, the topic sentence can use words that imply emphasis or similarity (for example, furthermore , indeed , in fact , also ).

Indeed , cattle farming alone is responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions.

Summarize and anticipate

If the paragraph turns to a different aspect of the same subject, the topic sentence can briefly sum up the previous paragraph and anticipate the new information that will appear in this one.

While beef clearly has the most dramatic footprint, other animal products also have serious impacts in terms of emissions, water and land use.

Compare and contrast

If the paragraph makes a comparison or introduces contrasting information, the topic sentence can use words that highlight difference or conflict (for example, in contrast , however , yet , on the other hand ).

However , the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.

You can also imply contrast or complicate your argument by formulating the topic sentence as a question.

Is veganism the only solution, or are there more sustainable ways of producing meat and dairy?

Sometimes you can use a topic sentence to introduce several paragraphs at once.

All of the examples above address the environmental impact of meat-eating versus veganism. Together, they make up one coherent part of a larger argument, so the first paragraph could use a topic sentence to introduce the whole section.

In countries with high levels of meat consumption, a move towards plant-based diets is the most obvious route to making food more sustainable. Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has significant environmental impacts.

The topic sentence usually goes at the very start of a paragraph, but sometimes it can come later to indicate a change of direction in the paragraph’s argument.

Given this evidence of the meat industry’s impact on the planet, veganism seems like the only environmentally responsible option for consumers. However, the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.

In this example, the first sentence summarizes the main point that has been made so far. Then the topic sentence indicates that this paragraph will address evidence that complicates or contradicts that point.

In more advanced or creative forms of academic writing , you can play with the placement of topic sentences to build suspense and give your arguments more force. But if in doubt, to keep your research paper clear and focused, the easiest method is to place the topic sentence at the start of the paragraph.

View topic sentences in an example essay

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A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

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McCombes, S. (2023, June 05). How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose. Scribbr. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-paper/topic-sentences/

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  • topic sentence

or topical sentence

a sentence that expresses the essential idea of a paragraph or larger section, usually appearing at the beginning.

Origin of topic sentence

Words nearby topic sentence.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use topic sentence in a sentence

Frame a sentence which you think would be an adequate topic sentence for the whole piece.

In this paragraph every sentence is a repetition of some part of the opening or topic sentence , and serves to explain it.

Is his last sentence, in case it is a repetition of the topic, longer or shorter than the topic sentence ?

In these cases the topic-sentence follows the transition, and it may come as late as the middle of the paragraph.

Below are four paragraphs, from different forms of discourse, all having the topic-sentence at the beginning.

British Dictionary definitions for topic sentence

a sentence in a paragraph that expresses the main idea or point of the whole paragraph

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for topic sentence

The main sentence in a paragraph , often the first sentence. It briefly conveys the essential idea of the paragraph.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Kid-Friendly Dictionaries

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Using a kid-friendly dictionary can help boost your child's dictionary skills and learn more effectively. Age-appropriate presentations from a children's reference book make learning more accessible and fun.

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Little Explorers Picture Dictionary

Kids can find more than 2,500 illustrated child-definitions in the Little Explorers Picture Dictionary from EnchantedLearning.com . Simply click on a letter at the top of the page to see a chart of words starting with that letter. Each word is paired with an image and brief description. Many of the words also include links to activities and extended explanations. There are even different versions of the picture dictionary for nearly 10 languages. This site is great for preschool and lower elementary kids because it is easy and entertaining to use.

Britannica Kids Dictionary

Britannica's Kids Dictionary features simple, distraction-free pages ideal for children in elementary school. Older kids who prefer a clean and concise dictionary will also love this one. There are no ads crowding the screen and it is organized to perfection. The home screen features a word search bar and the Word of the day, that's it. When you type in a word, you'll get the main definition. There are also optional tabs along the side to see articles, images, videos, or websites related to the searched word.

Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary

The Learner's Dictionary is a great option for older kids who are using it to complete homework and projects. Merriam-Webster is a trusted name in the world of reference books and the site is set up as a simplified version of an adult dictionary. For each word, you'll see multiple meanings with usage examples. In addition, there are fun activities such as the quizzes, Word of the Day, and the ability to see which words are most commonly searched.

Kids' Dictionary Apps

Kids using tablets or phones as their main source of information can find free dictionary apps that help with homework or address curiosities. Most of the big name dictionary companies have an app that is suitable for kids, but there are other great options.

Kids Picture Dictionary

Made for kids ages 3 to 6, the free Kids Picture Dictionary app from EFlashApps features over 600 words and is available on iTunes or for androids . Each letter of the alphabet is paired with common English words for children. Every word has an appropriate image, written sentence example, and spoken sentence example. Kids and parents can use the self-record function to practice saying the words and sentences. While it's not a traditional dictionary, this app shows definitions through images and context.

WordWeb Dictionary

The free WordWeb Dictionary app works great for kids in elementary school through the teen years and can also be found in the GooglePlay Store . It is both a dictionary and a thesaurus making it doubly helpful for kids and is an offline app with no ads to keep kids on task. With nearly 300,000 words and phrases, it resembles a simpler version of a standard dictionary. The intelligent word entry feature suggests other possible spellings as kids type to help correct misspellings.

Dictionaries to Buy for Kids

With all the choices, deciding what to get might be a little overwhelming. Keep in mind your child's needs to find the perfect fit for your family.

The Essential Guide

This is a series of subject-specific dictionaries that is part dictionary, part glossary, and part reference book of just helpful information. For example, the math dictionary has terms as simple as addend and quotient, but it also explores statistics and probability and gives examples of problem-solving strategies for word problems.

Oxford Picture Dictionary

Bilingual dictionaries are becoming more common among the standard picture dictionary genre. The Oxford Picture Dictionary is organized into thematic chapters such as "my house" or "my community." The pictures are engaging scenes with lots to look at, and of course, everything is labeled in both English and Spanish.

Merriam-Webster

Of course, the folks at Merriam-Webster publish one of the best children's dictionaries on the market. Merriam-Webster's Elementary Dictionary is comprehensive for the age level and is a good bridge between a more standard dictionary and a picture dictionary for younger learners.

Kid-Friendly Dictionary Types

When you think of a dictionary, you may think of a reference book that has words and their definitions. However, the world of children's dictionaries delves deeper than that.

  • Subject Specific Dictionary - concentrates on just one subject such as science or a math dictionary with mathematical terms and examples
  • Dictionaries for Toddlers and Preschoolers - have many pictures and simple, large printed words on pages made to be durable
  • Student Dictionaries - shortened versions of adult dictionaries
  • Online Dictionaries - dictionary search engines that also feature games and activities

Resources for the Child Wordsmith

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define topic sentence kid friendly

Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

In Word, you can create a form that others can fill out and save or print.  To do this, you will start with baseline content in a document, potentially via a form template.  Then you can add content controls for elements such as check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Optionally, these content controls can be linked to database information.  Following are the recommended action steps in sequence.  

Show the Developer tab

In Word, be sure you have the Developer tab displayed in the ribbon.  (See how here:  Show the developer tab .)

Open a template or a blank document on which to base the form

You can start with a template or just start from scratch with a blank document.

Start with a form template

Go to File > New .

In the  Search for online templates  field, type  Forms or the kind of form you want. Then press Enter .

In the displayed results, right-click any item, then select  Create. 

Start with a blank document 

Select Blank document .

Add content to the form

Go to the  Developer  tab Controls section where you can choose controls to add to your document or form. Hover over any icon therein to see what control type it represents. The various control types are described below. You can set properties on a control once it has been inserted.

To delete a content control, right-click it, then select Remove content control  in the pop-up menu. 

Note:  You can print a form that was created via content controls. However, the boxes around the content controls will not print.

Insert a text control

The rich text content control enables users to format text (e.g., bold, italic) and type multiple paragraphs. To limit these capabilities, use the plain text content control . 

Click or tap where you want to insert the control.

Rich text control button

To learn about setting specific properties on these controls, see Set or change properties for content controls .

Insert a picture control

A picture control is most often used for templates, but you can also add a picture control to a form.

Picture control button

Insert a building block control

Use a building block control  when you want users to choose a specific block of text. These are helpful when you need to add different boilerplate text depending on the document's specific purpose. You can create rich text content controls for each version of the boilerplate text, and then use a building block control as the container for the rich text content controls.

building block gallery control

Select Developer and content controls for the building block.

Developer tab showing content controls

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

In a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you provide or they can type in their own information. In a drop-down list, users can only select from the list of choices.

combo box button

Select the content control, and then select Properties .

To create a list of choices, select Add under Drop-Down List Properties .

Type a choice in Display Name , such as Yes , No , or Maybe .

Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

Fill in any other properties that you want.

Note:  If you select the Contents cannot be edited check box, users won’t be able to click a choice.

Insert a date picker

Click or tap where you want to insert the date picker control.

Date picker button

Insert a check box

Click or tap where you want to insert the check box control.

Check box button

Use the legacy form controls

Legacy form controls are for compatibility with older versions of Word and consist of legacy form and Active X controls.

Click or tap where you want to insert a legacy control.

Legacy control button

Select the Legacy Form control or Active X Control that you want to include.

Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

Select the content control that you want to change.

Go to Developer > Properties .

Controls Properties  button

Change the properties that you want.

Add protection to a form

If you want to limit how much others can edit or format a form, use the Restrict Editing command:

Open the form that you want to lock or protect.

Select Developer > Restrict Editing .

Restrict editing button

After selecting restrictions, select Yes, Start Enforcing Protection .

Restrict editing panel

Advanced Tip:

If you want to protect only parts of the document, separate the document into sections and only protect the sections you want.

To do this, choose Select Sections in the Restrict Editing panel. For more info on sections, see Insert a section break .

Sections selector on Resrict sections panel

If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab .

Open a template or use a blank document

To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls. Content controls include things like check boxes, text boxes, and drop-down lists. If you’re familiar with databases, these content controls can even be linked to data.

Go to File > New from Template .

New from template option

In Search, type form .

Double-click the template you want to use.

Select File > Save As , and pick a location to save the form.

In Save As , type a file name and then select Save .

Start with a blank document

Go to File > New Document .

New document option

Go to File > Save As .

Go to Developer , and then choose the controls that you want to add to the document or form. To remove a content control, select the control and press Delete. You can set Options on controls once inserted. From Options, you can add entry and exit macros to run when users interact with the controls, as well as list items for combo boxes, .

Adding content controls to your form

In the document, click or tap where you want to add a content control.

On Developer , select Text Box , Check Box , or Combo Box .

Developer tab with content controls

To set specific properties for the control, select Options , and set .

Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each control that you want to add.

Set options

Options let you set common settings, as well as control specific settings. Select a control and then select Options to set up or make changes.

Set common properties.

Select Macro to Run on lets you choose a recorded or custom macro to run on Entry or Exit from the field.

Bookmark Set a unique name or bookmark for each control.

Calculate on exit This forces Word to run or refresh any calculations, such as total price when the user exits the field.

Add Help Text Give hints or instructions for each field.

OK Saves settings and exits the panel.

Cancel Forgets changes and exits the panel.

Set specific properties for a Text box

Type Select form Regular text, Number, Date, Current Date, Current Time, or Calculation.

Default text sets optional instructional text that's displayed in the text box before the user types in the field. Set Text box enabled to allow the user to enter text into the field.

Maximum length sets the length of text that a user can enter. The default is Unlimited .

Text format can set whether text automatically formats to Uppercase , Lowercase , First capital, or Title case .

Text box enabled Lets the user enter text into a field. If there is default text, user text replaces it.

Set specific properties for a Check box .

Default Value Choose between Not checked or checked as default.

Checkbox size Set a size Exactly or Auto to change size as needed.

Check box enabled Lets the user check or clear the text box.

Set specific properties for a Combo box

Drop-down item Type in strings for the list box items. Press + or Enter to add an item to the list.

Items in drop-down list Shows your current list. Select an item and use the up or down arrows to change the order, Press - to remove a selected item.

Drop-down enabled Lets the user open the combo box and make selections.

Protect the form

Go to Developer > Protect Form .

Protect form button on the Developer tab

Note:  To unprotect the form and continue editing, select Protect Form again.

Save and close the form.

Test the form (optional)

If you want, you can test the form before you distribute it.

Protect the form.

Reopen the form, fill it out as the user would, and then save a copy.

Creating fillable forms isn’t available in Word for the web.

You can create the form with the desktop version of Word with the instructions in Create a fillable form .

When you save the document and reopen it in Word for the web, you’ll see the changes you made.

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IMAGES

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    Definition of topic sentence. Best online English dictionaries for children, with kid-friendly definitions, integrated thesaurus for kids, images, and animations. Spanish and Chinese language support available

  2. Topic Sentences Lesson for Kids: Writing & Examples

    Amy Fredrickson View bio Learn about topic sentences in paragraphs. Discover what a topic sentence does in a paragraph and the purpose of using a topic sentence. Explore how to identify a...

  3. Topic sentence Facts for Kids

    In expository writing, a topic sentence is a sentence that summarizes the main idea of a paragraph. It is usually the first sentence in a paragraph. Also known as a focus sentence, it encapsulates or organizes an entire paragraph. Although topic sentences may appear anywhere in a paragraph, in academic essays they often appear at the beginning.

  4. Topic Sentence Definition, Examples, and Guidelines

    Richard Nordquist Updated on February 12, 2020 A topic sentence is a sentence, sometimes at the beginning of a paragraph, that states or suggests the main idea (or topic) of a paragraph. Not all paragraphs begin with topic sentences. In some, the topic sentence appears in the middle or at the end.

  5. How to Teach Paragraph Writing

    Briefly, here are each of the five topic sentences I introduce: 1. List Statements: A List Statement tells the reader exactly what the paragraph will be about by listing the three supporting ideas. For example: My favorite sports include soccer, football, and basketball. 2.

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  7. Student Dictionary for Kids

    Kid-friendly meanings from the reference experts at Merriam-Webster help students build and master vocabulary.

  8. Topic sentence Definition & Meaning

    : a sentence that states the main thought of a paragraph or of a larger unit of discourse and is usually placed at or near the beginning Examples of topic sentence in a Sentence Recent Examples on the Web Credit is possible without introductions, conclusions, topic sentences, or meaningful transitions between thoughts.

  9. How to Teach Writing a Topic Sentence 6 Easy Tips

    Use a bold statement. Use a quote. Ask a question. Cluster a few adjectives at the beginning of the sentence. Start your sentence with a conjunction. One of my favorite activities to reinforce this skill is to have my students take dull and lifeless sentences and make them great!

  10. What is a Topic Sentence? (Definition, Examples, How to Use)

    A topic sentence, the first sentence of a paragraph, presents the main concept discussed in the paragraph. It must contain sufficient information to support numerous examples and subtopics without being too broad to obscure the essay's intended purpose. The remaining sentences in the paragraph will act as supporting statements, providing ...

  11. Kid's Dictionary

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  12. Topic Sentences: How Do You Write a Great One?

    First, topic sentences string together paragraphs in a way that progresses nicely and facilitates reading. Moving from one paragraph to another can feel jarring and abrupt, so topic sentences help maintain the flow of the overall piece of writing—and readers' focus as a result. Moreover, topic sentences also "preview" what the reader ...

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    Introduction. (3 minutes) Show the cover of a nonfiction book and review the definition of nonfiction in kid-friendly language. Explain to the students that a nonfiction text or book is about a real topic. Explain that today students will be learning about the difference between a main topic and a main idea in a nonfiction text.

  14. How to Write Topic Sentences

    Step 2: Make an essay outline and draft topic sentences. Next, you should make an outline of your essay's structure, planning what you want to say in each paragraph and what evidence you'll use. At this stage, you can draft a topic sentence that sums up the main point you want to make in each paragraph. The topic sentences should be more ...

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    Grammar is a set of rules that tells how a language works. Every language has its own set of rules. The rules of grammar explain what different kinds of words do and how they work together.

  16. TOPIC SENTENCE Definition & Usage Examples

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    Definition of topic. Best online English dictionaries for children, with kid-friendly definitions, integrated thesaurus for kids, images, and animations. Spanish and Chinese language support available

  18. Kid-Friendly Dictionaries

    WordWeb Dictionary. The free WordWeb Dictionary app works great for kids in elementary school through the teen years and can also be found in the GooglePlay Store. It is both a dictionary and a thesaurus making it doubly helpful for kids and is an offline app with no ads to keep kids on task. With nearly 300,000 words and phrases, it resembles ...

  19. CHILD-FRIENDLY

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  23. Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

    Show the Developer tab. If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab.. Open a template or use a blank document. To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls.