Main Idea Finder: Free Summarizing Tool

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How it works

If you are looking for a main idea finder, consider using this online summarizing tool. It will condense any paper into a short piece that contains its central idea. All you need to do is:

Add the text to find its main idea
Choose the desired summary length
Click the button & grab the result

🤔 Main Idea Finder: Why Using It?

Students often need to analyze loads of literary works to synthesize data and present their findings in academic assignments. Thus, they read tons of articles and books every semester.

Such a hassle, isn’t it?

But the good news is that you can leave this activity out and relax, getting only the gist of every assigned text carefully prepared for you by smart software. It’s the main idea finder – a tool that has made thousands of students’ lives easier and can do the same for you. Using our app, you can easily process large volumes of data and use brief summaries to write reports, literature reviews, and well-grounded analyses.

What Is a Central Idea of a Text?

The central idea is the primary message the author tries to communicate in his text, whether a lengthy book or a short article. Summaries can be long or short, but any piece of literature also has a key point that can be summarized in a single sentence or statement.

How to Find the Main Idea?

At first, it might seem challenging to elicit one main idea in a text, especially if it's long and touches upon many issues. Still, the simplest way to do this is to answer a question, "tell what the author wanted to say in one short sentence." You can also think of this task as explaining the content to a child in simple terms. The answer will soon surface.

How to Summarize the Main Idea of an Article?

If you were tasked with summarizing the literary work’s idea, focus on the key terms first. What was the subject of the authors’ analysis? What did they want to analyze? Did they succeed? Then produce a summary of the key idea based on the authors’ main focus and approach to that subject.

🆚 Central Idea vs. Theme: What Is the Difference?

The central idea is typically different from the literary piece's theme. The distinction can become clear if you approach the main idea as the topic of a book or an article. It can be elicited even from a title or an abstract, as these parts rarely contradict the rest of the content.

A theme, in turn, is about the meaning that lies under the surface of words and sentences. It is a moral message you can embrace only after careful study of the text and thinking it over.

To illustrate these points, let’s consider a couple of examples. For instance, when talking about The Catcher in the Rye, you will identify:

  • Main idea: resistance to coming of age
  • Theme: protection of innocence

If you approach Othello, you may note the following:

  • Main idea: manipulation and jealousy
  • Theme: trust

As you can see, the main idea is closely related to a literary work's theme. Yet, they are subtly different; the main idea refers to the plot more, while the theme concerns the story's moral and life lesson.

👣 Steps to Find the Main Idea

There are several effective techniques to find the text’s main idea quickly and correctly. The main helper in this task is a well-established structure of academic texts. It may give you a couple of pointers on where to look for, saving you time and effort. Let’s review these pro tips and see how they work in practice.

Step #1: Look for a Thesis Statement

As a rule, the authors place their central ideas at the end of the introduction. The final sentence of an introductory paragraph is referred to as a thesis statement.

A thesis serves as a roadmap for the entire text, clarifying what the author means to discuss and what point they will argue. Thus, if you find that statement, half of the work is done, as you have the main idea at your fingertips.

Step #2: Mind Topic Sentences

To produce a more extended summary of the author's key ideas, you should also pay attention to the topic sentences spread across the text. These are typically placed at the beginning of each new paragraph.

A topic sentence communicates the paragraph's main idea, while the following sentences are used to strengthen that point and provide additional evidence.

Step #3: The First and Last Sentence Matter

If you're unsure whether you've interpreted the main idea or topic sentence correctly, look at the final sentence of the paragraph as well.

A concluding sentence is a summary that should wrap up the main idea once more before proceeding to the next point. So, a joint analysis of the paragraph's opening and closing sentences will give you a clearer point for a summary.

Step #4: Summarize a Paragraph in One Sentence

Nothing works better than a one-sentence summary. No matter the length of your assigned reading, anything can be explained in one short sentence. Once you perform this exercise, the text’s main idea will surface without a problem.

Step #5: Search for Repeated Keywords

A more nuanced approach is to look for repeated words or their synonyms. Such simple linguistic analysis will also help uncover the main idea and underlying themes.

🔎 How to Find the Main Idea: Example

Finding the text’s main idea shouldn’t be hard if you know where to look for it. Let’s consider an excerpt from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People as an exercise for main idea formulation. Here is the full fragment:

If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I'll tell you what you are. That determines your character. That is the most significant thing about you. For example, John D. Rockefeller got his feeling of importance by giving money to erect a modern hospital in Peking, China, to care for millions of poor people whom he had never seen and never would see. Dillinger, on the other hand, got his feeling of importance by being a bandit, a bank robber and killer. When the FBI agents were hunting him, he dashed into a farmhouse up in Minnesota and said, "I'm Dillinger!" Fie was proud of the fact that he was Public Enemy Number One. "I'm not going to hurt you, but I'm Dillinger!" he said. Yes, the one significant difference between Dillinger and Rockefeller is how they got their feeling of importance.

You can locate the main ideas in this fragment using several tips we've outlined above. Here's what you will see if you focus on the topic sentence:

If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I'll tell you what you are.

It shows that the fragment will be dedicated to how different people find their feeling of importance and how the latter affects their activities, self-perception, and overall character. Now, we can also take a closer look at the first and last sentences of the paragraph:

If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I'll tell you what you are. Yes, the one significant difference between Dillinger and Rockefeller is how they got their feeling of importance.

This approach confirms our initial finding about the “feeling of importance” as the author’s central idea in this paragraph. Dale Carnegie gives two distinct examples – a philanthrope and a criminal – to show that regardless of the person’s activity, the self-derived feeling of importance is central in shaping their characters.

You can also apply the technique of repeated words to elicit the key idea here. A quick review of the paragraph shows the following repeated phrases and their synonyms:

  • How you get your feeling of importance
  • Significant

So, these phrases show that the main idea is about a search for one's feeling of importance and its significant role in determining one's character, type of activities, and vocation.

🤖 Automatic Main Idea Finders: How Do They Work?

As you can see, eliciting key details and themes in a text is not that hard.

All you need to do is:

  1. Focus on the topic,
  2. Read the passage carefully to capture its gist.

But why do this manually and waste so much time if you can use an automatic central idea generator? This machine tool can help you identify the main points in the assigned text. This way, you will have concise summaries outlining the most vital statements, which can speed up your essay work. Let’s have a look at how such an app works.

The tools that can single out main ideas in large texts usually follow the extraction-based principle. The smart algorithm identifies key phrases and words labeled as important in the text, extracting and compiling them into a shorter textual variant. The system uses machine learning techniques that approach summary from the word/phrase classification perspective:

  • Frequency distribution of specific words
  • Topic words
  • Latent semantic analysis
  • Discourse-based text analysis
  • Bayesian topic models
  • Graph models

Besides, you need to indicate the expected length of the summary, which may also affect the scoring criteria and selection of particular words and phrases for the final summary compilation. This way, you receive a concise summarization of content without redundant details; it contains the author's core message.

We hope that this main idea finder will be useful for you. Please try other free tools we offer: summarizer, essay rephraser, paragraph reworder, and thesis finder.

🔗 References

  1. How to Find the Main Idea With Easy Strategies - YourDictionary
  2. Theme in Literature: What Is It? - The Balance Careers
  3. Difference between main idea and theme in literature
  4. One Sentence Summary
  5. How to Summarize a Passage With One-Sentence Summary