Focus is important in any career field, but it is particularly important in information technology (IT). The more focused and specific your topic, the more information you can provide.
Consider how a computer organizes information using files, folders, and documents. In writing, you organize information in much the same way using sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Ultimately, a focused topic allows you to effectively manage information.
|Readings, Resources, and Assignments|
Read the following before starting the lesson:
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
Narrowing a Topic
An effective writer should avoid choosing a broad topic. Narrowing a topic can seem challenging. The goal of narrowing a topic is to provide a focus to your essay.
Often you will find it necessary to begin with a broad topic, but from there, you must narrow your focus.
Consider the topic of technology.
Can you imagine writing a five-paragraph essay on the broad topic of technology?
Take a look at the following example of narrowing a topic for the assignment The History of Social Networking.
The History of Social Networking
Personal Interest Direction
First Narrowing of Topic
The evolution of Facebook as a communication tool
Steps to Narrowing a Topic
Big Topic: Communications (This is much too broad.)
Think Small: Using cell phones effectively in a high school classroom
Make sure that you read Choosing a Topic.
Watch the Choosing and Narrowing Research Topics-YouTube to learn more about the importance of narrowing your topic for an essay.
Now that you have watched the video on narrowing topics it is your turn to practice.
Complete the following practice activities. Check your answers to see how well you did.
Practice Activity 1: Identifying a Good Topic Sentence
Imagine that you have been asked to write a paragraph about plagiarism.
Which of these sentences would be an appropriate topic sentence? Which is too broad? Which is too narrow?
______ Plagiarism is a huge problem for community colleges.
______ Ralph bought a research paper on the Internet.
______ Advances in technology are making it easier to detect plagiarism.
Too Broad: Plagiarism is a huge problem for community colleges.
Too Narrow: My cousin Ralph bought a research paper on the Internet.
Topic Sentence: Advances in technology are making it easier to detect plagiarism.
Practice Activity 2: Identifying a Good Topic Sentence
Which of these would be an appropriate topic sentence? Which is too broad? Which is too narrow?
______ Cutting and pasting and then changing some words is one type of plagiarism.
______ Easy access to information on the Internet makes it difficult for students to know what actions are considered plagiarism.
______ Plagiarism is cheating.
Too Broad - Plagiarism is cheating.
Too Narrow - Cutting and pasting and then changing some words is one type of plagiarism.
Topic Sentence - Easy access to information on the Internet makes it difficult for students to know what actions are considered plagiarism.
For additional practice, complete the following activity:
Writing Topic Sentences
Now that you have learned about topic sentences and identified whether a topic is too broad or too narrow, give it a try. Take out a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil and write a new topic sentence about plagiarism.
Whether it's a blog, an email, a set of instructions, or an essay, focused writing is critical. If you are focused, you are effective as a writer. If you are effective, you are understood, and that, ultimately, is every writer's goal.
Now it is time to show what you have learned. Complete the assignment below.