Difference Between Main Idea and Topic (With Table)

The main idea and topic might be confusing to most people but if you think twice about their meaning then there is a huge difference. However, people often tend to make the mistake of confusing the meaning of these two terms. The main idea means the concept or the aim of a particular topic whereas the topic is the general subject like a car, chair, dog, cow, and such other kinds of stuff.

You see that the meaning of the main idea differs from the term topic. However, the main idea can be involved inside a topic. Say suppose you are talking about a particular topic while giving a speech but your topic should have the main idea behind that topic. It should have a meaning about what you are trying to convey to the people.

Main Idea vs Topic

The difference between the main idea and topic is that topic is a general subject whereas the main idea can be involved inside the topic depicting the hidden message that one wants to convey to the other person.

The meaning is quite simple yet most people find it difficult to understand. However, it is important to know the difference between the two so that you can avoid mistakes in the future.

Comparison Table Between Main Idea and Topic

Parameters of ComparisonMain IdeaTopic
MeaningThe main idea means what a person is trying to convey the message.Topic is the general subject that a person is talking about or speaking.
SimplicityThe main idea cannot be simple in most cases because the main idea behind a topic can have a deep meaning that cannot be understood by everyone.Topic is a simple subject and is usually in one word.
Specific or GeneralThe main idea should be complete so that your audience understands what you are trying to share.Topic is not specific nor they are general.
FoundThe main idea can be found anywhere suppose in the middle of a paragraph, or at the end or even in the beginning.A topic can be found in the paragraph.

What is Main Idea?

The main idea is different than that of the topic because when you are writing an essay you should have the main idea about it. Say suppose you are writing an essay on the environment where you start by writing about the topic ‘environment’ but your main idea is to spread awareness about saving the environment through your writing.

So, now I hope you understand how the main idea is different from the topic. The main idea should be complete in any case because that is the main thing and contains an important message that you want to convey to your readers or the listeners.

The main idea is very much similar to like ‘moral of the story’ where after reading a whole story at the end you understand what is the moral of that particular story. But, this is not the case in most cases because the main idea can be at the beginning, middle, or the end of a paragraph.

If you are a student and you want to write an effective essay then you must know how to write your main idea about a particular topic. It will definitely impress your teacher and also you will improve your writing skills and also your thinking ability.

The main idea is always important than the topic itself because everything has a reason and the main idea should be the reason for the particular topic. So, you can now train yourself how to write the main idea in a particular sentence or speak in a speech.

What is Topic?

The topic is nothing but a general subject. A topic can have the main idea as explained above. A topic can be anything like dog, cow, crow, hen, duck, and many other kinds of stuff. One must understand the topic carefully before having the main idea.

Say suppose you are a film director and your theme for the movie is thriller then the theme becomes the topic for the movie that you are directing. And it is then you must have the main idea about the movie like the message that you want to convey to your audience through that movie.

Remember that you must understand the topic before conveying your main idea because it would be worthless if you do not understand the topic but you convey your main idea to the audience. So, it is also important to know how the topic and the main idea go together every time and in everything possible.

Main Differences Between Main Idea and Topic

  1. The topic can be anything and is not general or specific but the main idea should be complete and clear.
  2. The main idea can appear anywhere in a paragraph or in a sentence and the topic too can be found in a sentence.
  3. Topics are simpler words or usually, they are just a single word whereas the main idea may not be simple because main idea might not be understood by all people.
  4. Topic means the subject whereas the main idea means the message that one needs to convey to the audience.


Well, it is necessary for everyone to understand the difference between the topic and the main idea. One needs to understand how the main idea can be formed for a particular topic. It is also necessary that you should understand the topic first before discovering the main idea for that topic.

The main idea is important because there should be a motive behind everything otherwise the work will be useless. Therefore, students and teachers, and every other person should know how these two differ from each other.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/357913
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/1991-19772-001
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