Building theory with ethnography and filmic research increasingly requires focussing on key practices or settings, instead of painting a broad panorama of a culture. But few authors discuss why and how to focus. This article provides a systematic discussion of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of focusing ethnographic research by comparing different schools of thought and suggesting a practice theory-based approach. It argues that many research projects are focused but do not reflect on the process of focusing, describes how to identify focal settings or practices, and introduces sequential analysis as a tool for studying them. Analysing videos, documents and language are discussed in turn, and methods for ensuring quality in focused ethnography are suggested. Finally, the article provides recommendations for publishing focused ethnography as text or film.