Lead paragraph

A lead paragraph (also called a lead or lede) in journalism and sometimes other kinds of literature is the opening (leading) paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called the lead, it usually occurs together with the headline or title. It precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story. In both spellings, the word rhymes with the word need.[1]


The term is sometimes spelled "lede"[2] with a claim it was a historical spelling intended to distinguish it from the homograph lead;[1] however, the spelling 'lede' does not appear in any journalism style books or textbooks before 1959.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Other introductions

In journalism, the lead paragraph should not be confused with the standfirst (UK), rider, kicker, bank head(line), deck, dek, or subhead (US). These terms refer to an introductory or summary line or brief paragraph, located immediately above or below the headline, and typographically distinct from the body of the article.[9]


Journalistic leads emphasize grabbing the attention of the reader.[10] In journalism, the failure to mention the most important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first paragraph is sometimes called "burying the lead", which is discouraged with the catch phrase "Don't bury the lead!". Most standard news leads include brief answers to the questions of who, what, why, when, where, and how the key event in the story took place.

Leads in essays summarize the outline of the argument and conclusion that follows in the main body of the essay. Encyclopedia leads tend to define the subject matter as well as emphasize the interesting points of the article. Features and general articles in magazines tend to be somewhere between journalistic and encyclopedian in style and often lack a distinct lead paragraph entirely. Leads or introductions in books vary enormously in length, intent and content.

See also


Look up lede in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  1. 1 2 "Carol" (author unidentifiable) (November 28, 2000). "The Mavens' Word of the Day: lede". RandomHouse.com. New York City, NY, US: Random House/Bertelsmann. "Maven's Word of the Day" blog (defunct as of 2012). Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-28. This tertiary source reuses information from other sources but does not name them.
  2. "Lede". Merriam-Webster Online. Chicago, IL, US: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  3. "Owens, Howard" (September 18, 2011). "lede-vs-lead". HowardOwens.com. New York City, NY, US: Owens Press. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  4. William Metz (1977). Newswriting: from lead to "30". Prentice-Hall. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-13-617514-8.
  5. Louis Martin Lyons (1965). Reporting the news: selections from Nieman reports. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 286.
  6. Grant Milnor Hyde (November 2008). Newspaper Editing - A Manual for Editors, Copyreaders and Students of Newspaper Desk Work. Read Books. ISBN 978-1-4437-2632-0.
  7. Carl G. Miller (1962). Modern Journalism. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 33.
  8. Frank Luther Mott (2000). American Journalism: A History of Newspapers in the United States Through 250 Years, 1690-1940. Routledge/Thoemmes Press. ISBN 978-0-415-22893-0.
  9. "Standfirst". Double-Tongued Dictionary. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  10. Peha & Lester (2006). Be a Writer: Your Guide to the Writing Life!: Proven Tips and Powerful Techniques to Help Young Writers Get Started. Leverage Factory. p. 125.
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