Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Lead section

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Manual of Style
WikiProject icon This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.

Lead length should be based on {chars/word} + {words/paragraph} not just raw characters[edit]

"Lead Length" should be based on {chars/word} + {words/paragraph} not just raw characters. Yes, it will vary based on article size but that is inevitable. This measurement concept holds equally true for Roman and Cyrillic texts, so this is about maintaining some semblance of a status quo for text readability.

However, the current character "Lead" size recommendations are overall too large and of no help to readability. The numbers seem to be derived out of thin air.

Here is my view on how the text should read. The text here really should have some text referring to word and sentence length. This is the most minimal modification to keep things sensible.

Eyreland (talk) 01:27, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't object to changes of character/para recommendations, but I do object to the added text "Paragraphs should contain between 2 and 11 sentences on average." Show me an article with a lead paragraph of 11 sentences, that is neither too long and hard to read, nor too clunky and full of unnecessarily short, simple sentences. I would think 6 sentences to a paragraph is generous enough - even the lead of World War I doesn't go beyond that, and WWI needed two paragraphs beyond the recommended "no longer than four". Maybe the problem lies with "7.5 words per sentence"; sentences should be way longer than that. Bilorv (Talk)(Contribs) 09:02, 26 August 2014 (UTC)



The appropriate length of the lead section depends on the total length of the article. As a general guideline—but not absolute rule—the lead should usually be no longer than four paragraphs.

The length of the lead should conform to readers' expectations of a short, but useful and complete, summary of the topic. A lead that is too short leaves the reader unsatisfied; a lead that is too long is difficult to read and may cause the reader to lose interest halfway.

The following suggestions about lead length may be useful ("article length" refers to readable prose size):

Article length Lead length
Fewer than 5000 characters One or two paragraphs
5000–10000 characters Two or three paragraphs
More than 10000 characters Three or four paragraphs

Note that 20,000 characters is about the length of a short story, based on 4.5 characters per word and 7.5 words per sentence. Paragraphs should contain between 2 and 11 sentences on average.

Lead sections that reflect or expand on sections in other articles are discussed at Summary style. Journalistic conventions for lead sections are discussed at News style.