A lead paragraph (sometimes shortened to lead; also spelled lede) is the opening paragraph of an article, essay, book chapter, or other written work that summarizes its main ideas.
Types of leads
Journalistic leads emphasize grabbing the attention of the reader. 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", as in the 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 and book forewords vary enormously in length, intent and content.
In journalism, the lead paragraph should not be confused with the standfirst (UK), rider, kicker (US), 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.
The term is sometimes spelled "lede", with a claim that it was a historical spelling intended to distinguish it from the homograph lead, which was commonly used in editing and print setting to indicate the addition or subtraction of "leading" (i.e. blank lead ingots used to create "white space" between items, such as a headline and the text which followed).
|Look up lede in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Introduction (writing)
- Abstract (summary)
- Opening sentence
- Inverted pyramid (journalism)
- Editorial (also known as a "leader" in British English)
- Nut graph
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- Carl G. Miller (1962). Modern Journalism. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 33.
- 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.