The lede is the first paragraph of a news article. You should write a lede that informs your readers of the main idea of your article while also drawing them in, like the headline. However, your lede cannot repeat the headline verbatim. Instead, take advantage of the longer word count in ledes, typically between 25-40 words, to describe what happened in more detail.
Do’s and Don’ts of Ledes
- Cover the 5W’s and H of journalism in as few words as possible.
- Begin with a wow statement that draws the reader in an honest way.
- Maintain word count between 25-40 words.
- Shoot for one-sentence ledes. If you find you cannot fit a compelling and informative lede in one-sentence, break lede into two sentences.
- Do not include speech titles or all the organizations involved in the event in the lede to describe the Who. You can detail this later in your story. Do not begin the lede with When the event occurred. Save the When for later in your lede
- Do not overpromise just to catch the reader’s attention.
- Do not overdetail as you will get a chance to elaborate on the main points in the body of your story.
- Do not start a lede with a full quote. You are welcome to use partial quotes surrounding a few words if needed to convey the story’s main idea.
Examples of Lede
The lede examples below are followed by an identification of the 5W’s and H and their word count.
The Clear Lake Gem and Mineral Show at the Pasadena Convention Center attracted enthusiasts of paleontology and geology with gems, dinosaur fossils replicas, and historic artifacts in late March to educate the community and help local vendors.
- Who: The Clear Lake Gem and Mineral Show
- Where: Pasadena Convention Center
- What: Attracted enthusiasts of paleontology and geolog
- When: Late March
- Why: to educate the community and help local vendors.
- How: with gems, dinosaur fossils replicas, and historic artifacts
As teen dating violence remains a prevalent issue, Pop singer-songwriter Lana del Rey’s hypnotic song, released last month worldwide, serves as a PSA for American youth that gracefully tunes listeners into the experiences of dating violence.
- Who: Pop singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey
- Where: Worldwide
- What: Serves as a PSA for American youth
- When: Last month
- Why: Teen dating violence remains a prevalent issue
- How: Gracefully tunes listeners into the experiences of teen dating violence
Campus Activities Board tabled in the Student Activities lounge to commemorate companionship on Valentine’s Day with a station to make bracelets, cards, and goodie bags for pals.
- Who: Campus Activities Board
- Where: In the Student Activities Lounge
- What: Created an inclusive event
- When: On Valentine’s Day
- Why: For Gators to commemorate platonic love
- How: With a station to make bracelets, cards, and goodie bags for pals.