How To Write A News Lead


  1. Condense story into one or two words. Put those words as close to the beginning of the first sentence as possible without destroying the flow of the lead sentence.

  2. Keep leads short — 20 to 30 words for the first sentence. Or fewer.

  3. The news lead should tell the reader what the story is about and be interesting enough to draw the reader into the rest of the story. Remember that the readers won’t know what the story is about until you tell them.

  4. Find the action in the story. Put the action in the lead.

  5. Always double-check names and numbers. Check spelling, style and grammar. Put everything in order.

  6. Attribute opinions. Stick with the facts.

  7. Details, description. Report first, then write. Learn all, tell 10 percent.

  8. Decide which of the news values best applies to the lead of the story. Write a lead that emphasizes that news value.

  9. Write in the active voice.

  10. Don’t lead with a name, time or place unless that is the most interesting/important thing in the story.