What Never To Do In A News Lead


  1. Don't make the lead too complicated. Don't load it down with too many names, figures or details. Keep the lead sentence short -- never more than 35 words.

  2. Don't begin with the time, day or date, or place. Better to focus on the action, the who or what.

  3. Don't begin with an empty, say-nothing expression or a generality that fails to distinguish this news from other news: There were... In a report released today... According to...

  4. Don't begin with a question if the question is answered in the story. Question leads are cliché leads.

  5. Don't begin with a direct quote if it is a full sentence. Don't start with a quote unless it is an exceptional quote.

  6. Don't use a form of the verb to be in the lead, if you can avoid it. Use an action verb.

  7. Don't overstate the news in the lead, making it more dramatic than it really is. Watch "disaster" words.