What Never To Do In A News Lead
- 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.
- Don't begin with the time, day or date, or place. Better to focus on the action, the who or what.
- 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...
- Don't begin with a question if the question is answered in the story. Question leads are cliché leads.
- 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.
- Don't use a form of the verb to be in the lead, if you can avoid it. Use an action verb.
- Don't overstate the news in the lead, making it more dramatic than it really is. Watch "disaster" words.