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Leads. Mrs. Wobser SHS Courier. The Hard Lead also called. AP summary lead Summary lead. The Hard Lead. usually short (20-30 words) tightly written covers the 5 w’s and H uses strong, active verbs.

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Mrs. Wobser

SHS Courier

the hard lead also called
The Hard Leadalso called...
  • AP summary lead
  • Summary lead
the hard lead
The Hard Lead
  • usually short (20-30 words)
  • tightly written
  • covers the 5 w’s and H
  • uses strong, active verbs

Sample Hard LeadEight foreign aid workers, including two Americans, held captive in Afghanistan for three months for preaching Christianity were airlifted to freedom Wednesday by U.S. military helicopters.

the soft lead also called
The Soft Leadalso called...
  • Novelty lead
  • Feature lead
types of soft leads
Types of Soft Leads
  • Setting
  • Anecdote
  • Question
  • Quotation
  • Zinger
setting lead
Setting Lead
  • uses vivid descriptive detail
  • uses concrete nouns
  • uses strong, active verbs
  • followed by a NUT GRAF

Sample Setting LeadJack Walden paused in the middle of a stand of dense brush, sweat soaking through his shirt and staining his leather shoulder holster. He looked up at a roaring helicopter just a few dozen feet overhead. A crewman leaning out the front door with a videocamera jabbed a thumb to the left. There, in a tiny clearing not five feet from Walden was the target of all the commotion: A single busy marijuana plant….


Sample Setting Lead (cont.)...For Walden, a detective with the Portage County Drug Task Force, it was a good ending to a long day. The task force, made up of officers from the Portage County Sheriff’s Department and the Ravenna, Kent and Aurora Police departments, confiscated about 80 plants Wednesday. The total street value: At least $100,000.(This is the NUT GRAF to follow the first grafs of the lead.)

anecdote lead like a story it has
Anecdote LeadLike a story, it has...
  • lots of descriptive detail
  • strong, active verbs
  • concrete nouns
  • sometimes, dialogue
  • is followed by a NUT GRAF

Sample Anecdote Lead“Oh, there must be another memorial here,” the woman said as she came upon the police barricade. There was no surprise in her voice, just acceptance. She looked up to see a milling crowd of firefighters in dress blues outside the grand St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The cop at the corner held out his arm to usher her through, and she continued up toward Central Park….


...Two months after the attacks here, mourning has settled into the rhythm of the city. As the woman continued on her way, others were stopping in the bright blue midtown Manhattan morning, finding a place on the sidewalk to watch somberly as yet another service began to unfold under the towering Gothic spires of the fabled cathedral near Rockefeller Center.(This is the NUT GRAF to follow the first grafs of the lead.)


Sample Anecdote LeadFor Josh Witsaman, tying his shoelaces at school Monday was about as easy as knotting two strands of slippery spaghetti. With his hands encased in a white sock and bound with masking tape, the 10-year-old from King Elementary School in Akron fumbled awkwardly at his simple task. His tongue would stick out and lips twist in excitement as he neared finishing a knot, only to see it fall apart in a tangled heap on his tennis shoe. “Oh, brother,” Josh sighed in frustration….


Sample Anecdote Lead (cont.)...His teacher, Diana Koltnow, wasn’t being a sadist, even though she bound the hands of her entire health class and challenged them to button a shirt and tie a shoe. Instead, Koltnow and Hope Carr of the Association for Retarded Citizens were trying to make the frustrations of the disabled real for the fourth-grade class.(This is the NUT GRAF to follow the first grafs of the lead.)

question lead
Question Lead
  • use sparingly -- journalists answer questions, not ask them

Sample Question LeadEver heard of William P. Barr? America’s taxpayers provide a car and driver to take him to work and back home, trailed by a wagon of armed men to protect him.(In a story about taxpayer money wasted on bureaucrats no one ever heard of.)

Sample Question LeadYes means yes and no means no. Yes? No.(In a story about the tricky wording of election issues.)
quotation lead
Quotation Lead
  • Should use sparingly
  • Must be absolutely spectacular quote
  • MUST be short and to the point

Sample Quotation Lead“Three months of making new friends, taking new steps, learning about a different culture and learning about yourself.”This is how Dillon Banerjee describes the Peace Corps training and overall experience in his book, So, You Want to Join the Peace Corps….


OSU graduate Alison Blosser found Banarjee’s words to be true when she served the Peace Corps recently in Turkmenistan. She shared her experiences with the Journalism I classes Nov. 5.(This is the NUT GRAF to follow the first grafs of the lead.)

zinger lead
Zinger Lead
  • grabs readers with a snappy or clever phrase
  • sometimes uses a play on words (pun)
  • particularly effective in highlighting the unlikely or seemingly absurd
  • MUST be kept short

Sample ZingerIt was dinner time at the Coliseum -- about 5 p.m. or so Wednesday. And beefcake-on-the-hoof was the dish du jour.(story about tryouts for American Gladiators t.v. show)


Sample ZingerRamona Williams died October 9 in a two-car crash in Willoughby. The 18-year-old was 21 weeks pregnant. Her baby is due in January.

sample zinger

Sample Zinger



(Story about the merging of two supermarket tabloid publishers, each with three publications.)


Sample Zinger and Nut GrafFirst, it was breast enhancement, then shaping up those thighs, and now it’s putting some plumpness back into the product. We’re talkin’ turkey, here!Professors at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster have been working more than 30 years to produce a more meaty turkey, said Karl Nestor, professor of animal science.

lead writing do s
Lead writing DO’s
  • Keep it short
  • Keep it simple
  • Use only familiar names in the lead
  • Use everyday language
  • Be concise
  • Use strong, active verbs
lead writing don ts
Lead-writing DON’Ts
  • Don’t use a full direct quote for a lead -- not enough context for it to make sense
  • Don’t use cliches or trite phrases
  • Don’t editorialize
  • Don’t write about what is NOT; write about what IS
  • Don’t write a label lead -- says something happened, but doesn’t say what