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Definition

lede

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A lede is the introductory part of an article, which may be the first sentence or as much as a paragraph. 

The purpose of the lede is to engage the reader. To do that, it may summarize the content, provide necessary background information or make a provocative statement, among other possibilities. 

"Lede" rhymes with "feed." The word is an archaic form of "lead" that is now only used in journalism. The alternate spelling may have been chosen to differentiate it from the standard one, which in the past referred to a thin metal strip used in typesetting.

"Lede" is just one example of an alternative spelling used in journalism. Following are the parts that make up the whole of an article, listed in order: 

  • Hed is an abbreviated variant of headline.
  • Dek stands for declaration. It's a brief summary of the content that may coexist with or replace the lede.
  • Lede, short for "lead-in," is the compelling introduction designed to make the reader want to continue. 
  • Nut graf, a paragraph (graf) that gives the "nutshell" summary of the article. 
  • Body, the main text of the article.
  • Kicker, the end of the article. The last sentence or so is designed to wrap up the article in a way that will help the reader absorb the content and possibly continue to think about it. 

Within journalism, there is some disagreement over whether "lede" or the standard spelling, "lead," is preferable. 

 

This was last updated in August 2013

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