Lead writing tips

Checklist for Leads

Does the first word or phrase tell the most important idea in the story?
Does the lead begin with specific, interest-arousing words?
Is the WHO told, with the full name and a descriptive title or phrase included?
Is the WHAT and WHAT HAPPENED up to date, emphasizing the current or future angle?
Are the WHEN and WHERE answered in the lead but subordinated to more important information?
Are the HOW and WHY given a prominent place in the lead, if appropriate?
If the lead is 30 words or more, has it been broken into two sentences or paragraphs for easier reading?

Does the lead catch the spirit of the story? Does it create the proper tone, such as serious or light?
Is the lead free from spelling, style and grammar errors?
Are all names spelled correctly?
BY BOBBY HAWTHORNE
Former Director, Interscholastic League Press Conference

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