Most news stories are written in inverted pyramid form, which means the most important information goes first and the least important information goes last. The broadest art of the pyramid is the lede, containing the most important information. This type of lede is often called a summary lede.
A SUMMARY LEDE IS:
- One sentence…
- that summarizes* the news…
- in 25-30 words.
- Attribution, if needed, goes at the end unless the person’s prominence is key.
- The time element, if needed, usually goes after the verb or direct object. It does not start the sentence.
- Leave out details (exact time, date, location)
- Leave out proper nouns unless widely known
- Use broad categories instead (An English professor… Three OU administrators… )
SUMMARY LEDE EXAMPLE:
SGA leaders have scratched plans to set up booths along the South Oval to showcase each decade of the student association’s 40-year history.
- One sentence
- 23 words
- Focuses on the news (a change in plans)
- Summarizes by not naming leaders or specifying decades.
- Proper names (SGA and South Oval) are widely known.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
- Follow the summary lede with a “fact graf.”
- Include items not in lede (speaker’s name, location of fire, time of arrest, etc.) that add detail.
- The second graf often supplies attribution for information in the lede.
- Generally, do not follow the summary lede with a quote.
EXAMPLE OF A FACT GRAF:
The booths were supposed to be up all last week, but the ice storm that canceled classes also canceled that plan, said Katie Fox, SGA president.