These are the 6 Types of Leads in Journalism

When you start writing in a journalistic context, it is essential to remember the difference between “leads” and “sources.”


Although these terms are often used interchangeably, a lead is an opening paragraph of what gets written. The source is where the journalist obtains the information.

If someone says, “I’ve got a lead on a story,” that is different than the types of leads that go into the final piece.

These are the different types of leads you’ll find journalists writing each day to convey stories, profiles, and current events.

What Are the Different Types of Leads in Journalism?

1. Single-Item Leads

This structure focuses on a single element in a summary. The goal of this introduction is to create a strong hook that encourages the reader to follow.

2. Summary Leads

Most reporters use this option because it provides a quick summary of what to expect in the rest of the article. It uses as few words as possible while answering the six essential questions of journalism: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

3. Creative Leads

Most profile pieces use this lead option because it captures immediate interest in a person, organization, or community story. It focuses on the details of the subject matter to help the reader start building a relationship with the writing.

4. Analogy Leads

Reporters use this lead when writing to create comparisons between news events and something else a reader might understand. “The explosion at the chemical factory was like a nuclear bomb exploding,” would be an example of this option.

5. Short-Sentence Leads

The goal of this lead is to use a short phrase or a single work as a teaser. Journalists use the rest of the information later in the piece to keep the reader engaged. Although it seems gimmicky at times, this structure works well in print if the editor runs the story on two different pages.

6. Delayed Identification Leads

This option is used quite frequently by journalists because it identifies the critical elements of a story before identifying the participants involved. It sets up the reporting throughout the remainder of the piece by introducing the reader to what happened.