Lead vs. lede: Does it even matter?

Journalism isn’t always this trivial—or shouldn’t be—but renewed debate among editors and writers on which spelling of the word is correct is a reminder of what’s most important.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Credit the great Romenesko (via Bleacher Report) for rehashing this age-old debate on whether to refer to the first sentence of an article as the “lead” or, harkening back to the days of linotype, “lede.”

Howard Owens explains:

“Some years ago, researching the evolution of ‘objective journalism,’ I cracked open many of these old books, and something struck me — in none of these old books did any author spell the word ‘lede.’ They all spell it ‘lead.’

“It was then I realized, there is no historic basis for the spelling of a lead as ‘lede.’ ‘Lede’ is an invention of linotype romanticists, not something used in newsrooms of the linotype era.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.