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The lead section (also known as the lead or introduction) of a Wikipedia article is the "section before the "table of contents and the first "heading. The lead serves as an introduction to the article and a summary of its most important contents. It is not a news-style "lead or "lede" paragraph.

The average Wikipedia visit is a few minutes.[1] The lead is the first part of the article that most people will read. A good lead tells the reader the basics in a nutshell, and also cultivates the reader's interest in reading more of the article, but not by teasing the reader or hinting at content that follows. The lead should be written in a clear, accessible style with a "neutral point of view.

The lead should stand on its own as a concise overview of the article's topic. It should identify the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is notable, and summarize the most important points, including any prominent controversies.[2] The notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences. Like in the body of the article itself, the emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly "reflect its importance to the topic, according to "reliable, published sources. Apart from basic facts, significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article.

As a general "rule of thumb, a lead section should contain no more than four well-composed paragraphs and be carefully sourced as appropriate.


Elements of the lead[edit]


As explained in more detail below, the lead section may contain optional elements presented in the following order: disambiguation links (dablinks/hatnotes), maintenance tags, infoboxes, foreign character warning boxes, images, navigational boxes (navigational templates), introductory text, and table of contents, moving to the heading of the first section.

Structure of lead section:

{{Copy edit}}
{{Infobox rocket|name=...}}
{{Contains special characters}}
[[File:TypicalRocket.gif|...|A typical rocket]] or {{Rocket Navigation}}
A '''rocket''' is a ...

<!--Unless suppressed or modified via special syntax, or the article has fewer than four section headings, the table of contents is automatically generated at this point.-->

==First section==



The lead must conform to "verifiability, "biographies of living persons, and other policies. The verifiability policy advises that material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, and direct quotations, should be supported by an "inline citation. Any statements about living persons that are challenged or likely to be challenged must have an inline citation every time they are mentioned, including within the lead.

Because the lead will usually repeat information that is in the body, editors should balance the desire to avoid redundant citations in the lead with the desire to aid readers in locating sources for challengeable material. Leads are usually written at a greater level of generality than the body, and information in the lead section of non-controversial subjects is less likely to be challenged and less likely to require a source; there is not, however, an exception to citation requirements specific to leads. The necessity for citations in a lead should be determined on a case-by-case basis by editorial "consensus. Complex, current, or controversial subjects may require many citations; others, few or none. The presence of citations in the introduction is neither required in every article nor prohibited in any article.

Introductory text[edit]


Provide an accessible overview[edit]

The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article. The reason for a topic's noteworthiness should be established, or at least introduced, in the lead (but not by using subjective ""peacock terms" such as "acclaimed" or "award-winning" or "hit"). It is even more important here than in the rest of the article that the text be accessible. Editors should avoid lengthy paragraphs and overly specific descriptions – greater detail is saved for the body of the article. Consideration should be given to creating interest in the article, but do not hint at startling facts without describing them.

In general, introduce useful abbreviations, but avoid difficult-to-understand "terminology and symbols. Mathematical equations and formulas should be avoided when they conflict with the goal of making the lead section accessible to as broad an audience as possible. Where uncommon terms are essential, they should be placed in context, linked and briefly defined. The subject should be placed in a context familiar to a normal reader. For example, it is better to describe the location of a town with reference to an area or larger place than with coordinates. Readers should not be dropped into the middle of the subject from the first word; they should be eased into it.

Relative emphasis[edit]


According to "the policy on due weight, emphasis given to material should reflect its relative importance to the subject, according to published "reliable sources. This is true for both the lead and the body of the article. If there is a difference in emphasis between the two, editors should seek to resolve the discrepancy. Significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article, although not everything in the lead must be repeated in the body of the text. Exceptions include specific facts such as quotations, examples, birth dates, taxonomic names, case numbers, and titles. This admonition should not be taken as a reason to exclude information from the lead, but rather to harmonize coverage in the lead with material in the body of the article.

Opening paragraph[edit]


The first paragraph should "define or identify the topic with a "neutral point of view, but without being too specific. It should establish the context in which the topic is being considered by supplying the set of circumstances or facts that surround it. If appropriate, it should give the location and time. It should also establish the boundaries of the topic; for example, the lead for the article "List of environmental issues succinctly states that the list covers "harmful aspects of human activity on the biophysical environment".

First sentence[edit]


The first sentence should tell the nonspecialist reader what, or who, the subject is.

Format of the first sentence[edit]


If an "article's title is a formal or widely accepted name for the subject, display it in bold as early as possible in the first sentence.

This is also done, at the first occurrence in running text, of a term that is "redirected to the article or one of its subsections, whether the term appears in the lead or not:

The electron is a "subatomic particle with a negative "elementary "electric charge. ("Electron)

Otherwise, include the title if it can be accommodated in normal English:

Succession to the British throne is determined by descent, gender, legitimacy, and religion. ("Succession to the British throne)


Only the first occurrence of the title and significant "alternative titles (which should usually also "redirect to the article) are placed in bold:

Mumbai, also known as Bombay, is the capital of the "Indian state of "Maharashtra. ("Mumbai)

Common abbreviations (in parentheses) are considered significant alternative names in this sense:

The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), also known as the Petrucci Music Library after publisher "Ottaviano Petrucci, is a ... ("International Music Score Library Project)

If an article is about an event involving a subject about which there is no main article, especially if the article is the "target of a redirect, the subject should be in bold:

Green check.svg Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain (11 June 1980 – 17 August 1980) was an Australian baby girl who was killed by a dingo on the night of 17 August 1980 on a family camping trip to Uluru (at that date known as Ayers Rock) in the Northern Territory. ("Death of Azaria Chamberlain, redirected from Azaria Chamberlain)

Avoid these common mistakes[edit]

Links should not be placed in the "boldface reiteration of the title in the opening sentence of a lead:[12][13]

Red x.svg The "Babe Ruth Award is given annually to the "Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the best performance in the "postseason.

Green check.svg The Babe Ruth Award is given annually to the "Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the best performance in the "postseason. The award, created in honor of "Babe Ruth, was first awarded in 1949 to the MVP of the "World Series, one year after Ruth's death.

If the article's title does not lend itself to being used easily and naturally in the opening sentence, the wording should not be distorted in an effort to include it. Instead, simply describe the subject in normal English, avoiding redundancy.

Red x.svg The 2011 Mississippi River floods were a series of "floods affecting the "Mississippi River in April and May 2011, which were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the "U.S. waterway in the past century. ("2011 Mississippi River floods)

Green check.svg The "Mississippi River floods in April and May 2011 were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the "U.S. waterway in the past century. ("2011 Mississippi River floods)


In general, if the article's title is absent from the first sentence, do not apply the bold style to related text that does appear:

Red x.svg The Beatles' rise to prominence in the United States on February 7, 1964, was a significant development in the history of the "band's commercial success. ("The Beatles in the United States)

Green check.svg "The Beatles' rise to prominence in the United States in February 1964 was a significant development in the history of the band's commercial success. ("The Beatles in the United States)

(Disambiguation pages, however, use bolding for "the link to the primary topic, if there is one.)

Proper names and titles[edit]

If the title of the page is normally "italicized (for example, a work of art, literature, album, or ship) then its first mention should be both bold and italic text; if it is usually surrounded by quotation marks, the title should be bold but the quotation marks should not be:

Las Meninas (Spanish for The Maids of Honour) is a 1656 painting by "Diego Velázquez, ...

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ("Italian: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) is a 1966 Italian "epic "Spaghetti western film ...

"Yesterday" is a "pop song originally recorded by "the Beatles for their 1965 album "Help!

Foreign language[edit]

If the subject of the article is closely associated with a non-English language, a single foreign language equivalent name can be included in the lead sentence, usually in parentheses. For example, an article about a location in a non-English-speaking country will typically include the local language equivalent:

Chernivtsi Oblast ("Ukrainian: Чернівецька область, Chernivets’ka oblast’) is an "oblast (province) in western "Ukraine, bordering on "Romania and "Moldova.

Do not include foreign equivalents in the lead sentence just to show etymology.

Do not boldface foreign names not normally used in English. Some foreign terms should be italicized. These cases are described in the "Manual of Style for text formatting.

The Inuit (plural; pronounced "/ˈɪnjuɪt/; "Inuktitut: ᐃᓄᐃᑦ, "the people") are a group of culturally similar "indigenous peoples inhabiting the "Arctic regions of "Greenland, "Canada and "Alaska ...


If the name of the article has a pronunciation that's not apparent from its spelling, include its "pronunciation in parentheses after the first occurrence of the name. Most such terms are foreign words or phrases ("mate, "coup d'état), proper nouns ("Ralph Fiennes, "Tuolumne River, "Tao Te Ching), or very unusual English words ("synecdoche, "atlatl). Do not include pronunciations for names of foreign countries whose pronunciations are well known in English ("France, "Poland). Do not include them for common English words with pronunciations that might be counterintuitive for learners ("laughter, "sword). If the name of the article is more than one word, include pronunciation only for the words that need it unless all are foreign (all of "Jean van Heijenoort but only Cholmondeley in "Thomas P. G. Cholmondeley). A fuller discussion of pronunciation can come later in the article.

Contextual links[edit]

The opening sentence should provide links to the broader or more elementary topics that are important to the article's topic or place it into the "context where it is "notable.

For example, an article about a building or location should include a link to the broader geographical area of which it is a part.

Arugam Bay is a "bay on the "Indian Ocean in the dry zone of "Sri Lanka's southeast coast.

In an article about a technical or jargon term, the opening sentence or paragraph should normally contain a link to the "field of study that the term comes from.

In "heraldry, tinctures are the colours used to "emblazon a "coat of arms.

The "first sentence of an article about a person should link to the page or pages about the topic where the person achieved prominence.

Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. (July 12, 1934 – February 27, 2013) was an American "pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at age 23, when he won the first quadrennial "International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the "Cold War.

Exactly what provides the context needed to understand a given topic varies greatly from topic to topic.

The Gemara is the component of the "Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the "Mishnah.

Do not, however, add contextual links that don't relate directly to the topic's definition or reason for notability. For example, "Van Cliburn's opening sentence links to "Cold War because his fame came partly from his Tchaikovsky Competition victory being used as a Cold War symbol. The first sentence of a page about someone who rose to fame in the 1950s for reasons unrelated to the Cold War should not mention the Cold War at all, even though the Cold War is part of the broader historical context of that person's life. By the same token, "do not link to years unless the year has some special salience to the topic.

Links appearing ahead of the bolded term distract from the topic if not necessary to establish context, and should be omitted even if they might be appropriate elsewhere in the text. For example, a person's title or office, such as colonel, naturally appears ahead of their name, but the word "Colonel" should not have a link, since it doesn't establish context. Do not, however, reword a sentence awkwardly just to keep a needed contextual link from getting ahead of the bolded term.

Colonel Charles Hotham (died 1738) was a special "British envoy entrusted by "George II with the task of negotiating a double marriage between the "Hanover and "Hohenzollern dynasties.


When a common (vernacular) name is used as the article title, the boldfaced common name is followed by the italic un-boldfaced scientific name in round parentheses in the opening sentence of the lead. Alternative names should be mentioned and reliably sourced in the text where applicable, with bold type in the lead if they are in wide use, or elsewhere in the article (with or without the bold type, per editorial discretion) if they are less used. It is not necessary to include non-English common names, unless they are also commonly used in English, e.g. regionally; if included, they should be italicized as non-English.

When the article title is the scientific name, reverse the order of the scientific and common name(s) (if any of the latter are given), and boldface as well as italicize the scientific name.

Scope of article[edit]

In some cases the definition of the article topic in the opening paragraph may be insufficient to fully constrain the scope of the article. In particular, it may be necessary to identify material that is not within scope. For instance, the article on "fever notes that an elevated core body temperature due to "hyperthermia is not within scope. These explanations may best be done at the end of the lead to avoid cluttering and confusing the first paragraph. This information and other meta material in the lead is not expected to appear in the body of the article.

Biographies of living persons[edit]


When writing about controversies in the lead of the biography of a living person, notable material should neither be suppressed nor allowed to overwhelm: always pay scrupulous attention to reliable sources, and make sure the lead correctly reflects the entirety of the article. Write clinically, and let the facts speak for themselves.

Well-publicized recent events affecting a subject, whether controversial or not, should be kept in historical perspective. What is most recent is not necessarily what is most notable: new information should be carefully balanced against old, with "due weight accorded to each. When a subject dies, the lead need not be radically reworked. Unless the cause of death is itself a reason for notability, a single sentence describing the death is usually sufficient.

Alternative names[edit]

The "article title appears at the top of a reader's browser window and as a large level 1 heading above the editable text of an article, circled here in dark red. The name or names given in the first sentence does not always match the article title. This page gives advice on the contents of the first sentence, not the article title.

By the design of Wikipedia's software, an article can have only one title. When this title is a name, significant alternative names for the topic should be mentioned in the article, usually in the first sentence or paragraph. These may include alternative spellings, longer or shorter forms, historical names, and significant names in other languages. Indeed, alternative names can be used in article text in contexts where they are more appropriate than the name used as the title of the article. For example, the city now called ""Gdańsk" can be referred to as "Danzig" in suitable historical contexts. The editor needs to balance the desire to maximize the information available to the reader with the need to maintain readability.

Non-English titles[edit]

Although Wikipedia's naming conventions "recommend the use of English, there are instances where the subject of an article is best known in English-speaking sources by its non-English name. In this case, the non-English title may be appropriate for the article.

Usage in first sentence[edit]


The title can be followed in the first line by one or two alternative names in "parentheses (but see "Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names) for special guidelines for place names). The following are examples of names that may be included parenthetically, although inclusion should reflect "consensus.

The name of a person is presented in full if known, including any given names that were abbreviated or omitted in the article's title. For example, the article on "Calvin Coolidge gives his name as John Calvin Coolidge Jr.

If a person is commonly known by a "nickname that is not a common "hypocorism (diminutive) of their name,[14] used in lieu of a given name, it is presented between quote marks following the last given name or initial, as for "Bunny Berigan, which has Roland Bernard "Bunny" Berigan. The quotation marks are not put in bold.

If a person has a well-known common "hypocorism, used in lieu of a given name,[14] it is not presented between quote marks following the last given name or initial, as for "Tom Hopper which has just Thomas Edward Hopper. Also acceptable are formulations like "Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli", when applicable.


Consider footnoting foreign-language and archaic names if they would otherwise clutter the opening sentence.[15]

Separate section usage[edit]

If there are three or more alternative names, or if there is something notable about the names themselves, they may be moved to and discussed in a separate section with a title such as "Names" or "Etymology". Once such a section or paragraph is created, the alternative English or foreign names should not be moved back to the first line. As an exception, a local official name different from a widely accepted English name should be retained in the lead.


Where the article is a "stub and has no section headings, a lead may not be necessary. Although Wikipedia encourages expanding stubs, this may be impossible if reliably sourced information is not available. Once an article has been sufficiently expanded, generally to around 400 or 500 words, editors should consider introducing section headings and removing the stub classification.



The appropriate length of the lead section depends on the total "length of the article. As a general guideline—but not absolute rule—the lead should usually be no longer than four paragraphs. The length of the lead should conform to readers' expectations of a short, but useful and complete, summary of the topic. A lead that is too short leaves the reader unsatisfied; a lead that is too long is intimidating, difficult to read, and may cause the reader to lose interest halfway. The following suggestions about lead length may be useful ("article length" refers to "readable prose size):

Article length Lead length
Fewer than 15,000 characters One or two paragraphs
15,000–30,000 characters Two or three paragraphs
More than 30,000 characters Three or four paragraphs

Lead sections that reflect or expand on sections in other articles are discussed at "Summary style. Journalistic conventions for lead sections are discussed at "News style.

Editing the lead section[edit]

By default, there is no [edit] link for the lead section, but registered users can get them by enabling one or both of the following "preferences (both require JavaScript):

Comparison to the news-style lead[edit]

Wikipedia leads are not written in "news style. Although there are some similarities, such as putting the most important information first and making it possible for any reader to understand the subject even if they only read the lead, there are some important differences. The "lead paragraph (sometimes spelled "lede") of newspaper journalism is a very compressed summary of only the most important facts about a story. These basic facts are sometimes referred to as the ""five Ws": who, what, when, where, and why. Journalistic leads normally are only one or two sentences long. By contrast, in Wikipedia articles, the first sentence is usually more similar to a definition, the lead is longer, and it ultimately provides far more information, as its purpose is to summarize the article, not just introduce it.

Comparison of journalistic and encyclopedic leads
Journalistic lead Encyclopedic lead
"Toxic gas leaking from an American-owned insecticide plant in central India killed at least 410 people overnight, many as they slept, officials said today. At least 12,000 were reported injured in the disaster in the city of Bhopal, 2,000 of whom were hospitalized."
Hazarika, Sanjoy (3 December 1984) "Gas leak in city kills at least 410 in city of Bhopal" The New York Times
The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a "gas leak incident in India, considered "the world's worst "industrial disaster. It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the "Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) "pesticide plant in "Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to "methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the "shanty towns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The "government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

No teasers[edit]


Tabloid, magazine, and broadcast news leads may have "teasers" that intentionally omit some crucial details to entice readers to read or watch the full story. They may even "bury the lead" by hiding the most important facts. This style should never be used on Wikipedia.


For a list of template messages related to the clean-up of lead sections, see "Wikipedia:Template messages/Cleanup#Introduction. Editors are encouraged to improve leads rather than simply tag them.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alexa reports the average Wikipedia user spends 4 minutes 15 seconds on the site. "wikipedia.org Traffic Statistics" See also "Top 100 Websites"
  2. ^ Do not violate "WP:Neutral point of view by giving undue attention to less important controversies in the lead section.
  3. ^ For example:

    This Manual of Style is a "style guide containing ...


    This "style guide, known as the Manual of Style, contains ...

  4. ^ For example, in the article ""United Kingdom":

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain, is a "sovereign "island country located off the north-western coast of "continental Europe.

  5. ^ For example, use:

    An egg is an ovum produced by ...


    An egg (food) is an ovum produced by ...

  6. ^ For example, instead of:

    A trusted third party is an entity that facilitates interactions between two parties who both trust the third party.


    In "cryptography, a trusted third party is an entity that facilitates interactions between two parties who both trust the third party.

  7. ^ For example, instead of

    Pakistani–Iraqi relations are the relations between "Pakistan and "Iraq.[1]


    "Iraq and "Pakistan established "diplomatic relations in 1947.[2]

    Remember that the title need not always appear in the lead if the article title is descriptive, and in any case the statement relations are relations does not help a reader who does not know the meaning of diplomatic relations. In this case, the editor of the second version sensibly opted to include new information (that relations were established in 1947) in the first sentence, rather than repeating the title.

    Sometimes a little redundancy is unavoidable. The "Oxford English Dictionary has to be called by its proper name in its article, and cannot be called anything other than a dictionary in the first sentence. Even in these cases, the first sentence must provide information not given in the title. But try to rephrase whenever possible. Instead of:

    The Oxford English Dictionary [...] is a comprehensive dictionary of the English language.[3]


    The Oxford English Dictionary [...] is the premier dictionary of the English language.[4]

    Both contain some redundancy, but the second is better because it tells us that the OED is the world's most respected dictionary of English. Again, someone who knows what the word dictionary means will probably assume that any dictionary is comprehensive, so they do not need to be told that.

  8. ^ For example:

    Camping is an "outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter ...


    Camping refers to an "outdoor activity involving overnight stays ...

  9. ^ For example:

    Irregardless is a word sometimes used in place of regardless or irrespective ...


    Irregardless is a word sometimes used ...

  10. ^ For example:

    Amalie Emmy Noether "[ˈnøːtɐ] (23 March 1882 – 14 April 1935) was a German "mathematician known for her groundbreaking contributions to "abstract algebra and her contributions to "theoretical physics.

    This example not only tells the reader that the subject was a mathematician, it also indicates her field of expertise and work she did outside of it. The years of her birth and death provide time context. The reader who goes no further in this article already knows when she lived, what work she did, and why she is notable. ("Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies has more on the specific format for biography articles.)

  11. ^ For example:

    Homer Simpson is a fictional character in The Simpsons.

  12. ^ Many, but not all, articles repeat the article title in bold face in the first line of the article. Linking the article to itself produces boldface text; this practice is discouraged as page moves will result in a useless circular link through a redirect. Linking part of the bolded text is also discouraged because it changes the visual effect of bolding; some readers will miss the visual cue which is the purpose of using bold face in the first place.
  13. ^ Disambiguation pages are navigational aides rather than articles and where there is a primary topic for a term, the introductory line for that term's disambiguation page does typically have that term both linked and bolded; see "MOS:DABPRIMARY
  14. ^ a b As a guide to what is a "common" hypocorism, consider consulting the "Hypocorism#English subsections "Shortening, often to the first syllable" and "Addition of a diminutive suffix..."; consider treating names listed in the in "A short form that differs significantly from the name" subsection as non-hypocoristic nicknames, depending on the particular case (a few short forms that differ significantly from the name are well known common hypocorisms, such as "Bob" for "Robert", but most are not). Consider assuming that most non-English hypocorisms are not familiar to readers of this English Wikipedia, even if well known in their native culture.
  15. ^ For example, the lead from "Genghis Khan at one time read:
    Genghis Khan (English pronunciation:"/ˈɡɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/ or "/ˈɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/;"[1]"[2]; "Cyrillic: Чингис Хаан, Chingis Khaan, IPA: "[tʃiŋɡɪs xaːŋ] (""About this sound listen); "Mongol script: ""Cinggis qagan.svg, Činggis Qaɣan; "Chinese: 成吉思汗; "pinyin: Chéng Jí Sī Hán; probably May 31, 1162"[3] – August 25, 1227), born Temujin (English pronunciation: "/təˈmɪn/; "Mongolian: Тэмүжин, Temüjin IPA: "[tʰemutʃiŋ] (""About this sound listen); "Middle Mongolian: Temüjin;"[4] "traditional Chinese: 鐵木真; "simplified Chinese: 铁木真; "pinyin: Tiě mù zhēn) and also known by the "temple name Taizu ("Chinese: 元太祖; "pinyin: Yuán Tàizǔ; "Wade–Giles: T'ai-Tsu), was the founder and "Great Khan (emperor) of the "Mongol Empire, which became the "largest contiguous empire in history after his death.
    This was later reduced to the following:
    Genghis Khan ("/ˈɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/, often pronounced "/ˈɡɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/; "Mongolian: Чингис хаан, Çingis hán; Mongolian pronunciation: "[t͡ʃʰiŋɡɪs xaːŋ] (""About this sound listen), c. 1162 – August 18, 1227), born Temüjin, was the founder and "Great Khan (Emperor) of the "Mongol Empire, which became the "largest contiguous empire in history after his death.
) ) WikipediaAudio is not affiliated with Wikipedia or the WikiMedia Foundation.