WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HEADLINE AND A LEAD?
Leads are broadcast scripts meant to be read out loud. Therefore, it must be written conversationally. Leads, like all scripts, are written in all caps. These air during a newscast in regular scripts. Leads and regular scripts should not be written in false present tense.
Headlines are meant to be read in web or print. They are not meant to be spoken so they are not complete sentences. Headlines are upper-lower case. Headlines use false present tense.
Headline: Wife of Miami Dolphins player breaks through police barricade to headbutt an officer and is arrested on multiple charges.
Lead: THE WIFE OF A MIAMI DOLPHINS PLAYER IS UNDER ARREST AFTER BREAKING THROUGH A POLICE BARRICADE AND HEAD-BUTTING AN OFFICER.
Note: If you make it new, now, next, you can turn a headline, into a conversational broadcast news lead.
Headline: Football player’s wife arrested for headbutting officer.
Lead: A FOOTBALL PLAYER’S WIFE IS UNDER ARREST FOR HEAD-BUTTING AN OFFICER.
Some scripts like show opens, teases, and promos are not always written in complete sentences, even though they are meant to be read out loud. Show opens are at the beginning of the show, teases air at the end of each block to get viewers to keep watching during the commercial break. Show opens and teases may use false present tense.
Here are a couple examples of show open writing. Even though they are also sometimes called “headlines” these are broadcast headlines, which have different writing styles than web/print headlines.