Leads, hooks and ties in professional writing

Scientific and business magazines do not develop in a linear fashion like a news report. These articles differ from a news report in that they need not provide background or justify assertions. These articles are subjective and tell describe to the readers what the writer wants to say about a topic.

A magazine article plunges straight into the description of the product or discovery without wasting too much time in building the background.

The scientific and business article, discusses, immediately showing its relevance to the interests or needs of the reader. It then goes on to present different angles of the topic, starting with the most important and continuing in lessening in importance. It may end abruptly, or with one or two sentences with a comment, opinion or evaluative remark to the preceding discussion.

A magazine reader wants to be slowly pulled into reading an article. The lead is the opening statement that should attract the reader to the article. Its job is to relate the main topic to the reader’s general interests and experience.

A hook is similar to a lead, although it is usually more ‘spicy’ or provocative than a lead. A hook is like a bait to tempt the reader to carry on reading. Avoid abstractions and technical jargon.

A good lead starts by stating a fact and then asking a question about this fact from the reader’s point of view. It then goes on to overview the specifics of what the article will discuss and ends with a statement on the purpose of the article.

Sometimes a short narrative is also used as a lead. The rest of the article is a detailed description of the topic to be discussed.

The tie is an optional device at the end of the article with a comment or question summing up the writer’s attitude towards the topic.