By the way, that’s the correct spelling below of “lede” — the first sentence in a news story. Why isn’t it spelled “lead” — as in the lead part of a story?

Because back in the good ole days when newspapers were laid with metal pieces of type, the space between the lines of copy were filled in with blank strips of lead. If you wanted more space between the type, then you added more lead. Hence the typographic term “leading” to indicate vertical space between type.

If an editor writes on a proof sheet that an article has a bad “lead” — meaning the first sentence to the news story, then that could easily be confused with bad “lead” — the space between the type. So, some brilliant newspaperman long ago changed the spelling of “lead” to “lede.” Now everyone always knew whether the editor is referring to the first sentence or to vertical spacing.

Now you know. And that’s the type of trivia you get when you sign up for Duffy’s Intro to News Writing.