All articles must have an introductory section, called a lead, which gives context to the article. The lead should attempt to summarize the notability of the topic of the article, or to at least give a summary of what the article is about.

Leads should begin with the name of the article in bold, although some leeway is allowed for exact positioning of the bolded topic name, depending on sentence structure. If the article is about a subject which should be italicized, such as a book or episode title, then the topic name should be bolded and italicized, as confirmed by a recent forum discussion.

It might help at this point to look at a couple of lead beginnings.

'''''Happy Endings''''' was the 50th novel in the [[Virgin New Adventures]] series . . . 
Happy Endings was the 50th novel in the Virgin New Adventures series . . .
'''Tom Baker''' portrayed the [[Fourth Doctor]], amassing more episodes than any other actor who played [[the Doctor]].
Tom Baker portrayed the Fourth Doctor, amassing more episodes than any other actor who played the Doctor

Leads are vital parts of articles. Good, interesting leads draw the reader into an article. Leads also save readers' time, by allowing them to quickly decide whether they're reading about the topic for which they were searching. Articles lacking leads can be easily identified, since they usually have no body text above the automatically generated table of contents.

Leads can be of highly varying lengths, as some topics are simply more notable than others. In some cases, as at DWA 205, the lead is very short indeed, but it's entirely adequate to the ordinary issue that #205 was. In other cases, as at companion or Planet of Giants, there are many points that make the subject notable, and so the leads are longer. An interesting case study is that described by leads on story pages, in which our wiki community discussed the pros and cons of lead length.

Whatever one's views are on the "perfect" length of a lead, no matter whether the article is in- or out-of-universe, every article must have a lead.

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