Writing:Introductory section of a state legislative profile

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This page is a content-and-style guide about how to write the introductory (lead) section of articles about incumbent state legislators and candidates for state legislature.

The introductory, or lead, section of the article should briefly summarize core information about the state legislator/candidate covering these areas:

  • Current political post, if he or she is not an incumbent.
  • Seat the person is currently running for, if applicable, including name of legislative chamber, district number or description, and date of election.
  • Partisan affiliation.
  • Brief recap of political history.
  • Brief recap of career outside of politics, if applicable, including current position/job.
  • Brief recap of educational background.
  • If the person is particularly notable for something, this should be mentioned in the introduction.

The lead section is essentially a brief biography of the person, with an emphasis on their political situation and current political seat or aspirations.


The introductory section should also include an infobox. The infobox will ideally include a photograph of the incumbent or candidate, although photos can only be included:

  • If the photograph is available under some form of copyleft licensing.
  • If the photograph is in the public domain.
  • If you specifically obtain permission to use the photo from the copyright holder.

See Ballotpedia:Image permissions for a list by state of which images of legislators can legally be uploaded and used on Ballotpedia.


The introduction of each state legislative profile should describe the person's current or most recent political position. It is recommended that writers use the provided templates for this sentence.

For incumbents:

For candidates:

  • Candidates who have unsuccessfully run for office in the past should have that information detailed in the introduction.

The lead section should also include brief recaps of the person's prior political history, career outside of politics and educational background. For many people, these brief recaps would each take its own short 2-3 sentence paragraph.

If the subject of the article has a particularly complex political, career or educational history that cannot be covered in the brief recap format, you can create a section of the article just to talk about that particular aspect of the person.

The brief recaps should be straightforward recitations of the basic facts of the person's political history, career or educational background.

Political leanings

If the person's political leanings are such that they have drawn comment from the press or reliable observers, this information can be included in the lead section, and expanded on in the "policy positions" section of the article.

For example, you might indicate in the lead section information such as:

  • "John Doe is widely regarded as one of the most fiscally conservative members of the state senate."
  • "John Doe is widely regarded as a leading force with the progressive caucus in the state assembly."
  • The (state newspaper) ranked John Doe as the most liberal member of the state senate in each of the last 5 senate sessions."


See also