How To Format A Script - Part 1

So, you're going to write a script. Where do you start? What tools do you need? What do you need to know? Are there a clear-cut rules?Hopefully I'm going to prepare you for your very own scriptwriting adventure, and in the right way!

Welcome to the first of a two-part post. In this post we're going to cover the following areas of script writing: title pages, formatting (margins, font, bolding, underline, etc.), and scriptwriting programs.

Title Page

When writing a title page, there are aren't many things you can get wrong.

In all cases of scripts, the title page will be always: Title, Format, Author(s), Based on (if any), and Copyright.

THE CONTENTS OF THIS DOCUMENT ARE PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL TITLE (working title) An Original Screenplay by Author Name and Another Author Name Based on Title of novel or theatre play
Draft Number Copyright 2011 Copyright Holder Address of Holder Tel: 555-555-555

As you can see it's pretty basic but let's break down the parts.

The top section of THE CONTENTS OF THIS DOCUMENT ARE PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL can be omitted if wished, and most likely if a production script. You would normally use this text if it were still in development, and you were asking for feedback. To better secure your idea, from possible thieves, the line is an agreement that it is for the eyes of who you only seek.

The TITLE is whatever you wish to call the film. Always try to be clever about it, but don't stress to much as it normally will change by the producer or studio. The sub-text (working title) is only there if you haven't decided on a title you're happy with.

An Original Screenplay by is a changeable text. If you are basing it upon another source it would be easier to write Screenplay by or simply by. If you are writing a short, A Short Film written by is okay to use too.

The Draft Number is only included if a draft, otherwise it is omitted. Underneath you write the copyright year underneath, followed by the copyright holder's name and contact details. For original ideas, this would be you, and for scripts you sell it would be the now owner of the script. You can include as much information as you would like, but generally it is just your name, address, and contact number(s).


Your script should have a 2.5cm (1") margin from the top, right, and bottom sides. The left side margin preferably would be 3.9cm (1.5") for larger scripts that would be bound on that side. The font used should be Courier 12pt.

Scene headings should be uppercase, and numbered on both sides. Scene numbers generally sit outside of the main text (about 1.3cm) - please refer to the provided script samples at the end of this post.

Action text or Big Print should be left aligned - character names vary from film and television, so please refer to the final post which will help you on this account.

Dialogue should be indented 3.4cm (1.3") from the left, and right hand sides. The alignment should be left as well. Character names should lie above the dialogue in uppercase and sit 5.4cm (2.1") from the left hand margin. Voice overs by narrators, telephone conversations, or other authoritative figures will have a (V.O.) next to their dialogue name. If the line delivered is in the same location, just the character is not intended to be on screen an (O.S.) - for Off Screen - should be used.

If you are intending to tell the actor or actress how the line should be delivered, the use of parenthetical lines should be used. To use this below the character's name and above the dialogue, in lowercase and in brackets the direction should be stated. It is 4.4cm (1.7") from the left margin.

If a character's dialogue is split between action lines, a (CONT'D) should be put on the following lines. If the character is split by another character or a new scene the continued should not be added.

Never split dialogue over two pages, nor sentences. If it need to go over the page either shift the entire section down, or use the (MORE) at the bottom of the page and (CONT'D) at the top next to the character's name. This goes the same for action lines, where a (CONTINUED) is used at the bottom and a CONTINUED: at the top.

Scriptwriting Programmes

This section is a little outdated, but I'm sure some of the script writing software is still viable options. The industry has had these standards for many years, so software won't become obsolete that easy

There are heaps of scriptwriting programmes out there in the internet. Some are clear cut winners, others just need some TLC.

Adobe StoryWindows
CeltXOnline, Windows, macOS, iOS
Final DraftWindows, macOS
FiveSprocketsOnline, Windows
Movie Magic ScreenwriterWindows, macOS
Movie OutlineWindows, macOS
Page2StageOnline, Windows, macOS
ScrivenerWindows, macOS
Microsoft WordWindows, macOS

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