Proper Script Format

Script format is very particular and I would strongly advise you pick up David Trottier’s Screenwriter’s Bible to answer all of your formatting questions. Proper screenplay format is:

12 pt. Courier (or Courier New) font.

90-120 pages in length.

3 hole punched on the left-hand side.

Bound with two brass brads (not three) that are 1 1/4” or 1 1/2” in length (not 1” or 2”). No staples, clips or other fancy bindings.

Use card stock covers.

Free of anything extra designed to add a little flair (eg - images, colored paper, fancy covers, fancy fonts etc…)

1.5 inch margin on the left side.

1 inch margin on the right side.

Dialogue margins an additional 1.5 inches in from each side.

No special text (eg - bold, italics, underlining). If you choose to break this rule, do not do so more than three times in a single screenplay.

No date on your spec script. Only shooting scripts have dates.

No character list/set list/locations list. These are for shooting scripts only.

FADE IN: starts your script.

FADE OUT. ends your script.

Slug lines are as follows: INT. TOM'S HOUSE - DAY or EXT. BACKYARD (FLASHBACK) - NIGHT

Character names in CAPS, just above dialogue (no space in between).

When dialogue runs onto the next page, repeat the character name and use (CONT'D).

Do not include CONTINUED, MORE or CUT TO at the bottom of every page.

Do not number scenes. This is for shooting scripts only.

Do not use camera directions (CLOSEUP, POV) unless absolutely essential to comprehending the story. If used, do so extremely sparingly.

Never reference the camera directly (eg - the camera pans left or the camera tracks her hand down to his thigh).

Only include what can be seen and heard.

Do not use the phrases "we see" or "we hear". Everything on the page is what we see and hear.

I know this format may seem ridiculously particular, but there is a method to the madness. Formatting standards were created for the purpose of script timing. When a script is put into production the schedule is planned with the assumption that one page of a screenplay will translate to approximately one minute of screen time. If, for example, your margins are off, a 120 page screenplay can easily be 140 pages when properly formatted. That amounts to anywhere from 5-10 additional days of filming. Proper script format is essential for creating a reliable schedule and budget.

A second, equally important reason to adhere to proper script format is that in Hollywood, anything else is unprofessional. Any deviation from formatting standards will immediately label you as an amateur and usually land your script in the trash. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true.

To see a sample script page, click here.






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