Author Topic: Basics - Formatting  (Read 1148 times)

Writer Arena

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Basics - Formatting
« on: August 21, 2013, 09:53:06 PM »
This is a thread containing information related to formatting screenplays.

Alex

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Re: Basics - Formatting
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 10:36:06 PM »
Hey guys,

When I first started screenwriting, the first thing I read up about was formatting, as you can't have a script without it. It is the basis of any screenplay.

Many experienced screenwriters won't read your screenplay if the basic format is incorrect.

There are many software packages that automatically create the format for you as well as giving you many options to alter the format to suit Features, TV Sitcoms or plays. The most popular of these programs is Final Draft and it has become an Industry standard and essential for any would be screenwriter.

As a beginner, I found this site invaluable. http://www.storysense.com/format.htm
You can flip from page to page to gain some great information.

Enjoy.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2013, 10:44:20 PM by Alex »
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Mr. Blonde

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Re: Basics - Formatting
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2013, 01:24:02 PM »
Even if you don't have (or use) that type of software, there's plenty of information online about the exact margins when it comes to where goes where. It's a pain in the ass, but you'll get it right. Then again, you could also do Celtx or download a Word screenwriting template. In other words, there's no real excuse to not have at least the basic formatting down. Same with pdfs as those have gone entirely mainstream and almost everything can use them.
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Writer Arena

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Re: Basics - Formatting
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 10:18:11 AM »
The reason there are formatting rules to begin with is because they needed a standard to determine how long a script would run by its page count.  So the formatting rules are set up so that one page should equal approximately (+-) one minute of film.  I would say you should definitely aim for this goal when writing because it's the most important and consistent rule.

However, my general rule about formatting is that a screenplay must look like a screenplay (and I'm a little more lenient than most other people).  I treat screenplays this way because there are actually many ways to format a script -- depending on where it's headed.

The most official page for formatting (at least in the US) is http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/resources.html they have a script sample that teaches formatting.  They also list these 14 foibles that will give a bad first impression:

- Typo/misspelling on the title page.
- Typo/misspelling in the first scene header.
- Typos/misspellings in the first sentence or paragraph or page.
- Triple/double spacing of every/many line(s) on first page.
- Lack of spacing between scene header and description and/or between description and dialogue and/or between dialogue and dialogue.
- Use of font other than Courier 12-point, ten-pitch, non-proportional.
- Extensive use of bold print.
- Dialogue that stretches from the left margin to the right margin.
- Extra space between character name and dialogue.
- Description and/or dialogue typed ALL CAPS.
- Extremely narrow or extremely wide outside margins.
- Long, long, long descriptive passages.
- Handwritten or hand-printed script.
- Other glaring, non-standard format usage.

I would definitely pay attention to the above fourteen points no matter where the script is headed. 

If you're formatting for the UK [BBC in particular] then use this page http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/send-a-script/formatting-your-script

And if you're formatting for Australia, just like with the language, you can get away with either the US or UK rules.