Writing How-To: Format a Script/Screenplay

If you love writing, then write. Things like formatting don’t matter until you’ve put pen to paper.

This post is about the technical formatting of your screenplay/script. I will write another post soon about what to put in your script, and how to use proper terminology.

For those that are ready, here is my step-by-step tutorial Writing How-To: Format a Script/Screenplay. I usually use a program called Movie Magic Screenwriter by Write Brothers, but I will be showing you using Word, because it’s free and still easy. I will be using a Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Band Candy script as examples throughout (don’t worry, I won’t put any major spoilers in it).

You can do it in any order, but I will be going from front to back.

Step One

TITLE PAGE

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Title and Names:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined), names clear formatting.

Contact Info:
Courier New 12pt, flush right. Name, address, email address (professional), phone number

Step Two

CAST LIST

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined)

Names:
Justified, clear formatting
*Regular cast (for television series) goes first, then guest stars.*

STEP THREE

SET LIST

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined)

Text:
‘Set List’ underlined, centred
‘Interiors’ and ‘Exteriors’ underlined, justified
Rest in justified, clear formatting
*Interiors first, then Exteriors*

STEP FOUR

ACT ONE or TEASER – Page 1

Television shows have a short section at the start to introduce the main story of the episode. Films just begin with Act One.

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, underlined
*Title no longer on screenplay/script pages after this*

Text:
‘Teaser’ centred, capitals
‘Interior’ or ‘Exterior’ capitals, justified
Scene, character, and action description flush left, clear formatting
Character name in capitals in description first time mentioned
Character name (dialogue header) capitals, left indent (6 ‘tab’ from left margin)
Dialogue centred, left indent (3 ‘tab’ from left margin), 10cm long

STEP FIVE

END OF ACT ONE or TEASER

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Text:
‘Fade to Black’ or ‘Black Out’ flush left, capitals
‘End Of…’ centred, capitals


So, there you go. This is how you format a screenplay/script using Word and no template. Templates are easier to use – programs are better, though – so decide wisely.

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Once More, With Feeling!

So it’s been brought to my attention that Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling episode is now 14 years old!! I thought I would do a quick little blog post about it, because it truly is amazing television. *SPOILERS AHEAD*

For those of you that don’t know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) is a show about a girl who has special abilities and fights vampires, demons, and all other monsters. In this particular episode, we are treated to a singing and dancing cast. With a dancing demon (“no, something isn’t right there”) bringing out all their unsaid words, the harmless spectacle turns deadly, as the power and emotion is too much to handle.

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It was through a Facebook post by Whedonesque that alerted me to the milestone. I can’t believe it has really been that long. I remember like it was only yesterday. Being in Australia, we probably got it a year after America, but we had avoided spoilers (not really much internet then), and all sat up late to watch it.

I remember by mum warning us beforehand not to sing along, to which we aptly replied that they were original songs and we would have no idea what the lyrics were.

The episode was everything that it was hyped to be, and we even got to see a Buffy/Spike kiss. The singing was as-expected, with many of the cast already professional singers, and no one let the rest down. The songs, however, have definitely stood the test of time. Even now, whenever I feel inclined to sing (usually in the shower), Once More, With Feeling songs are always the first I think of.

If you haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend it. Oh, and while I’m at it, there is also a musical episode of Sanctuary (2008-2011) that does it in a very different, but still very cool way.