How to Format a Screenplay

Part of the Screenwriting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

As a screenwriter, you need to submit scripts according to accepted standards. Formatting your screenplay correctly makes it easy to read and easier to sell. The following tips tell you how to set up your page in the proper screenwriting format.

The five components of your page are

  • The description: Any description of the location, characters, and action indicated throughout the scene. Also referred to as the business of the scene.

  • The character name: Who’s doing the talking

  • The character dialogue: What that person says

  • Parenthetical directions: How a person says a line or what she’s doing when she says it

  • Transitional directions: Any camera indications of how the scene should be visualized

  • The page number

The following list covers where to set margins and how to format the page:

  • Left margin: 1.5 inches

  • Right margin: 1 inch

  • Top margin: 1 inch

  • Bottom margin: 1 inch

  • Description: Runs the length of the page (after you’ve set margins)

  • Character name: 4 inches from the left-hand side of the page. (2 ½ inches from the left margin)

  • Dialogue: Begins 2.5 inches from the left-hand side of the page (1 inch from the left margin). Ends at 6.5 inches from the left-hand side of the page (5 inches from the left margin)

  • Parentheticals: 3.5 inches from the left-hand side of the page. (2 inches from the left margin)

  • Page numbers: Top-right corner

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