Script Formats


There are several types of scripts and differing formats for each type. Apparently no one wants it to be easy. Script formats, as with manuscript formats, have evolved to help with the production of a work. While writers might feel limited by the proper formatting, it helps pace a script and plan how to translate to screen or stage.

Templates for Stage Plays

Stage Script (Production Format): Stage play format, based on several sources. You can download script-prod.dotx for current versions of Word. Older versions require script-prod.dot, while script-prod.doc works with any program that can import Word files.

 

Play Script, Production Format

Production and submission format is not meant to look pretty, it’s meant to be functional. The only font used is 12-point Courier. (You can use Courier, Courier New, or the closest typeface on your computer.) The font and formatting enable rough estimates of play lengths. The format also helps actors follow lines and direction.

With Courier, or any monospaced typeface/font in which the letters are a set width, use “typewriter” rules for punctuation. If the punctuation has a period at the baseline, follow it with two spaces (except in abbreviations). Otherwise, use a single space. When you use a computer with “proportional” fonts, the rule is always use a single space — so it can be difficult to remember typewriter formats.

Remember than manuscript guidelines were designed before computers. Even as computers became more common, it was only in the late 1980s that most systems began to support more than a handful of typefaces and advanced layout controls.

Page Setup
Margins All margins are 6 pica (1 inch); top, bottom, left and right.
Page Numbers Number in the upper-right corner, 3–4 picas from the top (0.5 inch), 6 picas from the right edge (1 inch) .
  • Do not number the title page!
  • Lowercase Roman (ii, iii, iv…) for front matter.
  • Begin standard numbering on the first page of the script body.
  • Format: II-12, indicating the act and page count within the act. The Arabic numerals restart at 1 with each act.
Name Name in the upper-left, uppercase. Use a one or two-word title, a slash, and last name: TITLE / AUTHOR
Front Matter
Title Page
Title and Writer Start 6 picas (1 inch) from the top margin. Text is centered, all caps: title, in all caps, any subtitle on the next line, skip a line, “by” in lowercase, skip a line, and the author’s name in “proper/title” case.
Address and Phone Place in the lower-right so that the last line is one inch from the bottom of the page and the longest line is near the right margin.
EMail and Web If Internet contact information is included, raise the address two lines, leave a blank line and place the email and URL bellow the phone number.
Script Text
Acts Start on a new page, aligned to the left margin.
  • Use Roman numerals.
    Format: Act I: Title
  • Some styles allow bold or underlining.
Scenes Start on a new page, (unless Scene 1). Use Arabic numerals.
Set Directions Indent all text 15 picas from the left page margin (2.5 inches, 3.5 from page’s edge). Single space, with a blank between paragraphs. Uppercase character names.
  • ¶ 1: Setting (location, time, etc.).
  • ¶ 2: Set description, as detailed as required.
  • ¶ 3+: Additional direction.
Character Names Begin names 19.5 picas from the left page margin (3.25 inches, 4.25 from page’s edge).
  • Do not center the names.
  • Use uppercase letters, no special effects.
  • Skip a line before names.
  • Single space between name and character direction.
Dialogue Indent 6 picas from the left margin (1 inch, 2 inches from page’s edge).
  • Single space after name.
  • Single space all dialogue.
Stage Direction Indent all text 15 picas from the left page margin (2.5 inches, 3.5 from page’s edge).
Character Direction Appears directly under the character name. Some styles allow parentheses, others discourage. Either 19.5 picas from the left margin (3.25 inches, 4.25 from page’s edge) or 15 picas (2.5 inches, 3.5 from page’s edge).
  • Single space between name and direction.
  • Single space between direction and dialogue.

Play Script, Self-Publication Format

Publication format is how a script appears when it is meant to be read as literature. We do not recommend using this format unless a publisher or theatre group indicates it is acceptable. We have found that self-publication format is fine for distributing a script to most artistic directors.

The following table is based on a Microsoft Word template we use. For the measurements, be aware that an inch is six picas. If you do not use Word, you should still be able to create a similar template. If you have any questions, contact us via email.

Script Body
Act Page Break before, Center, Arial Bold, 18 or 16-point, Space after 6 points (a half line), Heading Level 1.
Style for next: Scene
Scene Act +, Left, Arial, 14-point.
Style for next: Scene Description
Scene Description Left, Times, 12-point, Indent Left 6 picas (1 inch), Indent Right 6 picas (1 inch).
Style for next: Stage Description
Stage Directions Left, Times, 12-point, Italic, Indent Left 3 picas (0.5 inch), Indent Right 3 picas (0.5 inch).
Style for next: Dialogue
Dialogue Left, Times, 12-point, Hanging Indent 1.5 pica (0.25 inch), Space after 6 points (a half line).
Character Word all caps.
Direction Italic.

 



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Writer: C. S. Wyatt
Updated: 01-Jan-2014
Editor: S. D. Schnelbach