The Formats of Screenwriting

Screenplays follow a set of rules and standards for proper formatting so that the scripts will be clear, readable and consistent all throughout. A proper screenplay format also helps the actors understand their scripts easily.

The creation of screenplays for feature films which are submitted to American professional studios normally follows a set studio format, a popular standard typographical style which specifies the presentation of the elements of film scripts such as the scene headings, transitions, action, character names, dialogue, and shots, and which also determines the line spacing and font size. However, some film studios follow the required format which is written under their writer’s contract. The screenplay for motion pictures is usually 90 to 120 pages long. They are always in mono-spaced Courier or Courier New 12 pt. font.

For television shows in the Unites States such as dramas and single-camera sitcoms, scripts follow the same format used in motion pictures. The only difference is that the scripts for television programmes contain act breaks. Multi-camera sitcoms follow a different, specific format which is similar to a stage play or radio show. The scripts are double-spaced with emphasis on the action lines and scene headings. The script format for reality television is written using a storytelling structure, and is more compressed to emphasise the specific plot points of the story.

Audio-visual presentations and documentaries use a two-column format which is usually difficult to create using standard word processors. However, templates for documentaries are already provided by some script-editing software programmes.