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How to format a screenplay

This article offers links to explore the form and style of professional scripts, the format for screenplays, and useful software.

Screenplay Form and Style

It helps to use professional scripts as a guide, so read lots of scripts.

The BBC Writers Room offers a wide selection of sample scripts. Check often, as the list is frequently updated.

BAFTA/The British Academy of Film and Television Arts offers a wide range of resources for writers. You can access the Screenwriter’s Lecture Series, Guru Podcasts and many other services.

The Writers Guild of Great Britain and The Writers Guild of America, West offer a host of resources on their websites.

The Black List library of award-winning screenplays is a terrific resource, so give that a look. These scripts are free and legal for download, so read as many as you can.

Screenplay Format

Your scripts must be submitted in a proper format.

If you’re working in the UK, take a look at The BBC Format Guide for Screenplays. The guide tells you all that you need to properly format a screenplay, written in screenplay format.

Screen Australia offers an article on creating loglines, synopses and treatments. Follow the examples in their Story Docs: And Info Guide to learn a very useful approach to presenting your ideas.

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the folks who give us the Oscars, offers a concise guide to screenplay format Do’s and Don’ts. The site also offers downloads of scripts that won their prestigious Nicholl Fellowship.

Script Formatting Software

You’ll need a dedicated script formatted as a word processor for your screenplays. Commercial software is readily available, but there are many free choices, too.

Writer Duet offers free online script formatting. Online formatters are accessible from most internet-enabled devices, but that can be a problem if your internet access is limited. Writer Duet does much of what the others do, offers collaborative editing, and it can save in Final Draft.FDX format.

Celtx is another popular online formatter, but it’s a little fussy to manage and the free trial lasts for only three projects.

Trelby offers a free offline formatting program that’s worth consideration. It lacks some of the bells and whistles offered by other programs, but it’s free and won’t nag you to upgrade. In addition, it’s a program that you can download and use even if you’re without internet access.

You may want to purchase Final Draft, the industry-standard software, but it can be costly. Fade In Pro is excellent software that is much less expensive than Final Draft, and it uses the same templates and saves in the.FDX format.

If you’d like to learn more about screenwriting, check out the full online course from The University of East Anglia, below.

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An Introduction to Screenwriting

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