Follow the formatting rules

If you're not sure of formatting rules when it comes to screenwriting, it's important to get up to speed. Deviations from formatting expectations is one of the fastest routes to script rejection.

Luckily there are a number of options open to you.

 

Industry Standard

With screenwriting software, the "industry standard" is Final Draft. It's very good, but also costly, and it isn't evolving as quickly as some competitors. If you're serious, it's worth the investment though.

If you're just starting out, and don't relish such an outlay, there are a number of free and/or cheap alternatives available to choose from. We'll update this list as we test out new software, but to get you started:

Celtx:

  • This is available for free as cloud based software, though there's a paid tier if you prefer that's increasingly popular with independent filmmakers.
  • For Windows users, the cloud is the only option, but Mac users can purchase a standalone copy of Celtx via the Mac App store for a reasonable price.

Adobe Story:

  • Cloud based, with a free option, Adobe Story also has a paid tier that integrates it with other Adobe products.
  • If you're familiar with Adobe's Creative Cloud software this has a similar aesthetic. It perhaps isn't as intuitive as it could be.

Portable Options:

  • If you're an iOS user, Final Draft is available for the iPad and iPhone. It's workable, and considerably cheaper than the desktop version, but not as effective. Great for if you're on set, but not recommended for extended, constant use.

 

Use at your own risk

In a pinch you can use the following format guides to work in a word processor.

It's important to note that using a word processor to write a screenplay should be a last resort. Many industry members won't read a script if it wasn't written in accepted screenwriting software. In short: writing in a word processor means even the best script risks being discarded

If it's really your only option: Download and use the script format guide here. Or look at a very detailed BBC script format guide here.