The Standard Script Format

According to Warner Brothers Studios Guidelines


Stage direction and shot headings (also known as slug lines) have a margin of 1.7” of the left and 1.1” on the right. TWO BLANK LINES PRECEDE EACH SHOT HEADING.

Dialog has a left margin of 2.7” and a right margin of 2.4”.

Character names over dialog (speaker) have a left margin of 4.1”.

Parenthetical direction within dialog has a left margin of 3.4” and a right margin of 3.1”.

Scenes transitions such as CUT TO: and FADE OUT. have a left margin of 6.0”.

Scene/shot numbers: When a script is numbered in pre-production, the left number is placed 1.0” from the left edge of the page and the right scene number is placed 7.4” from the left edge of the page.

Top page margin is .5” (or three single lines) before the page number. A single blank line separates the page number from the body of the script, which begins with either a CONTINUED: or a new shot heading/slug line.

Bottom page margin is at least .5” (or three single lines) following the (CONTINUED) or the end of a scene.

Total page length is a maximum of 60 lines, including page number and CONTINUEDs (but not including the 3 line margins at the top and bottom of the page).

Paper size is 8.5” wide by 11” long.


Use 12-point Courier (not Courier New) or Prestige Pica. These are fixed-pitch fonts that yield ten (10) characters per horizontal inch and six (6) lines per vertical inch.


When a shot or scene continues from one page to the next, (CONTINUED) must be added at the bottom of the page where the break occurs, preceded by a single blank line. CONTINUED: is then added at the top of the next page, followed by a single blank line.

Breaking Stage Direction

When stage direction (also known as action) is broken at the bottom of a page, break it only at the end of a complete sentence. CONTINUEDs must be added as explained above.

Breaking Dialogue

When a character’s speech is broken at the bottom of a page, break it only at the end of a complete sentence. Add (MORE) 4.1” from the left page edge at the bottom of the page where the break occurs, directly beneath the dialog (in other words, no blank line separates the (MORE) from the dialog) On the following page put (CONT’D) after the character name and on the same line as the name.

Also, when breaking speeches, do not place parenthetical character direction before the (MORE). Place the parenthetical direction with the remainder of the speech on the next page.

Formatting (Parenthetical) Character Direction

“Parenthetical character direction” is specific business relating only to the speaking character. Parenthetical character direction is placed in parens, on a separate line from dialogue.

If the direction goes more than four lines, place it at the left margin as regular direction, using a colon (:) to indicate it goes with the character’s next speech.

If CAMERA MOVEMENTS or SOUNDS (which should be capped) appear in parenthetical character direction, they should be “pulled out” and treated as regular direction.

Do not put another character’s direction in the speaking character’s dialogue. It MUST go at the left margin.

Formatting Dialogue

Words are never broken by a hyphen at the end of a line of dialogue unless it’s a naturally hyphenated word, such as twenty-three, pointblank, etc.

Formatting Shot Headings

All shot headings are placed on a line by themselves with two blank lines above and one blank line below. This includes any so-called “hidden” shots which may be imbedded in descriptive passages.

Additional examples of “hidden” shots include insert shots, close shots, wide shots, and any other specific shot called for within direction. All of these must be pulled out onto a line of their own.

A shot heading can never stand alone at the bottom of a page without at least one complete sentence of direction of dialogue — unless there is no direction or dialogue to go with it, such as an INSERT SHOT or an ESTABLISHING SHOT.

Scene Transitions

Scene transitions such as CUT TO: and DISSOLVE TO: are entirely optional, but when used should be preceded by one blank line and followed by two blank lines. When breaking pages, the scene transition must remain with the shot just completed. In other words, it is never permissible to start a new page with a CUT TO: or a DISSOLVE TO:. It must be placed at the bottom of the previous page.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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