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Our Final Draft Software Top 3 Tips For Easier Screenwriting

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October 21, 2014 2 comments
final draft software

When I was a lead technician at Final Draft, I received many calls from frustrated screenwriters complaining that it was taking them too long to type and revise their scripts.

But most of the time they simply weren’t using the program as efficiently as they could have been…

So, here’s a few quick tips to help you type and revise your scripts easier and make writing with Final Draft software that much quicker.

1. Rebuild Your SmartType

Within Final Draft, every time you type in a name in the Character element, or type a new Scene Heading, it’s added to your SmartType, the auto-fill function in Final Draft that remembers them for you.

But if you’ve changed a character name, or eliminated a location, it can be annoying to see that name or location continue to show up as you type.

To remedy this, go to Document > SmartType and look through your Character and Location lists. You’ll probably see old information from previous drafts.

Press the “Rebuild” button to update the SmartType to reflect what’s currently happening in your script.

Rebuilding your SmartType every so often also helps keep your .fdx file healthy. Sometimes odd lines of text slip into the SmartType if they were incorrectly labeled while writing (ie. a random line of Action labeled as a Scene Heading.)

Too many of these incorrect entries can bog down your SmartType and possibly contribute to your file behaving strangely or crashing. Keep your script healthy by keeping the SmartType up to date.

2. Change Between Elements With The Element Pop-Up Menu

For some people who are newer to using Final Draft software, they find it takes them forever to type a script because they use the mouse to go up (in Windows) or down (in Mac) to the toolbar to change the element manually each time as they write.

There’s no need to do this.

Simply press Return (Enter) twice to bring up the Element pop-up menu, and you can type the first letter of the element you want (ie. “S” for Scene Heading, “A” for Action.) No need to take your hands off the keyboard at all : )

3. Use The Final Draft Software Reformat Tool

Sometimes, I got calls from ADs or UPMs ready to pull their hair out because the elements had been labeled incorrectly during the writing process.

If you need to go through your script and re-label incorrectly labeled elements, you can go to Tools > Reformat to do this easily.

This Final Draft pro tool will highlight every line for you and bring up a box where you can click what the element should be labeled as.

Then hit Next to go to the following one, until you’ve gone through the script. Easy!

What did you think of our Final Draft tutorial? What things bug you about screenwriting in Final Draft software? What would you like me to tackle in the next post? Let me know in the comments section below! 

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Rebecca led many a Final Draft tutorial as lead technician at Final Draft and is currently a script consultant at ScriptReaderPro. She recently co-wrote the feature rom-com Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine, currently in post-production. Rebecca also writes the column Writers on the Web for Script Magazine, and speaks on panels about writing and self-producing at LA WEBFEST and the Screenwriters World Conference.

2 Comments
  1. Adrienne says:

    Hi, I was hoping this was going to talk about better tools for re-writing, which I’m finding very difficult navigating backwards and forwards through the timeline of scenes to do

    1. Hey Adrienne, do you mean navigating within scenes using Final Draft? Or just the writing process in general?

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