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for today’s spec market

It’s time to stop worrying how to format a screenplay the “right” way, getting confused by all those “mistakes” in pro scripts, and arguing about camera angles in online screenwriting groups.

right now


“How do I format a Skype call?” “Is it okay to add camera angles?” “Will a reader throw my script in the trash if I bold my sluglines?”

Why the confusion? 

We receive more questions on how to format a screenplay than probably anything else at Script Reader Pro. But why? (Cue chin-stroking.)

  • Reason #1. There is no codified “correct” way of formatting a spec script. There’s no weighty tome entitled “The Golden Rules of Screenwriting Formatting For The Spec Market” that’s been around since the dawn of Hollywood.
  • Reason #2. Instead, there are a number of rather vague formatting “rules” which somehow over the years have become labeled “industry standard.”
  • Reason #3. People have a hard time agreeing on any of them. Take the issue of how to format an unseen characters’ dialogue on the other end of a phone line. Some say you should label it as VOICE OVER. Others insist it should be OFF-SCREEN. Which is it?

When professional writers often seem to make up formatting as they go along, books contradict each other, and readers at companies all have individual pet peeves, it’s no wonder aspiring writers struggle with spec script formatting. 

Which can lead to formatting like this…
screenplay format

Here’s the deal… 

        • While it’s true there are few “rules” when it comes to how to format a screenplay, the above example just screams “amateur writer,” simply because the formatting is unclear, messy and inconsistent.
        • Presentation matters. Turn in a screenplay with sloppy and inconsistent formatting and you run a high risk of distracting and, ultimately, annoying the reader. Not a good idea if you’re wanting to immerse them in the story.
        • Sending a spec script out into the industry is pretty much a crapshoot when it comes to the formatting preferences and the pet peeves of any given reader. There’s not much you can do about individual whims.
        • It’s a cliche, but you really do only have one shot when it comes to making a first impression with your screenplay. A low-level grasp of the right formatting choices leads to a high level of red flags about the script in general.

        screenplay format



        Discover the most common formatting irregularities we see in spec scripts every day when it comes to sluglines, description and dialogue, AND learn what to do instead.

        screenplay formatChoices Not Rules. How you format a screenplay is often a matter of personal taste. Therefore, rather than explain things in terms of rules, or “right” and “wrong,” we focus instead on choices.

        It’s All About The Read. Some formatting choices hinder the read, slowing it down and causing irritation and/or confusion. Others aide it by keeping things clear, concise and consistent. This book will make sure all your future formatting choices will fall into the latter camp.

        Examples Galore. Rather than simply list what you “should” do for any given area of formatting, the book gives examples of less desirable formatting choices, followed by better ones. And the reasons why. 

        screenplay format

      • This is Your 5-Step Plan to Mastering Screenplay Format

        Part 1: The Nuts & BoltsMaster the overall basics of screenplay formatting, including the title page, spec screenplay format vs. pro screenplay format, the importance of software and some tell-tale amateur mistakes to avoid before page 1.

        Part 2: Sluglines. Get a handle on sluglines as we break them down into their four main components—interior/exterior, location, time, special information—and discover the biggest “errors” we see aspiring writers make again and again.

        Part 3: Description. As with sluglines, we break description down into three parts: action lines, camera angles and transitions. Again, using examples, we lay out the very best and worst ways to format each.

        Part 4: Dialogue. We analyze three areas—character names, actor directions and the actual dialogue itself—indicating what to avoid, along with rock-solid suggestions as to what to do instead.

        Part 5: Moving Forward. Finally, we end with some resources, recommended further reading and tips to keep improving your screenplay format. We also talk a little about how a fear of writing itself may be a part of your current formatting issues.


Slugline Format Issues Demystified


Description Format Problems Cleared Up


Dialogue Format Quirks Eliminated


High Fives We've Received For Writing This Book

OK, sounds good. But how can I be sure it’ll REALLY help me master screenplay format? 

As we’ve already noted, screenplay format should be approached more as a series of choices, rather than in terms of methods that are either “correct” or “incorrect.” With that in mind, here’s just a fraction of the topics the book covers…

    • Why it’s okay to do things like use camera angles or bold your sluglines, despite what you may have heard from some so-called screenwriting “gurus.”
    • All of the rookie mistakes you should avoid when it comes to formatting sluglines, description and dialogue.
    • Why clarity is so important when it comes to spec screenplay format, and how to improve it so the reader becomes easily immersed in the story.
    • How to format a screenplay in the clearest, most concise way possible in order to improve your script’s readability and engagement with the story.
    • Why there’s a difference between spec and professional screenplay format, and why you should resist the urge to “break the rules” just like the pros.

screenplay format

If you want your screenplay format to work FOR your story rather than against it, this is the book for you. All for just twenty-nine bucks…

screenplay format

Here are a few FAQs

Does this book cover EVERYTHING when it comes to screenplay format? No, it does not attempt to answer everything under the sun regarding how to format a screenplay. There’s no section, for example, on how to format a FLASHBACK phone conversation INTERCUT with a DREAM SEQUENCE fight scene on top of a moving train. Shot in BLACK & WHITE. With text scrolling up the screen. What it does do, however, is clear up the majority of formatting quirks and anomalies we see in spec scripts that often end up working against the read.

Can I ask you guys formatting questions that aren’t answered in the book? Yes. Simply head on over to our blog post How to Format a Script for the Spec Market and leave your questions in the comments section. We monitor them daily and will reply to each and every one of your screenplay format queries.

Do I really need to buy a book on screenplay format? I mean, it’s all about the story, right? True, but why give any reader the impression you don’t know how to format a screenplay or can’t be bothered to learn? Strange, quirky and inconsistent formatting choices do two things: distract and annoy the reader. So it’s important to make better ones that’ll help prevent this.

Is the book available as a paperback? Unfortunately not. If you purchase you’ll be taken to a secure site where you can download a digital copy of the book as a PDF for use on computers and laptops.

Can I get a refund if it doesn’t help me? Sure thing. If by the end of the book you’re still none the wiser on how to format a screenplay, or if it just isn’t for you, we’ll give you a full refund right away. No questions asked.

How much does it cost? Less than the price of a cheap night out. See below.

screenplay format


Our book, “Master Screenplay Format: A Clear Guide On How To Format A Screenplay For The Spec Market” will make sure you don’t.

We get more questions about screenplay format than anything else. We know just how confused many writers are and can see why: solid, consistent information on how to format a script is missing from most screenwriting books, blogs and courses. And we’ve put everything into one book.

The truth is this: It’s extremely rare that a sloppily formatted spec turns out to be a masterpiece. A script that gets the most basic formatting “rules” wrong is usually lacking in other areas as well, and readers can be very quick to put two and two together and assume sloppy formatting equals sloppy story.

Follow the guidelines presented in this book, however, and you’ll avoid giving them that impression. Present your script in a professional manner and the reader will feel they’re in the hands of a professional when it comes to story and character, too.screenplay format

screenplay format

The book comes as a PDF file. You will be taken to a 100% secure download area where you can pay quickly and easily by either credit card or PayPal and have our screenplay format book on your computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone in under a minute.

thanks for reading!