Formatting Scripts #2: Stage

Angels in America excerpt

Figure #1

The big problem with stage scripts is that, when they are published, they are never seen in the correct, production format. Publishers need to maximise the use of space and minimise costs, hence the sort of format you see in Figure #1. (Extract from “Angels in America” by Tony Kushner). Click on the diagram for a larger image.

So, we have non-standard font-face (this is actually Baskerville) in a size that would be difficult to read by a long-sighted person without (this is about 9pt). The next thing you will notice is that the stage directions are set in italic, which is a definite no-no for submission scripts.

So, number one rule for formatting scripts is – use 12pt Courier font-face. You can use upper-case, lower-case and underline.

Stageplay formatting

Figure #2

The first thing you will notice about the sample in Figure #2 is that the stage directions stand out from the dialogue. They are typed in upper-case and indented by about 6cm. There is no mistaking at first glance, which is dialogue and which is action.

You will also notice that the Act and Scene numbers appear on the same line with no location description, unlike film scripts. These are not necessary because, in effect, there is only one location – the stage. The same goes for radio scripts.

Please read the sample page shown in Figure #2 for more detail. Click on it for a larger image.

What I have described above is a introduction to the visual element of formatting – presentation element if you will, with very little about the convention of scripts writing. Those will be covered at another time.

More detailed instruction can be obtained from the BBC Writer’s Room.

You can also follow me on twitter: @JohnMc_Lpool



Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Formatting Scripts #2: Stage

  1. Jam

    “These are not necessary because, in effect, there is only one location – the stage.”

    This isn’t necessarily a truism; it’s merely a point of view. Whilst from a writers perspective, it may not be necessary, from many other roles within the theatre, it is necessary.

  2. I understand your point. However, it is convention to include a description for the location/stage-set in the first line of direction for that scene.

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