Correct Pagination

There’s a reason you buy a program like Final Draft, for correct format and pagination. This not only makes your script look professional but it gives readers some idea of the final running time of the film. Roughly, a page equals a minute of screen time. I’m shocked by the number of people who try to alter margin settings, spacing, fonts, font sizes, etc. What is the point of owning a two hundred dollar piece of software if you’re just going to destroy your pagination by changing your font size to 14, or your font to Ariel.

Final Draft’s default font/size for a screenplay template is Courier Final Draft at size 12 point. That’s right. They have their own font. Courier is not the same as Courier Final Draft. It is a slight modification to aid in correct pagination. Movie Magic Screenwriter does the same thing. Courier Movie Magic. This is part of the reason why the same script in each program will find a difference in total page count.

Stick with the default font in either program. Any changes you make to font or margin may undo the exact reason you bought the program for in the first place.

Why do writers insist on changing these things? Part of the problem is a miseducation. The first thing most new screenwriters do is go to a bookstore and buy a screenplay to see what it looks like. I did the same thing. The first thing I noticed was that there was a difference in fonts between the ones I had chosen. Some were Ariel, some Courier, some Times New Roman. What’s the deal? Turns out the publishers feel no burden to print the screenplay as it was written. In fact – surprise – sometimes it’s not even the writer’s actual words. I know of one screenplay that was a transcription of the movie after it’s production, done by an assistant. I know this because the actual writer told me. And yes, this was a very popular hollywood movie. I’ve even store bought screenplays laid out like a stageplay. The truest representation is go online and find a PDF of the original script. My advice, if you’re new to the profession, look at current screenplays. I love Citizen Kane and Sunset Boulevard as much as the next guy but screenwriting in the early 1900’s looked a lot different than it does today. Things like the constant use of CUT TO: have been minimalized or altogether abandoned.

Get your hands on a current formatting book, read some professional scripts as they were actually written, get a professional screenwriting program and don’t monkey with the settings. Then you can put all this behind you and focus on storytelling.