How to Format a Script With Final Draft

by Etch Tabor

If you are writing a script, then you need to know how to format it. Whether it's for the stage, television or the big screen properly formatting a script is key. Although it can be done in word processing software, a program called Final Draft makes the process much easier. For the sake of this article, assume you are writing a television script.

Open Final Draft. Click on "File" and "New." Select "Half-Hour Sitcom."

Click on the drop-down menu at the top of the screen that lists the various components of a script. Items in this menu include "cold opening," "dialog" and "action."

Choose "cold opening." Write "Cold Opening" in the main body of the document.

Use the dropdown menu to select "Scene Heading." Write the heading for your scene in the main body of the document. This should list whether it is an interior or exterior scene, the scene location and the time of day. Final Draft comes with built-in designations for some of these fields. Once you start typing, it will automatically give you a list of suggested entries. If one of these entries applies to your heading, select it.

Select "Action" from the drop-down menu. Begin writing the action of the scene. Be sure to capitalize the names of any characters you are introducing into your script.

Select "Character" from the drop-down menu. Enter the character's name for whom you will be writing dialog for. Final Draft will remember this character name so that all you have to do is type the first letter or two of the name for Final Draft to populate it the next time this character has dialog.

Select "Dialog" from the drop-down menu. Enter the character's dialog. Combine "action," "character" and "dialog" to write your scene.

Select "Transition" from the drop-down menu when switching to a new scene. Type "Cut To:" in the main body of the document.

Select "Scene Heading" from the drop-down menu when beginning your next scene. Follow the previous instructions to flesh out this scene.

Select "New Act" when you complete your first act. Begin your second act using the previous instructions.

Tip

  • check You can adjust the built-in formats on Final Draft by clicking on "Format" and then "Elements." Select the element on the left that you want to format and adjust accordingly.

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About the Author

For three years, Etch Tabor worked as the technology and online editor at "InsideCounsel" magazine, a national publication for in-house counsel. He currently is a full-time freelance writer, specializing in legal, technology and comedy writing. He graduated in 2004 from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in journalism.