UK Screenplay Formatting

A few days back I posted some links to screenwriting blogs and noted that there seemed to be very few UK ones. Danny Stack left a comment pointing me in the direction of his blog and I popped over to have a look. It was good stuff, a lot of it about the process of writing a script, getting an agent and other aspects of the scriptwriting biz.

Anyway, I dropped Danny an email yesterday asking whether he could answer a few questions about the physical state a screenplay should be delivered in here in the UK as we use a different paper format (A4 instead of the Letter size preferred only by Americans), we tend to use two- or four-hole punches, not the American three and a few other points. I figured he was a good person to ask because he not only writes screenplays, he read thems too, which means he’s on the receiving end of good and bad. Danny was right on the case and helpfully posted an entry covering this on his blog.

I’ve nicked the answers and posted them below, thanks, Danny.

What size and weight of paper is preferred? Is A4 80 GSM okay?
Normal A4 paper is fine. I don’t know about 80 GSM but there’s no need to get thick and fancy with the type of paper you use, just standard photocopying paper is dandy. The script should be printed on individual pages. Some agents send their scripts out doubled-sided, which I don’t like, but I can understand them wanting to cut down on their paper use.

Two holes, four holes or three holes?
Two holes seems to be the standard in the UK. The US system seems a bit flawed to me as occasionally, I’ll receive a script with four holes but with only two fasteners loosely holding it together. But perhaps this is due to it being photocopied and distributed at the production company who’s getting it covered.

What method of binding the pages is preferred? Braids, acco clips, etc?
Ah, thank you. Acco clips. Could never remember the name for those stainless steel binder thingies. They work very well and are standard issue in the UK. I find braids quite annoying and a bound script is a complete no-no. For one thing, a bound script needs to be unbound so it can be photocopied and distributed, and when I had to do this at Channel 4, I got very irritated indeed.

Are there any changes to the typical screenplay formatting (margins, widths, border, etc) that writers should be aware of?
There are people who could tell you immediately what the left and right margin should be but I’m not that anal. Thankfully, Final Draft does it automatically for me but if you don’t have the benefit of screenplay software and are unsure of the margins, just use your common sense. About an inch to two inches either side would probably look okay. Writers occasionally get hung up on screen format issues too, like what to do when characters speak at the same time or how to do a phone call, but for me, as long as I can read it and not be confused, then it works. Use whatever you feel comfortable with in terms of relaying the story and the reader shouldn’t have any complaints.

This post was written by Lee and published on 11th Oct 2005 in the following categories: General. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.

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