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Scriptwriting Basics

Scripts can be written in two primary ways:


One column format: Each line is either a video shot description or spoken dialogue, broken up with indentation.

Two column format: The left column is used for video descriptions, and the right is used for audio.




  1. Determine the format (documentary, movie, newscast, gameshow, presentation, etc.)

  2. Outline the plot, message, or story in a few sentences as possible.

  3. Try and do a storyboard with 3x5 cards containing a sloppily sketched scene of what you want to convey in that particular “shot”.

  4. Now put words on the back of each 3x5 card, explaining what each shot is using as many words as necessary. You could also use a notecard app like Cardflow to do this on your iPad! (especially cool with Apple Pencil!)

  5. Put the cards in order, number them, and begin to write a formal script based on the cards.The words should be presentation ready. When describing anything not spoken, use all caps in parentheses. you can even use a scriptwriting app like Celtx or FadeIn to help you write without having to fret about formatting (paired with a iPad keyboard this is very powerful!).

  6. Be sure to put any music, sound effects, camera motion, or dialogue in order that they happen.The beauty of a two column format is that it’s easy to put many things going on at once.

Tips and Tricks:


  1. Go here for a list of script shorthand abbreviations:

  2. Have you and some friend(s) rehearse the script beforehand to ensure it makes sense.

  3. Use an easy to read font.

  4. Use indentation, bold, caps, and italics to your advantage in understanding what's happening in the script.  A script conveys many             things at once so any way to distinguish the lines is very important.

  5. Use your own style.  Unlike MLA or APA formats, there is no set margins or font size.  As long as your script is understandable and gets       the point across, do what's easiest for you.

Below are links to two sample scripts to help you get an idea of what the two main formats may look like:

After you have written your script, it's time to start shooting video.

           Two Column Format                                                                      One Column Format

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