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My Microsoft Word Screenplay Template (.dot)

I've heard a lot about the professional script writing programs like Final Draft and Movie Magic but I've written most of my work on Microsoft Word. How do I get the formatting correct? I made my own template in Word. With a four finger combination I have the right formatting for SLUGLINE, ACTION, CHARACTER, DIALOGUE, and WRYLY as well as the general acceptable page margins. This template will not help you shift scenes around, keep scene numbers or any of that. It will, however, get your formatting correct on paper which takes care of 80 per cent of the formatting needs for a screenplay. After you sell your script and the Producer is asking for whole scene movement, maybe then you can buy Final Draft.

Here it is. Use it, change it, whatever you want: (right click and save as) screenplay.dot

Getting Started:

1. Download this and place it in your C:\Documents and Settings\[yourusername]\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates/. Change [yourusername] to your account on your local computer.

2. Close your Microsoft Word if you already have it running. Then go to your Start menu, go all the way to the top where it says New Office Document. Select this.

3. A new dialogue will come up as part of Microsoft Office. Along with other Microsoft Office icons you should see screenplay.dot. Choose this.

4. A new page will come up with a screenplay already started. The new document will be fresh so you can save it and not save over the template.

Using screenplay.dot

All of the formatting is accomplished through key combinations. They all are triple key combinations so that I didn't overwrite any existing ones. They're left-handed based and take a bit of getting used to. Here they are.

  Key Combination Example
SLUGLINE: CTRL-SHIFT-ALT-S INT. MARKET - DAY
ACTION: CTRL-SHIFT-ALT-A Slater draws his gun and levels it.
CHARACTER: CTRL-SHIFT-C SLATER
DIALOGUE: CTRL-SHIFT-D You're going to die!
WRYLY CTRL-SHIFT-W (smiling fiercely)

Modifying screenplay.dot

1. All of this works on Microsoft Word's STYLES. Want to see how it works? Go to the Format menu and then scroll down to Style. This will open up the Style dialogue. In this you can see in the window on the left all of the styles that make up the formatting.

2. Disagree with my formatting? Click on any of those styles and then change the font, size, whatever. This is also the dialogue where you can change the key combination that calls up these styles. To do this, click on the style and then click on the Modify button.

3. Inside the next dialogue click on the Shortcut Key button. This will bring up another dialogue which prompts you to press the key combiantion you want to bring up that particular style. Do this and then, if satisfied, click on the Assign button which movies that key combination into the field on the bottom right (called "current keys"). If this is the only key combination you want, then go to the drop down menu on the bottom right called "Save Changes" and make sure the menu is selected to choose screenplay.dot. Close this dialogue. Close the previous one as well.

4. While still in the Stylle dialogue, select Apply. This will save your changes to that screenplay.dot.

Caveats

One more thing: The correct font to use with a script is COURIER. If you want your script to look just like a Final Draft script, look for a font called COURIER FINAL DRAFT. This is just like Courier in appearance but slightly more slender so that more words can fit in a page (though you may have the opposite problem).

Enjoy! This template comes with NO WARRANTIES whatsoever. It is not designed to do anything bad to your script but just in case, I will cover myself by saying that I'm not an expert on using Styles, it is based upon Microsoft Word and this works for me. By downloading this template you are accepting that risk.

 
   

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Unless otherwise indicated, all material on this site is copyright 2002-2004 Keith Meng-Wei Loh.