How To Format a Stage Play Script (for submitting)

  Format is extremely important.    If you submit your new play to anyone they will not read it if it is not in the proper format. There is software out there that offer auto-format but sadly I have not found one that demonstrates correct formatting. Notice the character names are in CAPS and centered. Setting, Rise and Dialogue are justified left. Single space between character’s name and first line of dialogue. Blocking (action) is indented and double-spaced from the line above. (The playwright gives the characters instructions on when and where to move.  But, keep it short.  Remember there will be a director who has their own ideas of where they want their actors to be.)  If blocking is only one word, place next to character’s name in parentheses.  A ‘beat’ is to enhance the pace of the speech and is in parentheses within the dialogue. Here is a formatting example:


Scene 1   

       Setting:  A loft studio in Greenwich Village. Late afternoon. There are many paintings but all of the same woman. Large, open windows overlook the street.


                   (MONTY is standing at his easel, painting. Voices are heard off stage. His clothing is paint smeared.)

VOICE (Off.)

Hey, beautiful!  You’re home early.

                   (Brush in one hand, palette in the other, MONTY crosses up to the windows and peers  into the street below.
                    The lilting laughter of a young woman is heard.) 

SAMANTHA (Voice off. teasing.)

Hey, Mr. Murray. Your wife know you’re trying to pick up women in the street?

VOICE (off.) 

No…and don’t you tell on me.  My old woman would give me what for…bothering a young lady like you. 

SAMANTHA (Voice off.)

Your secret is safe with me (beat.)…for a price.  

VOICE (off.)

Oh yeah, what’s that?

SAMANTHA (Voice off.) 

Some fresh bagels from your bakery. 

VOICE (off.)

You got a deal.  I’ll bring them home with me tomorrow.

SAMANTHA (Voice off.)

 Thanks, Mr. Murray!  I’ll look forward to it.  Bye, now. 

VOICE (off.) 

Bye, beautiful.  See you later.  

                   (MONTY’s shoulders slump and he sighs as he watches Samantha disappear into a building.
                    HE crosses down to his easel.)

MONTY (muttering.) 

Jeez…how can that old guy be so easy with her? (beat.) Monty, you’re pathetic. You can’t even say ‘hello’ to her in the street.  What the hell’s the matter with you?

(end of sample)

Title Page of your script:  Play title and Playwright’s name.  Add contact info on this page if you are submitting to a publisher, agent or theatre. 

Early in the script book,  list the Cast of Characters.  Sample:

                                                              Cast of Characters

MONTGOMERY ANDERSON:   29 years old, a reclusive artist.
SAMANTHA SPARKS:                24 years old, an aspiring actress.
DETECTIVE O’ROARKE:           38 years old, a hardened homicide detective. 
(Note: Listing the ages of the characters is very important for casting.)

Greenwich Village, New York City


Leave lots of white space on the page. Actors/Directors will need wide margins in order to write notes and blocking when in production.
Read more about How To Write a Play

Author’s note: This formatting is approved by my publisher, Samuel French, Inc. This is what they expect to see when you submit. 
  Correct FORMAT if you are self-publishing. And, yes, it’s very different!
How to Format a Screenplay

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