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Writing in the Screenplay Format
Writing in the Screenplay Format

Screenplay elements, formatting, and dual dialogue

Alice DuBois avatar
Written by Alice DuBois
Updated yesterday


Scripto combines the collaborative powers of Google Docs with the screenwriting power of Final Draft. The program allows you to create scripts that can be written in real-time with any number of collaborators.

Screenplay Elements

Every block of text in a script is called an "element." Each element has a type. Based on the element type, Scripto knows how to format each block of text.

You know how character names appear in all caps while lines of dialogue are normal sentence case, and they have very different margins? All that formatting gets handled automatically just by assigning the right element type.

These are the element types that exist in the screenplay format:

Scene Heading is for describing where a scene is taking place. Eg. INT. OFFICE - DAY
Action is for action that can be seen or heard but isn't spoken by a character.
Character is for the people speaking in the script.
Parenthetical is for instructions on how a line should be delivered. Eg. quietly
Dialogue is for characters' lines.
Dual Dialogue is for two characters speaking at the same time.
Transition is for transitions between scenes. Eg. CUT TO:
New Act is for marking the beginning of an act.
End of Act is for marking the end of an act.
General is for text that doesn't fit into any other element type.

When your cursor is in a text block, you can determine its element type by looking at the gray icon displayed in the left margin.

How to change element types

You want to write easily without breaking your flow to think about formatting. Scripto predicts which element type you need based on context, and makes it easy to change the type if the default is wrong.

There are a few ways to change the element type:

1️⃣ TAB key – Press the TAB key repeatedly to cycle through the likely element types.

2️⃣ Keyboard shortcuts – Each element type has a keyboard shortcut. (⌘1 for Scene Heading. ⌘2 for Action. And so on)

3️⃣ Element menu – You can open the element menu by clicking on the icon in the margin (or pressing ⌘K). Then select the element type that you want.

In some contexts, Scripto can guess which element type you need based on what you've written. For instance, if the first thing you type in an empty line is ( Scripto realizes you want a Parenthetical element and updates the type for you.

Note: Shows on our paid plans can customize the default formatting for each block type.

Bold, Italics, and other text formatting

You can manually apply bold, italics, underlines, strikethroughs or all caps formatting to any text in the script.

Scripto supports the standard keyboard shortcuts (⌘b to bold text, ⌘i will italicize text, ⌘u will underline text). There is also a text formatting menu that appears when you highlight text.

1. Highlight the words you want to format. The formatting menu will appear.

2. Click the text style that you want. The text will change to reflect what you've chosen.

Click out of the word to make the emphasis menu disappear.

To force text into ALL CAPS, click the up arrow. (There is no button to force the text back into mixed case.)

Dual dialogue

How to type dual dialogue 

1. Click on the element type to open the element menu. Choose "Insert Dual Dialogue" from the menu.

2. The format for dual dialogue will appear in gray. 

Type Character 1's name and press "Enter/Return" to type dialogue for Character 1. Once you've typed the dialogue for the Character 1, press "Enter/Return" twice. This will move the cursor to Character 2.

Once you've finished typing the dialogue for Character 2, press "Enter/Return" twice again to exit dual dialogue. 

How to delete dual dialogue

There is only one way to delete dual dialogue. If you do not type in the dual dialogue, the greyed out text will stay on the screen. You are not able to delete it.

1. Put your cursor at the beginning of the element after the dual dialogue.

2. Press "Delete." This will put the dual dialogue in a blue box.

3. Press "Delete" again. This will delete the entire dual dialogue section. 

Page Breaks

If you want to start an Act or Scene Heading on a new page, you can manually insert a page break either from the Element menu or with the keyboard shortcut Control + Enter.

If you prefer to write in a continuous view without seeing the page breaks, you can switch in pageless view by clicking the icon on the left side of the status bar (beneath the editor)


- Switching to pageless view a personal view preference that only applies to the person who sets it. It will not apply to the document globally.
- The preference will persist across any document that you open – until you switch it again.

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