The Basics of Screenplay Formatting

Are you new to screenwriting? Or maybe just want a refresher on some of the basics of formatting? You have come to the right place! In today's blog post, we are going to start at the beginning--covering the very basics of screenplay formatting including font size, margins, and the 5 main elements of your screenplay. 

Formatting is essential if you ever plan to try and sell your screenplay. Formatting your screenplay correctly is one of the easiest ways to make a good first impression and maximize your chances of getting your screenplay read. 

Most screenwriting software, including our new, upcoming SoCreate platform, will handle the formatting for you, but just in case you ever find yourself needing to make manual edits (or using a typewriter), here are some of the basics. 

Font: Always use 12-point Courier! Slight variations including Courier Prime or Courier New are also acceptable. 

Margins: Margin should be adjusted to these measurements:

  • Left Margin: 1.5"
  • Right Margin: 1.0"
  • Top and Bottom Margins: 1.0"

Page Numbers: Right align your page numbers in the page header. Nothing else should live in the header of your page except for the page number. You do not need to include the page number on the first page of your screenplay. 

Now that you've got your page formatting set, it's time to start letting those ideas flow. Start your first page out by typing "FADE IN" in all caps followed by a colon (:). 

5 Main Elements of Your Screenplay:

1. Slug Line:
The slug line, also known as the master scene heading, occurs at the beginning of each new scene in your screenplay. This can be broken up into 3 parts:

  • Inside or Outside [Inside locations are denoted as INT (Interior) and Outside Locations as EXT (Exterior)]
  • The Location
  • The Time of Day

Notice that all of the slug line is written in capital letters.

2. Action: Now that we have our scene slug line, we need to tell the reader what's happening in the scene, what characters are doing, and what sounds are heard. Action descriptions should be kept as succinct as possible. Do not bog readers down with unnecessary details about your scene. 

Character names should be capitalized in action descriptions the first time they are introduced. Once you have introduced them, their names can be written normally.

Other actions that are often capitalized include: 

  • Visual or special effects. 
  • Sounds to be captured in that action scene. 
  • The first time that important props, wardrobe, or other details are mentioned. 
  • Anything else that the writer wants to draw readers' attention to. 

3. Character Name: Here's an easy one--which character is speaking? The character name is always capitalized and indented 3.5" from the left margin. Remember to be consistent with character names throughout your screenplay. If you have a character "JOHN DOE," make sure that each time he speaks, you title his dialogue with "JOHN DOE" and not "JOHN," "MR. DOE," etc.

Character Extensions: Sometimes you may need to modify your Character Name and Character Extension. The two extensions are: 

  • O.S. for off-screen: This is used when a character who is physically present in a scene speaks but is not visible to viewers. 
  • V.O. for voice over: This is used when a character is not physically present in the visible scene but speaks lines. This could be someone speaking on the other end of a telephone or perhaps speaking while reflecting over a flashback scene. 

4. Parentheticals: This is the place where you can add a bit more instruction to the way that an actor should speak their line. Parentheticals are indented to 3.0". Be sure to use these sparingly! Not every line needs this sort of direction.

 5. Dialogue: Last, but certainly not least, dialogue: what your characters actually say. Dialogue should be indented to 2.5" and only extend as far as 5.5".

There you have it--the very, VERY basics of screenplay formatting. Of course, there are many other formatting elements that are not covered in this post. If there is one in particular you would like to learn more about, comment below and we'll try to cover it in a future post. For more information, check out the following sources that we've used to help better our own understanding of screenplay formatting: 

General Formatting:

Slug Lines and Scene Headings:

Action Paragraphs and Dialogue:

Cheers to you, writers!



*Screenplay formatting notes taken on Forrest Gump Screenplay written by Eric Roth. 



Few but Mighty! SoCreate's First-Ever Monthly Ladies Lunch

Last week, our three SoCreate ladies met up for the first-EVER SoCreate Monthly Ladies Lunch. 

With 17 total SoCreate team members, made up of 14 guys and only 3 ladies, you can imagine how nice it was for our gals to get together for lunch to just chat. 

The idea for the monthly Ladies Lunch actually did not come from one of us, but rather from our founder and CEO, Justin Couto. He came to me about a month ago with the idea of implementing these monthly get-togethers to give our ladies a chance to hang out away from all of that 'office testosterone.' ;) As we continue to grow as a company, we also hope to continue growing the size of our Ladies Lunch group. If you have any questions regarding our employment opportunities, please send your resumes to

This month's Ladies Lunch took us to one of the delicious local Mediterranean eateries, Petra! Quickly greeted at the door by some fresh pita bread, we made our way to the front of the line to order up some delicious food. 

Fortunately, the three SoCreate gals are pretty adventurous eaters. We sampled all of the different sauces from the sauce buffet. Amber and Rosa even tasted the hottest sauce they had to offer. (My whimpy taste buds decided to sit that one out.) 
In addition to our individual lunch plates, we also ordered and enjoyed some tasty grape leaves. Yum! 

Needless to say, we had a fantastic time! Even though it was just for an hour, it was nice to spend some time getting know each other away from the office. I'm already looking forward to next month's lunch. 

Amber said it best when she mentioned that we all feel pretty "#blessed" to work here at SoCreate! 

Thanks for checking in, readers! See you next week. 


May We Have Your Attention for New Team Member, John Jenson

Well, readers, we have made it to our final new SoCreate team member introduction!

Last, but most CERTAINLY not least, please put your virtual hands together and welcome our third new software engineer, John Jenson! We are excited to have you here, John. 

John was born in Gilroy, CA (that makes two of us from the Garlic Capital of the World :) ), and lived there for the first two years of his life. At age 2, John and his family moved to Utah where they lived for a few years before returning to California and landing on the Central Coast. 

After high school, John headed down to UC Santa Barbara where his interests in both hardware and software led him to study Electrical Engineering. Towards the end of his college career, he started to realize that his interests in programming were beginning to outweigh his interests in hardware. With the hopes of further pursuing software development after graduation, he buckled up and quickly began studying all that he could about programming in his free time. 

Just two years ago, John made the jump into web development. Attending Hack Reactor in San Francisco and picking up some freelance work on the side, he made sure that his knowledge and skills were growing as fast as his love for programming. John also joined CodeSLO, the local meetup for coders, where he would eventually be introduced to SoCreate and meet our founder and CEO, Justin Couto

After his first few weeks here, John said he is most excited about being able to work on such a sharp team. After doing freelance work for quite a while, he is looking forward to being in a collaborative environment where everyone is talking about what they're working on and exchanging ideas. 

When he is not working, John enjoys spending time outside. Some of his favorite outdoor activities include hiking and kayaking. John also enjoys studying astronomy and watercolor painting. 

We can't wait to see what the future has in store for John at SoCreate! Welcome! 

Well, we have made it to the end of our new team member introductions. I speak for all of us when I say that we are ecstatic to be joining the SoCreate team and helping bring the future of screenwriting to you! 

If you would like the chance to be one of the first people to trial the SoCreate platform, be sure to join our Private Beta list on our homepage. 

Exciting times are coming--full steam ahead!


Lights, Camera, Sam Solis Ramirez! SoCreate Welcomes New Team Member, Sam.

Happy Thursday to all of our great followers! In case you missed our last few blog posts, we are just over halfway through introducing our 5 new SoCreate team members to our blog community. 

Today, we are highlighting our new intern, Sam Solis Ramirez. Welcome aboard, Sam! Sam will be helping us with the filming of our company documentary. Oh yes, you read that right, a documentary all about SoCreate--showcasing our journey as a startup and our awesome team working hard to bring you the best screenwriting experience possible. Sam's passions for film along with his engineering background make him the perfect fit for this position. 

Sam was born in León, Mexico, and lived there until he was three years old. At the age of three, his family moved to Guadalupe, CA, located just about 30 minutes south of San Luis Obispo. Sam spent many of his elementary school years split between the United States and Mexico (often studying in one country for the first half of the year and in the other for the second half) before spending all 4 full years of high school in the United States. 

After graduating from high school, Sam moved to Mexico to work. However, after a year, he returned to the Central Coast--allowing his experiences in both countries help guide his ultimate goals for the future. Upon his return, he decided to begin following his multiple creative interests at a local community college--studying music, film, and even dance! During his time at the community college, he also began taking math courses and found that he was really enjoying the material--and was really good at it too! After pursuing a recommendation from one of his professors to investigate engineering, Sam accepted an offer to study Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he still studies now. Although his major is in engineering, Sam still considers film to be one of his most passionate hobbies. 

Because of his background and interests in film, Sam is extremely excited to be a part of the SoCreate team and the building of something that can make such a huge impact on the industry. 

Outside of work, Sam considers himself to be what he explains as an "experimental guinea pig for self-improvement." A few of the new self-improvement trends that he has been testing out recently include fasting for 16 hours a day and taking ice baths 3 times a week. Brrr! 

Please join us in welcoming Sam to our SoCreate team! 

Cheers to you, writers. 


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Say Hello to Graham Marlow-- Our New SoCreate Team Member

It's Monday, which means it's the start of another very exciting week here at SoCreate! Be sure to keep an eye on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter for all of the latest and greatest company news. 

Next up for our new team member introductions is our new software engineer, Graham Marlow. Let's give a big SoCreate welcome to Graham!

Graham grew up locally in San Luis Obispo, CA, just minutes away from where our SoCreate office is today. After finishing high school here, he made the 95-mile trek down the coast to study Statistics at UC Santa Barbara. Towards the end of his Statistic studies and time in Santa Barbara, Graham began to recognize his growing interest in programming, but also realized that it was a bit late in the game to so drastically shift gears--especially if he still wanted to graduate on time. Instead of completely changing his course, he decided to finish things out with his Statistics degree while also adding as many coding classes as possible to his schedule. His passion for programming would have to wait just a bit longer to be fully explored after graduation. With a lot of hard work and many hours spent, Graham was able to gain some valuable experience in each of the classes he could add on before wrapping up his college years at UCSB. 

Post-degree, Graham made it back up to San Luis Obispo where he landed a great job as the sole software engineer at a small energy company in town. After a year there, he decided it was time for something new and moved to a manufacturing company, where he continued to perfect his skills as a software engineer for another year before finding his next stop--here with us at SoCreate!

Graham is excited to join the SoCreate team and to be working on a project that is so creative and channels his own passions for creative writing. When he is not programming, Graham enjoys writing, game development, hiking, camping, and rock climbing. His love for the outdoors and adventures in climbing have taken him to some of California's most beautiful climbing locations, including Joshua Tree and Bishop.

SoCreate is SoHappy to welcome Graham to the team!

Check back in on Thursday to read about our next new team member.

Until then!


SoCreate Welcomes New Team Member, Eric Broberg

Welcome back, readers! As you may remember from our last blog post, things are really heating up here at SoCreate. The future of screenwriting is on its way! In today's blog, we will continue introducing of our 5 awesome new team members. 

Without further ado...Readers, please give a warm welcome to one of our three new software engineers, Eric Broberg. Eric was born and raised just down the 101 freeway from our SoCreate headquarters, in Santa Barbara, CA. From one beach town to the next, Eric moved up the coast for college and graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Community Studies.

After graduation, he packed up his knowledge, adventurous spirit, and love for travel and headed to Chile, where he taught English for a year while also learning the native language, Spanish. After returning from his time in Chile, Eric moved north and worked various landscaping jobs in the Bay Area. But, like they always say, "Once the travel bug bites, there is no known antidote," and after a few years in the Bay, Eric decided to join the Peace Corps. Next stop--the Dominican Republic--where he spent 2 years practicing landscaping, sustainable farming, and his recently gained fluency in Spanish. 

Upon his return from our neighbors to the south, Eric moved to San Luis Obispo, CA where, despite his plans to pursue sustainable farming on his family's land, he decided to reignite his high school passion for computer science. Eric quickly joined CodeSLO, a local meetup group for learning to code, and remotely attended Hack Reactor, an intensive software engineering boot camp headquartered in San Francisco. With his newly polished skills, Eric landed a job at Williams Sonoma doing software development where he worked for a year. 

Eric first learned about SoCreate through our sponsorship of some of CodeSLO's events. It seemed to be the perfect fit for his desire to work on something really cutting edge, and he is very excited to be part of the groundbreaking SoCreate project from the ground up. 

When he is not coding, Eric also enjoys growing subtropical, rare fruits, playing soccer, and fulfilling his inner traveler and foodie sides on the Central Coast with his wife, 10-month-old daughter, and 3lb. chihuahua, Maximus. 

Welcome, Eric! We are SO excited to have you on our team. 

That's all for now--until next time! 


Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for more company updates! 

SoCreate Welcomes 5 New Team Members

SoCreate's the Name and Growth Is Our Game!

Times are exciting here at SoCreate! This week, we welcomed 5 new members to our team--including myself!--to help provide you, our valued readers and writers, with the best possible solution to all of your creative screenwriting needs. It is our continuous goal to ensure that the writer ALWAYS comes first. 

Over the new few weeks, we would like to take some time to individually highlight each of our great new hires, sharing a bit about what makes each of them unique and a great fit for our team. 

To start things off, Hello! My name is Alli Unger, and I am SoCreate's new Director of Community Outreach. Born and raised in the small town of Gilroy, CA (most notably recognized as the Garlic Capital of the World), my journey to the Central Coast and SoCreate began a few years ago with an acceptance letter from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After 4 years, I graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Marketing Management and a minor in Studio Art. Unable to part with the beautiful Central Coast post-cap and gown, I decided that staying in the area was the right path for me. After gaining some valuable experience at another company in digital marketing, event coordination, and content creation, I decided it was time for a change of pace. I wanted to use my skills for something more--something fast-paced, something exciting, and something on the verge of technological breakthrough. SoCreate was the perfect fit. 

In my free time, I like to spend my days enjoying all that this beautiful area has to offer. Set perfectly between the beach and the mountains, San Luis Obispo County makes hiking and beach-bumming (two of my favorite things), all in the same day, a weekend staple. I also enjoy painting, horseback riding, playing volleyball, and...oh yes, blogging. ;)

After my first few days here, it is easy to say that I am extremely excited to get things started. SoCreate's inviting culture and drive for success are truly inspiring.

Cheers to exciting times and the future of screenwriting!

Until next time, readers.


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Day 100 and Done!

SoCreate Summer Fitness Challenge 2016 - Day 100 Done!

On Tuesday of this week it came down to a handful of warriors left charging down Day 100 of the SoCreate Summer Fitness Challenge 2016.  It was a long fought battle of will, determination, and stamina. 

This challenge was tough, really tough.  For me, it proved to be one of the most difficult challenge I have attempted.  Thankfully, I was able to push through and complete it.  The overall consensus was that the relentless no days off pace of the challenge was grueling and the downfall of most that couldn’t continue.  Making up a missed day while late in the competition can be nearly impossible, but some did in fact did do that.  I am very proud of everyone inside and outside the company that stepped up to the challenge regardless of whether they completed it or not.  The goal of the challenge was to get people moving and to try something new.  I am even more proud of those that found the will to keep going and made it to the end.

The youngest to complete the challenge was an 8-year-old boy named AJ.  When AJ’s dad heard about the SoCreate Summer Fitness Challenge, he asked his family if anyone was interested participating.  AJ was all over it.  To sweeten the pot, AJ’s dad setup his own rewards program promising to buy AJ a Nintendo 3DS XL if he completed the challenge.  That was all the motivation AJ needed.  He dominated!  Even on their summer camping trips, AJ didn’t skip a beat.  He crushed it every single day.  That boy is a go getter and I can’t wait to see what he does with that determination in the future.

After the challenge ended Tuesday, we gave everyone a couple days’ rest before we attempted to do our pushup contest.  If you recall, there was a $500 bounty to anyone on the SoCreate Team that could do more pushups in 60 seconds than me.  I knew the competition would be strong.  We were also offering a $100 to anyone that doubled their pushup count in 60 seconds.  Lastly, there was a $100 reward to anyone that had a significant other complete the competition.  The money was on the line and today we found out who would go home with the greenbacks.

First up was our young gun, the intern, Tim who easily glided to a $250 challenge completion payout.  Tim had me worried from the beginning.  Besides his youthful edge, Tim is an avid weight lifter who loves a little competition.  In our Pre-Challenge push up test, Tim put up a big number, 41 pushups in 60 seconds.  That was a legit start and I knew I had my work cut out for me.  After months of sweating it out, Tim increased his pushup count by a whopping 19.6% laying down an extremely respectable 51.  Way to go Tim!

Next up was Amber.  She destroyed this challenge along with her significant other Ben.  And, for all Ben’s hard work, Amber gets to take home an addition $100 on top of the $250 she got for completing the challenge.  These two pushed each other through it enabling Amber to post amazing gains.  Amber killed it in her pushup test increasing it by an amazing 41% from a pre-challenge 20 to 34 today.  You rocked it Amber!  Great Job.

Then there was Brian who had a crazy busy summer and still managed to find the time to stay in the challenge.  Brian planned his execution like a master.  He’d double up his workouts for days he new he would not have the time posting up more then 150 burpees in a day.  He never waivered and did every single required rep.  Brian contributes his planning efforts to him making it all the way through to a $250 completion.  Brian increased his pushup test by 30 percent going from a respectable 27 to an awesome 39.  Awesome work Brian!

Following Brian was Rosa our CFO, who is my wife and the mother of our 3 girls (a 2 ½ year old and 9 month old twins).  From sun up to literally the end of the day, Rosa’s schedule is jam packed.  Often running on almost no sleep, Rosa conquered her CFO duties to her Mama duties and still found the time to blast through this challenge.  She amazed us all with a crazy 64% increase in her pushup test, more than doubling her numbers from 9 to 25.  That amazing feat scored Rosa an extra $100 on top of the $250 she was awarded for completing the challenge.  You are amazing Rosa!

Lastly, it was my turn.  Tim put up the huge number of 51 pushups in 60 seconds and if I couldn’t beat it, I’d be signing a $500 check in Tim’s name.  More than parting with the money, I can’t stand to lose a challenge.  I was determined to give it everything I had and I was packing a secret weapon.  To ensure I had the edge in the competition, I opted to do double pushup burpees throughout the summer challenge.  If you have never done a double push up burpee, they are crazy hard.  At times I didn’t know if I’d make it all the way through doing them, but I somehow persevered.  Today, the day of reckoning, I felt ready for this challenge.  I started out feeling great, but I hit a wall at 30.  Suddenly I found myself wondering if two days of rest after the completion of the challenge was enough.  I paused for a second and then continued.  It was so close.  In the end, I posted an 18.9% increase squeezing out 53 pushups barely edging out Tim by 2.  What a relief!  If I hadn’t had the CEO imposed advantage of going last, Tim might have gotten me.

In the end, the SoCreate Summer Fitness Challenge was a blast and a huge success.  We got lots of people sweating and pushing themselves to the limit.  It was really hard, but at the same time really rewarding.  It has me already looking forward to next year where I hope you will join in the fun.
Congrats Everyone!

- Justin Couto Founder & CEO

Central Coast Writers' Conference 2016

Justin Schwartzenberger

Another year and another amazing Central Coast Writer's Conference. Once again Teri Bayus and her team ran an incredible event.


The day kicked off with a special keynote presentation by Sam Horn. Filled with inspiration and positive energy, Sam set the tone for the conference. 

The afternoon offered up boot camp sessions with different field focuses. Of course, we spent our time in the "Writing for the Screen" sessions.

The evening brought about the Hollywood's Elite Idea Symposium.


The final day of the conference was loaded with workshop sessions.

  • Aaron Metchik: How to Write a Screenplay You Can Produce Yourself
  • Ken Sherman: The Business of Writing for Screen, Television and the Book Industries
  • Aaron Metchik: Improv to Improve Your Writing
  • Rob Edwards: Creating Characters That Don't Suck


SoCreate End of Summer 2016 Fun Trip

Justin Schwartzenberger

As the summer of 2016 came to a close it was time for the SoCreate team to make another run at a company fun trip. We decided to recreate the experience from June 2012 and hit up K1 Speed in Anaheim, California for some go-kart action one day and Universal Studios in Universal City, California for a VIP tour the next. So we rented a big old 12 passenger van and hit the road.

 Day one began with a stop for lunch in Studio City at Cocina Condesa for some Mexican street food. It was one of those hot, late summer afternoon days in sunny southern California, and while eating our lunch street side was a killer vibe, everyone was happy to get back into the air conditioned van when we were done. But no one was excited about chillin' in traffic through L.A. on the way down to Anaheim.

A good majority of our team had experienced the K1 race-off from 2012, but there were some that were on their way to their first "fast" go-kart experience. Tips were shared, strategies were "Googled" and everyone hoped that the warehouse that held the track wouldn't end up being one thousand degrees.

In 2012 we went to the K1 Speed in Irvine, which had a multi track layout. The one in Anaheim was a single giant track that ran under a walkway and had lots of interesting lines. And, the temperature was moderate...aside from the head sock and helmet that one had to wear that made your head bake like an oven. We were on the track three times:

  • Once for a warm up of 12 laps
  • A second run for a time trial (fastest lap) of 14 laps
  • A final race with positioning based on previous time trial of 16 laps

The whole team had a blast, from passing one another to rubbing rails and even a few pit maneuvers.

While our 2012 experience had us racing with other random people, this time around it was just our team on the track. That definitely made for a great team experience. We even learned a few things about each other. Some have a hidden competitiveness in them, others drive 100% different than they do in a car, and some apparently have a magnetic pull for small chunks of tire.

Upon finishing a late afternoon of racing we headed over to the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach for some dinner at Patty Macs. This place has gourmet mac 'n cheese that is out of this world. After that we headed to our hotel, where a hand full of us stayed awake in the lobby well past midnight sharing stories of the past and solving different mysteries with a bunch of creative thinking and a bit of judgement.

The next morning we set out to make our way up to Universal Studios for the VIP tour. As the team hopped in the unmarked rented van we were approached by another couple at the hotel, who politely asked if this was the bus to the airport. While it was tempting to tell them that we were part of Air SoCreate (we were all wearing the same shirt after all), we respectfully broke the news to them that they were probably going to have to Uber to the airport because we were not the shuttle they were looking for.

After a few hours of Monday morning traffic on 405, 110 and 101 we made it to Universal Studios, but not in time to catch the start of our VIP tram ride. So we opted into going on the normal tram.

Then we hit the rides before a catered all-you-can-eat lunch.

 And we finished that off with a VIP tour of the back lot.

It's always interesting to visit a place that is part tourist theme park and part working studio. While the rides and "Hollywood" shops are neat, our team certainly enjoyed the opportunity to walk the lots, see the props, and hear the stories of the industry work that goes on there.

So we closed the summer of 2016 out with a bang and are refreshed and rejuvenated as we approach fall and the end of the year. Next up is the annual Central Coast Writers Conference in our home town, an event that we are proud to sponsor and attend.