Formatting Scripts for Voice-Over Talent

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the February, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Travis, the voice-over guy, sent out a newsletter recently containing tips for formatting your scripts for voice over talent. These were such helpful ideas I asked his permission to reprint them here.

Not only will these tips help save you money, but they will allow your talent to give a more effective read.


(1) Double Space your script.
Double spacing allows your talent to make corrections or notes between the lines. Double spacing is also easier to read.


(2) Use a Font With Serifs.
Fonts come in two basic styles – serif and sans serif. The “serifs” on the Times Roman font are there to guide the eye and make the text easier to read. Helvetica or Arial fonts (sans serif) are intended to be used as titles. While Helvetica or Arial looks cleaner, with a more “graphic” look, it’s actually harder to read. This font (Times Roman) has serifs. This one (Arial) does not. This is the standard Font for Hollywood scripts. -12-point Courier, which is a serif font.


(3) Write Out Loud.
Be sure your writer actually speaks the words as they write. Otherwise the words will be written for the eye, instead of for the ear.


(4) Don’t write in all caps.
Many years ago, the teletype machines used in radio and TV stations didn’t have lower case characters, so the copy that the talent read was always in capital letters. As a result, some people mistakenly thought that the scripts were written all in uppercase because they were easier to read–a belief that has persisted to this day. This is wrong. Capital letters inform the reader that a sentence has started, that a particular noun is a proper one, or that a group of words is actually a title.


(5) Be careful with run-on sentences.
In written text, if a sentence is complicated, we can easily go back and re-read that sentence if we don’t understand something. That’s difficult to do with the spoken word. Also, when a sentence is long, your voice talent might need to take a breath mid-sentence, which disturbs the flow and the listener’s comprehension. Always keep your sentences as short and direct as possible.

Thanks, Travis!


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