THE FIRST THING anyone sees when looking at a script should be the title page. If you don’t include one, don’t expect the script to be read.
Just as important as including a title page in the first place though is what you put on the page.
There are only 3-4 things that should be on the title page for your script…
- Script Title
- Writer’s Name
- Contact Details
…and, only if relevant, the fourth element…
- Adaptation Information
A Word About the Basics: I’ll cover this properly below but a key point that can’t be stress enough relates to the font. Stick with Courier, size 12. Final Draft Courier is perfect, as is Courier Prime.
This is pretty self explanatory but there are still mistakes that can be made.
Positioning: Titles should be centered, 4″ from the top of the page.
Don’t change the font: A lot of writers like to change the font to make the title stand out. While this can look good and a lot of production companies do the same, as a writer looking to place a script an alternative font can do more harm than good.
Format and presentation is very important for many reasons and a deviation in font on the front page can create negative connotations that the reader carries through into the script.
Don’t change the font size: Much like changing the action font, it’s a bad idea to change the size of the font, even slightly. Again it risks creating a negative impression before the story has even started.
Put the title in uppercase: Using uppercase – as pretty much every screenwriting software will do for the title – is one of only three acceptable forms of emphasis for a title. The other two are:
Feel free to underline the title: It’s not a necessity but it’s pretty common to see a title underlined. With or without, it’s really up to the writer.
Put the title in bold if it’s part of your style: This is less common and not recommended to use in conjunction with underlining as it’ll look too busy. The main time a bold title works is if you’re the type of writer who places all of their scene headers into bold.
This is pretty easy: you need either “screenplay by” or “written by” depending on your preference, followed by your name.
Position: 4 lines down from the title and centered.
Writing Under a Pen Name: If you’re writing under a pseudonym put that instead of your real name.
Using “&” or “and”?: If the screenplay was written by two people who worked together as a team, use “&” to link the two names. If the script was written by one writer, then worked on independently by another (at a different time for example) then use “and” instead.
Differentiating Between Story and Script: If the story came from one person and the script from another then both need to be credited accordingly. Put the writer’s name as explained above, then two lines down, repeat the layout, this time with “story by” instead of written by.
This is where a lot of writers tend to make mistakes. They put too much information or the wrong type of details and end up souring the reader on their work before they’ve even looked at the first page.
Position: At the bottom of the title page. If you have an agent you need to put their information on the left, yours on the right. Don’t have an agent? Your contact details can go on the left.
The easiest way to think about contact position is as an order of priority – the most important person goes on the left, the less important on the right.
They Already Know Your Name: Unless you want them to contact someone other than yourself, there’s no need for your name to be with your contact details. They know who you are by looking at your title page credit.
They Don’t Need Your Address: Postal addresses are out of favour and no longer needed. If someone is interested in your script they’ll either want to call or email you. Including an address will mark you out as inexperienced.
No Silly Email Addresses: You want to be seen as a professional so avoid silly email addresses, even if that means creating a new one.
There’s nothing wrong with @gmail or @outlook if that’s what you have as long as the main part of the email is adult and professional. If you happen to have a domain based on your name that’s even better as it adds to the air of professionalism.
A word of warning would be not to use a work email address or one that tries to pass you off as something you’re not. If you’re planning to put “yourname@plumbingsupplies” or “info@bigimportantfilms” then don’t. Try to imply you’re a production company, or use a company address that suggests you’re not absolutely serious about being seen as a working writer and there’s a good chance the only page of the script to see daylight will be the title page.
Phone Number: In reality you can put either your home number (if you still have a landline) or your mobile. Obviously you don’t want to be putting a work number. I personally would recommend a home phone number if you life with anyone else. You don’t want someone else creating a bad first impression on your behalf.
If you’re submitting an adaptation of an existing work then you’ll need to note that fact on the title page. Like the screenplay title and the name of the screenwriter this should be centered.
What it’s Based On: Two lines below your/the screenwriter’s name is where the key information goes. It starts with, “based on…” and then you fill in the blanks with the relevant information: “based on the novel Bob and Sue by John Doe.”
Secure the Rights: If you’re doing an adaptation the original property either needs to be in the public domain (check your local laws) or you need to have legally secured the rights. If you don’t have the rights, do not submit it.
What Not to Put
There are a few things that more inexperienced writers tend to clutter the title page with that really shouldn’t be there. Granted, some of it seems like a logical inclusion but, if you intend on putting any of this on your title page, definitely don’t:
- Draft Number
- Copyright Notice
- Company Logo
- WGA Information
Put simply any and all of the above will make you look paranoid and amateur. Keep it simple, look professional.