View Full Version : British screenplay format

harlequin death rebel
12-15-2003, 07:08 AM

Can anyone give me an idea on how screenplays for the British market differ from American screenplays in format, materials, etc? Is American standard letter paper used or A4 paper? Are the tabs and margins at all different? How many braids? How many punch holes? What is the current British format for slugs? Is there any particular format for the front page?

I'd appreciate any pointers you could give.

Thanks for your time,


E J Pennypacker
12-15-2003, 10:21 AM
The Brits are so used to recieving SP's in US format, and paper, and all that jazz, they would hardly batter en eye lid.

So just go ahead and post it, they wont mind.


12-15-2003, 03:29 PM

Out of curiosity, what size is A4 paper? I actually looked this up on the internet, under some paper supply house, but the size given (which said inches, but maybe it was supposed to be centimeters) was too big for any kind of manuscript preparation.

So what size is it? Is A4 the standard size for manuscripts, correspondence, etc.?

Eagerly awaiting your answer ...

12-15-2003, 04:11 PM

According to MS Word, when you select A4 as the paper size, it states the dimensions as 8.27" X 11.69".

E J Pennypacker
12-15-2003, 04:14 PM
A4 is slimmer and taller. And is as commonly used as the US standard paper for letters, faxes, etc.

In general, UK production companies are very savy to US manuscripts, so they wouldn't think bad if you sent one in.


12-15-2003, 04:59 PM
Thanks, guys ... The dimensions that Speezer gave are consistent with what I would expect. I swear I think the advertisement that I saw MUST have misstated the situation by erroneously giving the size in centimeters.

12-16-2003, 04:31 AM
I once submitted a screenplay to this old-time Brit producer, he said "if you can't write it on the back of a @#%$ packet it's not worth reading."

True story.

harlequin death rebel
12-17-2003, 09:49 AM
Thanks guys. Thanks Pennypacker.

BTW -- Ali, did he say what packets the Brits prefer getting their screeplays on?

...hmmm... Are dole packets A4 or letter sized?

12-28-2003, 08:18 AM
Can anyone give me an idea on how screenplays for the British market differ from American screenplays in format, materials, etc?

There's a British market?

No, really -- there's a British market??

Where, who?


12-28-2003, 11:02 AM
Look in the UK Producers' handbook. Many British production companies listed there. I think the BFI publishes it.

12-28-2003, 11:40 AM
It's called the PACT directory.

06-14-2004, 01:38 PM
Thought I'd wake this thread up again.

I used to feel that all this anxiety about brads, card stock covers and paper sizes was a bit anally retentive, if you know what I mean. I can see the argument for using plain paper and standard formatting, but the whole idea that any potentially good story could be missed because of using three brads instead of two... well, that just seems weird to me.

Still, all the questions on this board have got me wondering. My situation is this. I live in Europe, and want to send screenplays to the US. No real problem sending them of course, but production could be tough.

Countries in Europe use A4 as the standard paper size. Letter size paper is very hard to get around here, and the format differences are so small I don't think it matters that much. But still, in a pile of scripts an A4-size would be 'different'. Could be good, could be bad.

In another weird idea, Europe has settled on either 2-ring binders, 4-ring binders or 23-ring binders. And of course, all the books on scriptwriting say: 3-hole paper. Sigh.

Then there's brads. You can get them, but not the Acco brand (even though every other office item you can buy here *is* from Acco). The brads you can buy are not the size specified (1,25 inch). Stores typically stock the smaller and the larger size, and most of them are flimsy-looking 'made in China'. Brads are not that popular here. In an ironic twist, we tend to use Acco 'fasteners'.

So what would you recommend? How do other European writers handle this? Thanks in advance!

-- Nooz

06-14-2004, 03:16 PM
I was in LA a couple of months ago and bought a box of Acco brads. Maybe I should sell them, in pairs, on ebay.co.uk.....
Should have bought some paper as well!

JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
06-15-2004, 06:04 AM
Years ago, when I was commissioned to adapt one of my novels for a UK film company, I did it in BBC TV format (which was what I'd been used to doing), with the UK standard two-hole paper in a bound folder. The producers said it didn't matter as long as it was readable. All they cared about was what I'd written.

Another source--at least it used to be--is the annual Writers and Artists Yearbook. It lists names of production companies and has (or had) a nice section on UK formatting. Well worth buying, too, if you're also looking for literary agents and publishers in the UK.

07-30-2004, 04:34 PM
The format is identical. A UK screenplay is a US screenplay, apart from paper size. Don't add scene numbers, leave out the CUT TO's and DISSOLVES, use very few parentheticals, preferably none at all. Just put in the slug-lines, and page numbers to the top right hand corner of the page - about 1 inch in, and your name and the copyright symbol in a header - that's all that should be in your screenplay other than your story.
Use plain card (You get to choose the colour) for the front and back cover, double hole punch and secure your manuscript with a simple fastener - cheapest is best, oh, and there should be nothing printed on it. After the cover page comes your title page, author's name, address, telephone number, copyright symbol, date. Then it is strait into your script.

You probably know all this so please ignore this posting if it is of no help to you.