Screenwriting: The Difference Between a TV Script and a Movie Script

There are several differences between a TV script and a movie script. Both scripts require different formatting and layouts. The following steps will help you determine the difference between the two script formats.

Step 1 - Know the Use for Each Type of Script

The first step to distinguish the difference between TV scripts from a movie script is to properly know the use for each type. The TV script is applied in television such as the news, commercials, television sitcoms, and infomercials. A film script is often used in screenplays for feature length movies, theatrical performances, and short films.

Step 2 - Title Page and Cover

After determining what type of script you need to implement for your project you are now able to properly use the title page and cover for your script. The second distinctive difference between a TV and movie script is the title and page cover. The title page of your TV script should contain the title of your show, the episode name, and the name of the writer. The title page for your movie script should contain the title of your film along with the writer listed below.

Step 3 - Script Layout

The third difference between a TV and a movie script is the layout that is contained on each page. In the TV script, the formatting is divided into two columns most commonly referred to as the 1/3; 2/3 TV Script. On the left column all your visual elements for your script will be contained in that area. On the right column of the page, all of your audio sounds will be incorporated in this section. With this dual method, the TV script has the reader to think in dual methods both hearing and seeing.  The movie script contains a layout without columns, but relies on the use of tabs and margins.  Along with the tabs and margins, a movie script contains a lay out which shows all the words formatted and aligned towards the center of the page.

Step 4 - Script Formatting

The final difference that distinguishes a TV script from a movie script is the formatting. The formatting for a TV script relies on the use of capital letters to distinguish the audio portion of your story from your video. The audio column of your script must contain all caps, while your video column remains in upper and lowercase. Another unique difference a TV script has is that it showcases estimated time duration for each section of dialogue. This documented time duration proves to be extremely useful during a live TV production. The format for a movie script on the other hand is a little bit different from TV. A movie script requires caps for the following elements: the character name, scene heading, and shot transition. Along with the use of capital letters, the margins and tabs are broken down to four elements such as the: dialogue, the character, the action, and the scene location. Each element has their own distinctive tab indentation which allows the users to read through a script quickly. Both TV and movie scripts have unique formats and layouts with different purposes. By determining the proper use and difference, you are now able to properly distinguish the difference between a TV and movie script.