Screenwriting : Single or Double Space? by Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Single or Double Space?

Let me try to make this as clear as possible (because people on other forums seem to get confused as to the actual question). At the end of each sentence, after the end-punctuation, do professional readers prefer two spaces before the next sentence, or is one space acceptable. I'm not talking about lines between paragraphs, only spaces between sentences. It seems a hotly debated topic online, but I haven't seen any opinions from actual script readers. 3. 2. 1. Go!

Ralph Osgood

Single space. This I have heard from professional writers Craig Mazin and John August (check out their Scriptnotes Podcast on iTunes). It's something that the digital age has changed from the old norm of two spaces. As to professional readers, I would think they are looking more at what you have between the spaces.

Ami Brown

I still have the habit of typing 2 spaces, but when you look at recent novels and e-books they have 1. I don't think it would be a reason for someone to reject your screenplay though. Two spaces just look better in my opinion, but that is just me.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I was so resistant to eliminating that additional space (in general) until about two years ago. I was actually quite surprised at just how quickly it felt natural. Now I think double-spaced copy looks bad. You'd think the industry would keep up with the times. But, you know, they still don't want you to bold or italicize in scripts, so...

William Martell

It's now single space, but it really doesn't matter. If you double space, no one will kick you out of Hollywood.

Eoin O'Sullivan

If you're focused on things as mundane as the spaces at the end of a sentence, rather than the quality of what you're writing, I think you're focusing on the wrong things . . .

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Good. I was worried I'd have to go and add extra spaces throughout. Getting rid of them is easy. Did that years ago.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Eoin, I wholeheartedly agree. I'm ready to start getting my work out there, because it is that good, but a friend pointed out the space thing, and I'd rather not irk readers over petty things like that right off the bat.

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Marcello. If it is THAT good, a reader will be so busy drawn into your story and scrambling to flip/scroll to the next page, they won't even see, nor care, about your spacing, only what happens next.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Eoin, it is THAT good. ;) Alle, you say that with great authority. Would you expound on your experiences? Thanks.

Carlos Pena

John August and Craig Mazin covered this issue on their podcast a couple months ago. They actually stated that ONE space is now accepted in Hollywood.

Gregory Kauffman

When writing a screenplay, which should use a courier font that emulates a typewriter, it is a good idea to use two spaces. This is how the typewriter writers in the early days set the convention because the font is evenly spaced. (in other words, it takes a much space to type an "i" as an "m".) Having said that, it is a convention, and in my decades in theatre the over-riding rule is "when in Rome do as the Romans." So you question is a good one. I use two spaces, in screenplays (but not always when using like a proportional spaced font) because that is how I learned to type. However, if I knew that the reader would prefer one space, that's how I'd go. However, William Martell is right, it probably doesn't matter much.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I'm not sure about legal documents, medical texts, and other technical writings, but the age of the double space is coming to an end. CJ is right, HTML has always eliminated the extraneous space (which used to bug me till I gave it up as well). Most style manuals are switching over to a single space as well. "No known U.S. or international style guide (for languages using a Latin-derived alphabet) currently prescribes the use of a double space after terminal punctuation in final or published work." - But I know that Hollywood clings on to many conventions. I guess this was really an academic query. Like many other screenwriting questions, it seems that there are no universal, unanimous, or definitive answers. Now, the Oxford Comma. Discuss.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

As for the notion that a reader won't be instantly turned off by typos, misspellings, etc., I've never heard anyone in the industry say that is untrue. If you don't bother to have someone proofread your work before submitting it, why would anyone consider you professional?

Derek Ladd

Given the page-length considerations of screenplays, I always use one space between sentences. The difference between one space and two can mean saving a page or more, which can be critical with longer works. I have clients that use one space and others that use two. I always tell them either is fine as long as they're consistent.

Neva J Howell

In college, it was definitely one space, which was foreign to the way I've typed for decades. Took some getting used to but, at college level at least, the double space after the end of a sentence is now in error.

Rachel Miranda Jones

I always use the double space myself. I believe it is a matter of personal preference; however, if you're using single-space purely to reduce the page-length, I'd say you're better off working at chopping out unnecessary parts of the script.

Beth Fox Heisinger

One space is current. Two spaces is old fashioned. The majority of style guides now prescribe the use of one space because it is more preferred these days. But, either one is correct. It is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I find two spaces distracting and unnecessary.

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In