Screenwriting : Text messages in screenplays by Craig D Griffiths

Craig D Griffiths

Text messages in screenplays

Anyone got a preferred method or one that they have seen that looks nice and is easy to read.

I am using, person: message all left justified.

Craig: what’s for dinner?

Julie: Don’t care you’re cooking.

I have seen this formatted like dialogue, but I don’t think it reads as well.

CRAIG (text)

What’s for dinner?

JULIE (text)

Don’t care you’re cooking

This second message is similar to O.S. Or V.O.

Anyone got a better suggestion.

Jeff Caldwell

Gets a text from KAT: You wanna go to McKays party tn?

JULES: Hell no those assholes just ran me off the road

KAT: That sucks. Sry.

----------------------------------------------------

She looks at her phone. Texts the guy:

[i’m nervous]

[don’t be]

[promise ur not a serial killer? lol]

[haha promise]

----------------------------------------------------

She taps his profile. And then a NEW MESSAGE from him.

Jules’ heart races.

She opens it: My god, you’re perfect and beautiful and how I

do I meet you for a drink?

Jules pauses... debates it. Takes a deep breath. He writes

her another message: ...tonight?

She closes SCRUFF and texts KAT: So u for sure going to

McKays?

--------------------------------------------------

Those are a few examples from the Euphoria script. The show's pretty tech heavy. The phone text is always written in bold though, I couldn't translate that. The pilot is on script slug if you want to check it out.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I would just suggest making it crystal clear what a character is doing and to whom they are communicating, and make sure that a text message or an IM is clearly differentiated from speaking dialogue. Whatever you do, be consistent.

Example from John August:

MICAH

Hold on. I’ll check.

On the computer - -

MICAH: Red or green?

LISA: Huh?

MICAH: Sauce.

LISA: Green. Red makes me puke.

MICAH

Green for Lisa.

Note the use of italic for the computer screen messages and, of course, regular format and type for speaking dialogue.

Oh, and some forum dwellers may take issue with this, but some images/graphics are finding their way into screenplays as emojis are becoming part of everyday language.

Anyway, hope that helps. ;)

Kay Luke

If you're showing the Texts close in it's technically an insert.

But if the Texting is ongoing, in a spec treat it like a conversation through a car window

INT. ROOM/INT. PHONE SCREEN

and write each Text as TEXT: MESSAGE HERE and format it as a SHOT.

Nick Assunto - Stage32 Script Services

As long as you format it in a clear and consistent way, then you can really do whatever. There's no standard for this. I once read a script that used text bubbles to showcase this, and I really appreciated how professional it came across.

Dan MaxXx

I read a tv pilot spec where the text was in a different font color. Made it easier to read (off a computer screen).

Matthew Barker

Here’s what Dave Trottier (Dr Format) says: https://www.keepwriting.com/tsc/textinginmovies.htm

Imo Wimana Chadband

I was just wondering about this the other day as well, Craig, so i'm glad you brought it up.

Craig D Griffiths

I decided on (TEXT) formatted like(V.O.)

And the text in italics.

It was the easiest to read and flows the best

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