Exporting a Screenplay

Greetings all,

Last night I fished work on the third draft of my screenplay at 113 printed pages (it’s my first draft using Scrivener though). When I exported it, I was very surprised to discover that, while the on-screen version contained all the desired formatting the exported version contained none. Worse still, Scrivener now says I’m at only 93 printed pages. The actual print out, while it will suffice for review purposes, leaves much to be desired in that there are now page numbers and my right margin appears to be 0.1" with the left being 2". I’m guessing that my inexperience with the product is resulting in such a rough first export. Hey, I test a 3D modeling application for a living, so I know all too well that users make mistakes.

So then… What did I miss? Why did exporting the binder reformat everything? Why is my script shifted an inch to the right on paper? Why is it 20 pages shorter after being exported? Anyone else using Scrivener to write screenplays have some pointers for me on using this tool? And, finally, why is it that I can only seem to use the Script formatting in full screen mode?

Of course, I do realize that it may not be possible for you to answer some of those questions without actually having my file. I say it to my users all of the time. However, I do imagine that you can venture a guess or know of a common pitfall that awaits new users such as myself.

By default, Compile Draft is set to override the text formatting with standard manuscript formatting. You don’t want this to happen when exporting a script. In Compile Draft, under Formatting, turn off “Override text formatting”.

In File > Page Setup > Settings > Scrivener > Margins, make sure your margins are set how you want them; also check you have the correct paper size selected.


I see, so the exporting bit isn’t as automated as I had hoped. I suppose that’s alright, for now. :slight_smile:

I am curios to know if there are plans to add support for other film script specific features? Specifically I mean automatically adding Shot numbers to Slug lines, (Cont.) where appropriate, forcing character and dialog to stay together as appropriate, and so on.

Now that I’ve finished the current draft and it’s being reviewed for the Producer and Director, I have some time to work on other writing projects. I run role-playing games at game conventions in the San Francisco Bay area so I’m going to try using Scrivener as a tool to manage the writing and planning of those events.

Thanks for the quick reply.

Once you setup the preferences once though, they will be set from then on.

And if you wish to use them for multiple projects, you can save them and load them as you wish. For my novels, I have saved preferences for paper saving printing (1.5 spacing instead of 2x) which I load when I am printing for myself, and another setting that is “publisher” settings.

Then all you need to do is make sure you have “preserve formatting” selected or deselected for each document as desired.


Exactly - it’s as automated as you want it to be. Had you used the screenplay project template (installed with the Extras) you wouldn’t have had to change the export settings. And you can create your own templates with whatever export settings you want so that you don’t have to change anything in future projects.

As for sluglines, keeping stuff together when printing etc - no, there are no plans to add anything like that. Scrivener isn’t a page layout program, so for all of that you will need to export to a dedicated word processor or script program such as Final Draft.

All the best,

Oh, that’s just the thing, I did use the Script template (for Final Draft). At least, I thought I did. Maybe I inadvertently imported my rtf script into a basic new project. Hmmm, that might explain things. I would have sworn I imported it into a Script template.

So, if I can save and load settings, then worse case scenario sounds like I create a new empty project using the Script template and then save the export settings (is export different from compile) and load them into my existing project.

Okay, I have just discovered that I was being a colossal moron; I didn’t actually write my screenplay in screenplay mode. Yup, totally didn’t realize that. Now that I have I see that it would have been infinitely easier. I am wondering if it matters that I wrote the thing (not the whole script of course, I wrote most of it in Word using a screenplay macro, but then found… anyway) not in screenplay mode? Moving on, two questions:

  1. I’m wondering how others have used the Binder section to organize their screenplay. I made each scene its own text file. Is there another, perhaps better way to organize things?

  2. So, I tried the suggestion of loading the export settings for Screenplay. I noticed that it always changes the export format to text and turns on override formatting. When I use this export, my text file has the entire script left justified. I’m guessing that this is because it’s a text file and that the purpose of this is that it is intended to then be imported into something like Final Draft for proper formatting. If so, well that’s fine then. My producer/director keeps telling me to stop worrying about the format because he has to make a shooting script anyway.

Either way, I find this to be one seriously useful writing tool. I’ve created a project in which I can write up the plots for all of the role-playing games I run throughout the years (that’s about a dozen convention events plus a bi-weekly campaign).

Best Regards,

Thanks for your kind words about Scrivener.

As for the screenplay export - yes, the screenplay setting exports to plain text by default, which knows nothing of styles so will have it all left-justified. And as you have gathered, this is so that it can be imported into Final Draft, which will interpret most elements fine and reformat it as it should be.

If you would rather export to a different word processor (such as Word), you’ll have to create your own export settings, most likely using the .DOC format and choosing not to override any fonts etc.

Hope that helps.
All the best,