Screenplay Lost Formatting

This might be helpful to bug hunters. I opened a screenplay I had been working on, and noticed that all the formatting was General Text. The spacing all looked okay, but all the elements were General Text.

After some anxiety, I looked in the screenplay element menu at the bottom of the window and noticed that it was different than what I remembered – had elements “set description” and “character list.” I then went to the Format>Scriptwriting menu and saw that the script mode was “Stage Play (US)”. I clicked to change that to Screenplay, and got a message asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this. I clicked yes and the formatting all changed back.

I checked back thru my backups and found a few versions that opened in Stage Play and then a little bit older one that opened in Screenplay. The other day I tried to import a stage play from a Word template (unsuccessfully) and this must of somehow changed my script to Stage Play format – and all the lines to General Text.

So if it appears you lost your screenplay formatting, check to see that you are still in screenplay mode.

Kennpreb, thanks a lot for this hint.
I was just about to really freak out because this happened to me yesterday just before a deadline. All had changed to “General Text”, even though it looked fine. But as I kept writing, the shortcuts produced all kinds of strange formatting.
It’s actually not the first time this has happened, just the last time I had the option to just go on working in Final Draft (which I viscerally hate, by the way)
I knew an older bug that sometimes made single documents jump out of “scriptwriting” mode, but this one seemed much worse.
Actually I found no indication what the actual template was (is there any way to see this?). But when I just selected Screenplay again, the message came up, just like you said, and after clicking okay it was all back to normal. Big relief.
The last thing I had done before after a long week of writing was to compile for use in Final Draft.
(But nothing like trying to import from another format or such, absolutely no messing with the template settings whatsoever)

I’ve had this happen, too. Everything in General Text (I wish one could edit THAT format) but the spacing and margins fine. Alternatively, the document loses track of the fact it’s in scriptwriting format; hitting cmd-8 restores it as it should be. I don’t remember this kind of thing before 2.0; maybe it was there and I didn’t notice, or maybe it snuck in.

The way scriptwriting works is the same in 2.0 as 1.0, although there could occasionally be problems opening a 1.x project in 2.0 with scriptwriting.

When you see “General Text”, all this means is that the formatting in the script does not match the formatting of any of the elements set up under Formatting > Scriptwriting > Script Settings… The only formatting checked is the paragraph formatting - the indents, line spacing and tab stops in the text must match those set up in the Script Settings. So, if you’ve changed any of these, or changed the Script Settings and cancelled the “Convert” pane that automatically pops up afterwards, you may encounter this problem.

If you do encounter this problem and it’s throughout your script, you can open Script Settings and from the “Manage…” button at the bottom use the “Use current font & paragraph settings” tool. You just select each element one-by-one in the Script Settings list, click into some text in your script that should be recognised as being that element, and then go to “Use current font & paragraph settings”.

One other issue I have seen has been caused - I think! - by editing text in the Windows version. Even if you haven’t done that, though, the following is worth a try. Basically, on the Mac, there are five possible text alignments - left, centred, right, justified and natural. You never see “natural” - it’s something under the surface, part of the OS X text system, and it will show text as either left- or right-aligned depending on the language. However, scriptwriting mode doesn’t really support that and “natural” should never be present in script files. I have seen it in one script, though - I’m not sure how it got there, whether it was a file saved in Windows or whether it was edited externally somehow. The fix is easy for this, though - you just select all the text and click on the left-alignment button in the formatting bar to force it to be left-aligned (even if it looks as though it already is).

So, if you see text recognised as “General Text” and yet it seems fine to you, try setting its alignment to left to begin with. I’ve fixed this in the next update so that “natural” text still gets recognised properly, but it’s something to try if you see this problem in the meantime.

All the best,

Helpful as always, Keith. I think this may be an offshoot of the little script settings bug I reported – the pane doesn’t go away, I think “Well sod this”, hit Cancel and…

Who knows? It doesn’t keep me awake at night. (Or during the day, for that matter.)

Hi Michael,

Ah, yes - that pane not going away may well have been responsible for the problem in your case. We didn’t get to the bottom of that did we?

Thanks and all the best,


I have been having this problem as well. Whenever I change any of the settings for elements in the script settings menu, the pop-up dialog box gets “stuck” and my only option is to press cancel. When that happens, it messes up the formatting on my script.

It was changing everything to general text, but just recently, it has changed all of my “Actions” into “Scene Headings” and all of my “Scene Headings” into shots.

Is this something that could be fixed in the near future? I love Scrivener for writing my novels, LOVE IT!!! I can’t really afford Final Draft or MM Screenwriter right now and Celtx is pain to work with for writing TV episodes, so I really would like Scrivener to work for writing screenplays.

Second minor issue I’ve noticed: The dialogue will often split at the bottom of the page and continue into the next page. Action will also split in the middle of a paragraph as well. Is there a setting that will make an element stay together? I tried “Keep With Next” but that didn’t work.

Thank you!


I haven’t been able to reproduce this problem, unfortunately. Are you definitely on the latest version of Scrivener (2.3.1)? If so, could you please zip up a project that exhibits the issue whereby the convert script formatting freezes and send it to us at AT literatureandlatte DOT com for testing, along with instructions on what we need to do to see the problem?

As for dialogue splitting at the bottom of the page and suchlike, that is normal, as Scrivener does not handle advanced formatting such as widow and orphans - that is left to an external word processor or script program.

Many thanks and all the best,

Hi Keith

I have sent you an email.

Thank you!