Screenwriting: Page breaks

Please, could Scrivener’s screenplay mode indicate where the bottom of
each 54-line page is? It would be a big help.

I KNOW! I know. Scrivener is NOT a page-layout program. I get it.

Thing is, in screenwriting, you can’t separate the content from the form
the way you can in novel writing or journalism. Screenplays have
strict formats for practical reasons that affect the writer.

It’s important to know how many pages a scene or a sequence takes.
Often, you have to revise your work to accommodate page requirements.
So you need to know where one page ends and the next begins, and how the
edits you’re making change the page break.

54 lines is pretty standard in the industry. Final Draft and Cole &
Haag both use 54 lines. It would be nice if the page length was
adjustable, but if you had to pick a number, 54 lines is the best.

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t have to be a full-blown page break.
It could be as simple as changing the color of every 54th line
dynamically, to show where the last line of the page will fall. Or
maybe putting a caret or other marker character in the margin –
whatever the OSX text system would easily allow.

Please consider adding an indicator to break pages at 54 lines per page.


Hmm, I’m really not sure about this one, and certainly not in the near future. I have always said that this is the sort of thing that Scrivener wouldn’t do, so it’s not like I’ve misled anyone. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the suggestion,

No, you haven’t misled anyone. :wink: I bought Scrivener with my eyes open.:open_mouth:

I’m just asking for features that will let me do my job inside of this delightful program. Just bare bones screenwriting features.
Would you consider throwing screenwriters a bone in the short term and adding some kind of “54th Line” indicator? Change color? Dotted underline? Dingbat in the margin? :arrow_right:

Thanks for being open to requests.

But how would that help when the line length is dynamic?

I find that doing a print preview gives me a reasonable estimate when I really need it.

Well, I asked for fixed line length/hard right margin in another post. :smiley:


I agree with popcornflix. I’m in a graduate screenwriting program and I’ve used Scrivener to create a new step outline for a feature draft (written with Celtx).

I would love to go right into Screenplay mode, but the lack of on-screen page count or indicator is troubling. All class exercises, finals, and scholarship/contest/film festival admissions have page count limits. Also, any professional consideration for representation takes page count into account; too many or too little could mean the difference between getting read or getting your script thrown out. I know you have professional friends using Scrivener already, but some of us are still total unknowns. :smiley:

On a creative level, it’s something I need to see as I go; I break down acts into sequences and each sequence runs 12-15 pages. A page count let’s me know if my scenes are under- or overweight.

I know there are ways to preview the number of pages when exporting/printing, etc., but any page count/indicator that could be added while typing on the fly would make a great program PERFECT.

Maybe this is something that can’t be done in full screen, because of resizing. Maybe page count could be an option for Screenplay mode only. Or maybe resizing full screen is NOT an option when in Screenplay mode. I’m not sure what the answer is, if there’s one at all. But as you have gone through the lengths to include the screenplay format as it is, what would it hurt to add?

I am not positive about this, but I am pretty sure that the paperback counter is fairly close to a manuscript estimate, too. Yes it is not 100% accurate (and nothing put a page layout program could be), but it should give you a ballpark for your assignments. Eventually you will get an intuitive feel for how much material a page is. So if you know you need to cut five pages, you’ll be able to do that without a recount. But until then, you might try seeing how close Project Statistics comes for you, in practice.

If that does work for you, I would imagine that adding the page counter to Selection would be fairly simple – and that would give you a way of getting rough page counts from sections of your Draft.

I’ve used Ulysses, and it has a page counter. It works by defining the number of characters per line and the lines per page in the preferences. It’s simple and works great. No need for any page break indicators, only a page count next to the word and character count.

As a simple alternative, you can take a few pages of your script in a layout app, apply the correct formatting, then count the average words per page. As you have a word count in Scrivener, simply divide the word count with your average words per page, and you have your page count. It’s hardly precise, but it works fairly well, give or take maybe a page. After a while, you will be able to count pages by looking at the word count.

KB is going to do what he’s going to do about the screenplay page break. I’m not holding my breath.

All the same, TextEdit has the same pref as Ulysses, but TE generates page breaks onscreen from those settings. That would solve the problem very nicely.

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:

If it’s all the same to you, I’ll keep hoping for a page break…

TextEdit shows pages breaks by having a page layout view. This is not part of the standard OS X system but something that Apple coded. TextEdit is open source, but I have no intention of including a page layout view in Scrivener as it’s outside Scrivener’s scope.

I asked this question once before and would be most interested if anyone has an answer:

If so, is it of any value to screenwriter? What are its pluses, its minuses?



Since you determine Scrivener’s scope, you’re actually saying “I’m not going to include this feature because I decided not to.” :wink:

I think you’ll agree that since you began Scrivener, you has sneaked over the scope boundary again and again, when you want to. (MMD, Stageplay, Screenplay, etc?) Developer’s privilege.

If it helps, you could consider the page break a “live preview” mode instead of a “page layout” mode, which could fall within Scrivener’s scope.

As I said, I’m not holding my breath. :confused:

I did indeed determine the scope, and everything that has been included has either been within it or only stretched it a little. A page layout view is definitely, 100%, out of the scope of Scrivener. Please accept this. :slight_smile: I have said from day 1 that Scrivener is not a page layout program. It does not and will not ever show you how your text will actually look on the page whilst you are writing. It is about hammering out the words, not about formatting.

If I added a page layout view, the way comments and footnotes work would have to change, and suddenly all of my development time would be spent programming a word processor rather than a writer’s management and organisational tool. Scrivener can never compete with Mellel, Nisus or Final Draft on this front, and nor would I want it to. If you think this should be part of Scrivener, you have missed it’s whole point. I am one man. I cannot make Scrivener into a tool that is better than Final Draft at screenwriting, better than Nisus at word processing and do everything else that Scrivener was really designed for. This is unrealistic.

There will not be a page layout view in Scrivener. End of. I would say “sorry”, but I’m not. :slight_smile:


For me, Final Draft will now supplement Scrivener. For getting to that Rough Draft, Scrivener is a far better writing environment than Final Draft. When I want to print out a draft, I will just then export in text, and Final Draft will import it beautifully, formatting everything correctly. Of course, you can also use Mellel or Pages for the layout, but having Final Draft will make it faster. For me, Scrivener will be about the developing and writing, and apps like Final Draft will be for layout and production.

Will a page count like in Ulysses also be out of the question? (Defining characters per line and lines per page for the page count in preferences?) This would not be about page layout, only a counting preference, so technically within the scope of your app’s philosophy.

Theoretical page count, and even having a line in the text view to represent pages based on number of lines per page, is not out of the question, and I may look at it in a 1.x release. It is just full page layout that is definitely out of the question. Also, I ask for a little patience from those who are really pushing for this, which is why I don’t like to make promises. :slight_smile:

We live in hope.

Quiet, patient hope.

'nuff said. :wink:

I’m going to have to add my voice to this chorus.

While I most certainly understand (and even applaud) the decision to not include a page layout mode, I can’t help but agree that some indication of page breaks (while writing) is almost required for proper screenwriting.

If the alternatives didn’t suck so hard, or if Scrivener wasn’t so damn good, maybe we wouldn’t have to be such crybabies – but as it is, Scrivener is so close to thrusting a stake into the cold dead heart of Final Draft that you can hardly blame us!

My suggestion would be to use a words per line, and lines per page count to calculate rough pages breaks, indicated by a simple line. Nothing more is needed for us to do our jobs.

There is an issue here, and it is one of speed. Because Scrivener uses a rich text system, technically you can have any number of fonts in use at any one time. True, when screenwriting you are unlikely to use these, but it is still possible. Thus, it would not be enough for Scrivener to say, “Oh look, this user has preferences set to use a 12-point Courier font, so let’s just mark page breaks every 54 x 12 points”. Because some lines might be in a bigger font, if the fancy so took you. So Scrivener would instead have to calculate the bounding rect of every line in your text in order to place page break indicators at the right point. In a long text, this would be a lot of calculating of font sizes, which could slow things down. True page layout doesn’t have this issue because each page is a separate container and text just spills over to the next, but true page layout would bring numerous issues to Scrivener (what to do with footnotes and annotations? Would Scrivener suddenly have to be a word processor as well?).

So, I do see why people want this, but there are good reasons I am holding back.

Oh, and here’s another issue: it is possible to insert a page break via Edit > Insert (just as it is in TextEdit. This is actually an invisible unicode character, and it’s not a great way of doing things, but it is possible in the Apple rich text system. Supposing you did this - suddenly Scrivener has to look for these and put indicators in these places, too… The whole taks is actually a lot more complicated than it at first seems. It is, to use the technical jargon, “non-trivial”, which is why it is unlikely to make it into a release any time soon.

All the best,

Thank you for explaining the technical issues. Some thoughts:

Since page layout is beyond the scope of Scrivener, and screenwriting is a unique case that requires indicating/counting pages, why not make page breaks/counting specific to screenwriting only?
By activating the “show screenplay pages” pref, Scrivener could limit the Draft to the use of a single monofont. Then the case is so limited that you can say:

If it’s a headache to figure out which are monofonts, just show an alert that says “If the font you select is not monospace, your pages will not be accurate.”

Disable Edit>Insert Page Break if ScreenPlay Page Breaks are active. When first activated, do a Search & Replace for the unicode character. There’s no reason to need a forced page break for a screenplay in Scrivener. You can make a new item in the Binder and set it to create a page break. (If you want to offer super-convenience, provide the option to replace the unicode character with a split.)

Have these ideas, nudged page breaks away from the non-trivial? :wink:

P.S. – I imagine that it would be helpful to have a pref to define how many lines per page, in case they’re writing for TV instead of feature films. (Feature films are 54 lines, but different TV shows have their own count. Some series insist on 56 because production breaks scripts into 8ths, and 56 divides into 7 lines per 8th of a page.)