How Do I Format A Quote At The Beginning Of A Script?

How To Format A Quote

ANOTHER scriptwriting-related question – it’s been quite the week for them – but this time, just a kwikkie on format from Wade Glenn:

I’ve seen a lot of films end their opening credits sequences with famous quotations that are thematically relevant to the film. I want to do this but I’m wondering … How do you format a quote in a script?

and

If I decide to use a quote, do I have to mention a credits sequence? Or do I just put it somewhere after “FADE IN”?

There’s no real “rule” for quotes generally. That said, you probably shouldn’t mention a credits sequence, which is seen as a production decision.  I would also not recommend putting quotes on the title page. I see quotes most often on p2, on an otherwise blank page.

If you are using Final Draft, go to Title Page > then scroll down to p2 of the title page. Or you could put it on page 1 of your actual script file. Either is fine.

A Couple Of Last Pointers

Readers see A LOT of quotes that are often rather obscure and/or don’t seem to really ‘inform’ the story.  Also,  if the “theme” (aka point, message, etc) is not obvious from the telling of the story, will it be obvious from a quote or vice versa? It also seems to me to be more of a director’s thing, really.

Another note of caution … Try not to include the same-old, same-old quotes. Of the quotes I see most often, love song and metal lyrics win by a country mile. Up next, probably ‘fire and brimstone’-style Bible quotes. Both make me groan a bit ‘cos they *feel* over-used. Like most things screenwriting-related however, every now and again I see a quote that fit PERFECTLY though and then it really works.

But overall, if you really want to include a quote, there’s no reason why you can’t.

Don’t Forget

Don’t forget, The Format One Stop Shop covers teasers, title pages, copyright symbols, Intercut, VO, flashbacks, scene description and more… Check out all the issues I see most frequently on the page, HERE. That way you can make an informed decision on what (if anything) you want to do about them.

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2 thoughts on “How Do I Format A Quote At The Beginning Of A Script?”

  1. Thanks again for answering this for me.

    I actually just found an article on Screenwriting.info that says, "Don't put a second page with the quotation that tells the theme of your screenplay," putting it in the same category as illustrations and fancy fonts.

    The site doesn't have an about page, so I don't know the writer's credentials, but it does make me question whether doing so would irritate a reader enough to throw my script into the slush pile as they likely would for the aforementioned other examples.

  2. No problem.

    I can't answer for *all* readers obviously, but I certainly have never thrown a script out for having a quote on a second page. Personally, I wouldn't get too hung up about it – if a reader is SO easily offended by something tiny like this, I think we have to ask ourselves if we were *ever* really in with a chance of getting a "proper" read? (ie. if it wasn't the positioning of the quote, it's only going to be *something else* – ie. they're looking for an excuse NOT to read your script).

    But whilst this sort of thing does happen, I'd wager most readers are not going to be bothered in the slightest AND most worth their salt actually WANT to find good scripts/stories.

    But if in doubt, stick it on page 1 above FADE IN, rather than the title page I'd say is your best bet.

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