Page Break Rules
Okay, here's where the fun begins. Scripts have rather odd pagination rules. I have no explanation for how they evolved except for noticing that they make it so that the reader has less chance of turning the page, starting to read, and then thinking "Who's dialogue is this? Where is this Action taking place?"
You have two choices when it comes to page breaking: 1) Learn all these rules, or; 2) Write your script with Scriptware and never think about the rules. Scriptware takes care of all the pagination rules automatically, as you write. If you delete half of page 5, Scriptware instantly updates all the rest of the page breaks from page 5 through the end of the script so your script is always perfectly formatted, ready to print, submit and sell.
If you don't have Scriptware or, if you still want to know the rules, here they are:
- The first script line on every page should be 1" from the top of the page. The Header, if any, is 1/2" from the top.
- Never end a page with a Scene Heading... unless another Scene Heading is the first thing at the top of the next page.
- Never end a page with a Shot... unless another Shot is the first thing at the top of the next page.
- Never start a page with a Transition.
- If you need to put a page break in the middle of some Action, you can only break the page after at least 2 lines of Action, and only at the end of a sentence. Some studios also insist that the Action at the top of the next page have at least 2 lines as well. If you can't split the Action to fit this rule, don't split it and move the entire Action onto the next page (some people will argue that you don't need to split Action -- just move it to the next page. Why would you do this when it might unnecessarily add pages to your script?).
- Never put a page break between a Scene Heading and a Cast List (in TV and Sitcom scripts).
- Never put a page break after a Cast List element.
- Never put a page break before an END OF ACT or END OF SCENE indicator.
- Never put a page break after a Character Name.
- If you have a Parenthetical directly under a Character name, never put a page break after that Parenthetical.
- If you need a page break in the middle of Dialogue, you can only break the page after at least 2 lines of Dialogue, and only at the end of the sentence. If you have a Parenthetical in the middle of some Dialogue, like this:HILLARY I really wanted to be President myself, but I knew that there was no way... (beat) Unless... well, I couldn't do that, now could I?
... you cannot put a page break after the Parenthetical, but you have the option of putting one before it if you need to (in other words, it's a valid place to put a page break, but it's your own stylistic choice as to whether you do -- we do). Regardless, when you split Dialogue with a page break, put the word "more" or "MORE" in parenthesis on the line after the Dialogue in the same margins as the Character Name. Then, at the top of the next page, repeat the Character Name before the Dialogue and add the Extension (CONT'D) or (cont'd). It's a personal preference for whether you use the uppercase or lowercase "cont'd" and "more."
Click here to see two examples of Dialogue with page breaks. You'll notice that if you have a page break in the Dialogue of a Character that has an Extension, on the second page, you repeat the Extension, then put a semi-colon and a space before the continued indicator.