To go with my other post about screenplay formatting, here is the margins you can set your word processor at if you do not have access to screenwriting software. These margins are industry standards. It is what script readers will expect to see when they read what you give them; and if there’s one thing that turns screenplay readers off quickly it’s bad format. Bad presentation will get you nowhere. You want to give yourself every chance possible to keep that script reader reading so presentation and appearance are key.
If this post isn’t good enough and you need something more, I’m almost positive Microsoft has a screenwriting template for Microsoft Word still on their website, if you in fact use Microsoft Word to write your screenplays. If I’m mistaken and there is no longer a screenplay template, you’ll have to do things the long way. Another option is to use a search engine and search “Screenplay Templates” or something to that end because while the template may no longer be on Microsoft’s site, it could be hiding out somewhere else. Getting your hands on a template will make the writing process a whole lot easier so try hard to find one.
With that babble out of the way, your top and bottom margins should be set to 1 inch. Your left margin should be set to 1.5 inches. Your right margin should be set at 1 inch. Your character names margin should be set to 3.5 inches. Remember, the first time you introduce your characters their names appear in ALL CAPS, after that you can capitalize their first letter as you would normally. The dialogue margin which appears directly under the character’s name needs to be set at 2.5 inches. Parenthetical margins which is the action, in parenthesis (…), that a character takes while speaking are set to 3 inches. Also remember the parenthetical appears in the dialogue box as below.
I picked up the gun…
…and I shot him in the face.
So there you have it on the margins, pretty simple. My advice is if you’re using Microsoft Word or another word processor, write the screenplay with the default margins first and in the proper format we all know. Once you’re finished, then worry about the margins and overall appearance. Nothing is more agonizing than messing with margins every time you change lines while you’re trying to tell your story. Get the story out first, get it to where you want it and then tackle the presentation. I wrote my first screenplay in MS Word and tweaked it later and I’m no smarter than several breeds of monkey, it works out fine.