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U.S. vs. Canadian Formatting

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Q: I've been bouncing some ideas for comedy TV scripts, so I bought a script-formatting book. The book is published in the U.S and I live in Canada. I was wondering if formatting rules are any different between the U.S and Canada. And what is the best formatting program to use? Thanks for the help. —Jennifer Hansford

A: This is a great question—so great, in fact, that I found myself completely stumped. After all, I don't know anyone who's submitted (or considered submitting) to a Canadian outlet. Luckily, I know people who know people. And those people often help make me look smart.

I summoned the help of WD resident scriptwriting expert, Script Notes' Chad Gervich. He contacted Alex Epstein, a Canadian screenwriter who has created shows for TV networks in both the U.S. and Canada and has written the book Crafty Screenwriting: Writing Movies That Get Made. He also runs the popular scriptwriting blog Complications Ensue.

According to Epstein, there are no differences between U.S. and Canadian formats. He also says that Canadian scriptwriters use the same programs as their American counterparts, such as Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, ScriptThing, etc. So when writing your script, stick to the standard formats found in scriptwriting books (and software).

Thanks to both Chad and Alex for their help—and for making me look smarter than I am.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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