Character Heading Basics

The basic function of a Character Heading is to cue the actor (or a group of actors) as to when he/she needs to deliver a line. They are ALWAYS followed by either Dialogue or a Parenthetical (which would then be followed by Dialogue).

Basic Rules:

  • AKA: Character Cue, Character Caption, Character Slug

  • Margins/Indents: DO NOT CENTER on the page! Left Indent: 4". Right Indent: None

    Opinions as to the left margin vary depending on which expert you ask. Some say 3.5" from left page edge (this is also the Final Draft default). Still others agree on 4" from left page edge, while one expert gets REALLY specific (4.1" in The Hollywood Standard by Christopher Riley). The leading experts in the field tend to put it at 4". I'd go with that. As far as the right margin is concerned, Final Draft defaults it to 7.25" from the left page edge. But most experts don't specify a right margin requirement for Character Headings. Basically, if your character's name is THAT long, you likely need to change it.

  • Capitalization: Type in ALL CAPS. The ONLY exception to this rule is if you have a name such as McDONALD, DeWALT, MacINTYRE, or something to that effect. In those cases, lowercase the necessary letters of the name.

  • Spacing: Double-space before a Character Heading and single-space after.

  • Titles and Surnames: Abbreviate titles such as DOCTOR (DR. JONES), MISTER (MR. JONES), and CAPTAIN (CAPT. JONES).

  • Important Tip: However you refer to your characters throughout your screenplay in Direction paragraphs is how you will refer to them in Character Headings.

  • Important Tip: Screenwriters generally refer to good guys by their first names in Character Headings and bad guys by their last names in Character Headings.