Transition Basics

WARNING: Transitions should be used very rarely, and ONLY if absolutely necessary to communicate a special effect that takes the film from one scene to the next, or if the change between the scenes is not obvious.

Amateur screenwriters use Transitions far too often. Most screenplays can be written with no transitions whatsoever (other then FADE IN: and FADE OUT.).

Here are some of the Basic Uses and Formatting Rules for Transitions:

  • AKA: Scene Ending

  • Margins/Indents: 6" from left page edge.

    Some experts simply place Tranisitions right-justified on the page. But most experts place them at 6" from the left-page edge, leaving only 1.5", or around 15 characters in which to type the Transition. However, if the Transition is too long, simply back off the right margin until it fits on one line. The Final Draft default is 5.5". That's fine, too.

  • What They Do: Instruct how to move from one scene to the next if the change between the two scenes is not obvious.

  • Basic Rules: Type in ALL CAPS and almost always follow by a colon.

  • Not Too Many: Limit yourself to 2 to 3 per screenplay.

  • One Line: Do not allow a Transition to take up more than one line of the page. If a Transition is too long, change the margins, or back it off the right margin.