questionmarkI’m working on a script in which there are several IM conversations, not short ones. How do you go about formatting these in your scripts?

– Ben
NYC

Whether text messages or computer-based IMs, my instinct would be to handle them as dialogue blocks. The first time you do it in the script, call it out in scene description.

Hearing a BUZZ, Brent checks his mobile -- new text. [Note: IMs are in italics.]

COLIN (TEXT)

Can’t find Becca.

BRENT (TEXT)

On my way.

It’s ultimately the director’s choice how to show that onscreen. For 2011, the style to beat has to be BBC’s Sherlock.

sherlock text message

IMs and texts aren’t going away, so I wouldn’t be surprised if over the next few years screenwriters start using an alternative format for them. I chose dialogue blocks because that’s the closest analogy. But it misrepresents what characters are really doing on screen.

Something more like this could ultimately become common:

MICAH

Hold on. I’ll check.

On the computer --

MICAH: Red or green?

LISA: Huh

MICAH: Sauce.

LISA: Red. Green makes me puke.

MICAH

Green for Lisa.