Something I have to deal with at least three times in the screenplay I’m currently working on that I have NO idea how to do. A character is handed a postcard, note or reads a list. Cue insert shot for audience to read-along. An example:
Dear Dad – okay, it’s better than I expected.
There have been some interesting developments
but I still miss baseball. I still want to visit you
Love, your son, Nathan.
How on earth do you format something like that in Final Draft? The few screenwriter friends I have are similarly perplexed by this, simple though the answer may be.
First off, if you’re doing it “at least three times,” you’re doing it too much. Audiences don’t go to movies to read. Limit yourself to once, and keep it short.
If a character reads the note aloud (either on-screen, or in voice-over), just keep the text in his dialogue block. You may want to italicize it for clarity.
If the audience needs to read it, try using dialogue margins with no character name — if your screenwriting software will allow you. Otherwise, break it into lines roughly the width of a dialogue block and center them. Again, italics may help.
A sharp-eyed reader may prove me wrong, but in 30+ scripts, I don’t think I’ve ever had a block of text the audience needed to read. It’s something you can almost always write around.