How to Proofread Your Script Like a Pro

Have you thought about submitting your script to a contest, manager or agent? You want to appear as professional as possible, rather than the slobbering, neurotic mess that you are (I’m probably projecting). Proofreading your script shows that you care about your material and took the time to properly revise it. Some readers and companies are more lenient/don’t care. On the flip side, using the wrong you’re/your could cause an overworked, generally frustrated assistant to throw your brainchild into the trash. Sounds cruel? I’m just being honest. You don’t want to give a reader any reason to pass on your material, especially for something that’s easily avoidable. Learn how to proofread your script like a pro.

Typos Happen

Let me preface this with the fact that I am terrible at proofreading my own work. It’s actually a really common problem with a logical behind the scenes assessment. Our brains fill in gaps. We fix words, phrases even, as we read them. Our minds make our own writing makes sense. Thanks, brain?

Here’s what Cambridge has to say about it:

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

But as a reader, nothing bothers me more than a script littered with typos, except maybe a 150 page screenplay with novel-length description . I don’t mind if I find a few errors – it happens. I’m guilty.

Reading your own material and scouring it for grammar and spelling mistakes can feel torturous. Figure out a way to proofread your script anyway. An excessive amount of typos indicates that you didn’t take the time or care to revise or look at your material (laziness). A few = probably passable. A lot = you just don’t care.

Brain auto-correct is your enemy. Beware.

How to Proofread Your Script

  1. If you changed a character name, make sure the old name is gone.
  2. Double check any montage sequences for readability.
  3. If you did a Find & Replace in Final Draft, it doesn’t always correct words that are in Dual Dialogue mode.
  4. Catch sneaky mistakes by reading your script out loud.
  5. Do a basic spelling and grammar check.
  6. Look for homonyms (their/there/they’re and you’re/your being the most common).
  7. Look for adding a letter to common words (people do this a lot with were and where)
  8. Check that your scene headings are correct and consistent with one another.
  9. Give your characters an age (please)!
  10. Double check all your character descriptions.
  11. Scroll through and glance at the formatting to make sure nothing is weird. As an example, I’ve seen big blank white spaces at the bottom of script pages (like way too much space).

Outsource Script Proofreading 

It’s totally okay to hire someone to proofread your script for you. By all means, outsource it! Getting a second set of eyes is always good. If you’re going to ask a friend to do it for free, make sure you at least try to read through everything one time, so you’re not taking advantage of their kindness. Hiring a professional is a great option and can be expensive, but it’s worth it.