How to Write a Text Message in a Screenplay


The phone has become an intricate part of our lives. Thus, our scripts must follow.

In this article, I’m going to teach you how to properly format and write text messages in your script.

How to write a text message in a screenplay? You write a text message in a screenplay by writing text next to the person’s name and then italicizing your dialogue.

For example:

Sandy picks up her phone. 
Sandy (TEXT)
Hey, Sponge Bob want to Netflix and chill?
Sponge Bob (TEXT) 
I'm already chilling with Patrick. Sorry!

There are other ways to do it and some rules to keep in mind keep reading to find out.

Let’s continue.

The Three Ways to Write Text Messages in Screenplays

Yes, there are three ways.

I’ve found examples from popular T.V. show and movies below.

Take a look at pick your favorite.

1.) Action Line Text

This example is from the hit HBO show Insecure.

See how the the text message is in the action line.

This version is excellent for quick texts one or two back and forth but can get confusing for longer texts.

2.) Dialogue Line Text

This is the one mentioned above and should be the standard.

The example came thanks to John August.

It’s simple and easy to understand what’s going on.

Great for longer conversations through text message.

3.) Action Line Colon Text

I use this method because it establishes text messages going back and forth without having to write text every line.

Rules for Writing Texts in a Script

1.) Acknowledge There is a Message on the Phone

All three methods listed above tell the reader in some way

“Hey this is coming from a phone.”

You must do this every time.

There are no excuses. Nothing is worse then having a script reader confused on if this is happening over the phone or in person.

2.) Don’t Overuse It

No one ever came to a movie theatre to read a book.

There is an exception, and that’s films center around technology such as “Nerve” and “unfriended.”

Nerve (2016)

Other than films like this rely on visual story telling techniques.

Try to use the character’s reaction to the phone rather than reading what’s on the phone.

Let the director decide what it said.

3.) Stay Consistent

How ever you do it, you need to keep your formatting the same.

The reader will be expecting the same formatting for text messages throughout the screenplay.

Don’t change it mid script.

It will throw the reader way off.

This goes for any certain way your formatting in the script as well.


Okay, now you know every day to format a text message on the big screen.

As well as some rules for doing it.

Let’s see how this looks on a screen with this interesting texting film video below.

Please check out or formatting section more tips on how to format tricky things like this.

Now it s time to hear from you:

Did I miss anything?

Which method will you use in your script? and why?

What ever it is let’s hear it in the comments below.

How to Write a Text Message in a Screenplay
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