Exploring The Most Used Abbreviations In Screenwriting

Using Common Abbreviations In Scripts

This screenwriting workshop will explore the most commonly used abbreviations and how they are used correctly in scripts.

By Jen B


There are several abbreviations that are commonly used in scriptwriting as to avoid distractions within the read. While you do not necessarily need to use such abbreviations, it is good practice and industry standard to utilize them when the circumstance calls for it. We have already introduced several common shortcuts.

The most common abbreviations include:

O.S.- Off Screen: When a character is saying something within the scene but cannot be seen visually. For example, if a character I speaking from behind a closed door.

V.O.- Voice Over: A character that is speaking in a voiceover is vocalizing a thought or serving as a narrator the story.

O.C.- Off Camera: Same as Off Screen.

P.O.V.- Point of View: if we are seeing something from a character’s point of view, this is essential. Sometimes it’s very effective when pointing out an “insert.”

Other Abbreviations include:

B.G.-Background; used in an action paragraph when something is happening in the background that requires attention.

Devon stared out the window. In the b.g., Kelly is preparing dinner.

Other notable mentions are below but they don’t necessarily have place in a spec script (though you will occasionally find them in a shooting script):

CGI-Computer generated image; used to note action that would not be able to be normally filled and will require the use of computers to generate the imagery.

F.G.-Foreground; commonly used in action much in the same way as b.g. with the exception that the action occurs in the foreground.

SFX-sound effects; used to let the sound crew know when an effect is needed. SFX: The BLAST of a car horn.
SPFX- special effects; notes when a special effect is required.

M.O.S.-Mute On Sound.

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