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Of all of the screenwriting apps out there, Slugline might be the most minimalistic of them all. There are no toolbars, sidebars, stats breakdown–even the dropdown menus are kept to a minimum.

This Mac app was created to help you focus on doing one thing and one thing only: screenwriting.

Slugline has been around since 2013, and I’ve been using it since 2014. It’s still my go-to screenwriting app. Below are the five reasons why it keeps me coming back despite the plethora of alternatives on the market today.

(Small note: This post is basically going to be me raving about this app, but I just want to note that I have no affiliation with Slugline and I’m not being paid in any way to write this post. It’s just that good.)

1. Slugline is a WYSIWYG editor.

WYSIWYG is an acronym for ‘what you see is what you get’. That means the printed script looks the same as the written page as you work in Slugline.

There is one exception to this–when you have a long dialogue that extends into the next page, Slugline will add a “CHARACTER NAME (CONT’D)” at the beginning of the second page of dialogue that doesn’t show until you are in Print View:

dialogue split in Slugline

(Dialogue being split in Slugline’s Print View.)

This is automatic and it doesn’t affect the positioning of your page.

2. Slugline auto-formats your screenplay as you write.

No need to hit tabs or space bars or any other wacky nonsense to let the software know that you are writing a scene heading, or character dialogue, or an action line. Slugline automatically readjusts to your writing. AS IT SHOULD.

Screenwriting already uses syntax that is unique to defining character, location, dialogue, action, etc.

If you’re writing a scene heading, you’ll start with INT. or EXT. Once you type these characters, Slugline will format the script accordingly.

scene headings in Slugline

For dialogue, all you need to do is use capitals on a character’s name and it’ll reposition it to the center of the page. The next line is then auto-formatted for dialogue.

dialogue in Slugline

The same is true for transitions, and if you ever need to force a specific syntax, you can easily do so through the Format dropdown menu.

3. Slugline imports and exports .fountain.

Fountain is a simple and straight forward markup language created by Stu Maschwitz and screenwriter John August.

You can use fountain markup to write feature screenplays with any text editor, then import them into screenwriting software like Slugline to export a formatted script.

Most screenwriting software accepts .fountain files nowadays, so if you ever needed to add additional functionality to your scripts after writing them in Slugline, you can do so easily by exporting as a .fountain file.

I typically write my first few drafts in Slugline, then I’ll switch to Highland (John August’s professional screenwriting software) and do rewrites there, especially if I need to mark changes in different colors or do numbered headings.

But for the basic stuff, Slugline is great.

4. Slugline is great for notes, outlines, and navigation.

Although there are no toolbars and sidebars, there is an option to show an outline tab that can display scene headings and any sections (#), synopses (=), and notes ([[]]) that you’ve made using fountain syntax.

notes in Slugline

I like to section all my major scenes throughout my script and use the outline tab as a table of contents. All you need to do is click a section in the outline tab and Slugline will move to that location in the script. This makes for very easy navigation as you’re making revisions.

5. Slugline’s scripts use about 1-2 pages less than other screenwriting software.

This is major for anyone that writes long scripts. As you probably know, the unwritten rule of screenwriting is to keep your scripts below 120 pages.

This matters a whole lot less when you’re an already established writer (“My story finishes when it finishes, damn you!” *throws coverage in reader’s face*), but if you’re just starting out, you find yourself getting comments from industry readers to keep your script under 120 pages.

Okay, but what if I’m at 121 and I just can’t find anything more to shave off? 

One solution is to export your script in Slugline. 

I don’t know what it is about their formatting, but somehow it uses less space. However it doesn’t show on the page, and I’ve never gotten a complaint about incorrect formatting or length.

I haven’t compared this with every script editor. But from what I’ve seen, it generally means about 1-2 pages shorter than other screenwriting apps.

In Conclusion

Slugline is a great tool to add to your screenwriting workflow. But best of all, it’s minimalistic and easy-to-use functions keep you writing.

The desktop version of Slugline is $39.99, available for MacOS only. The iOS app on iPhone and iPad is $19.99.