Studio Tips:

DON'T FAX IT or PdF-IT... FIX IT!

Those of us who get paid to put a voice to someone else's words have to be able to read those words clearly. Thanks to ISDN and Source Connect, we can have our voices recorded nearly anywhere in the world, in real time. But the script must be legible!

While email is the preferred means of script delivery today, sometimes the script arrives as a fax, or even as a Pdf file. And it's frequently printed in the teeniest possible font... like about 6 points! Sometimes it's a copy that has been copied a couple of times before, during the approval process, causing the crispness of the font to morph into a fuzzy sort of haze where letters used to be. Tiny, and fuzzy, and reeeeeeealy difficult to read. A printed price like $29.95 starts to look like your ex-wife's name!

So here are some tips for scripts that will be either faxed or Pdf-ed. Please use at least a 12-point font; 14 or 16 is even better. Plus, if it's transmitted by fax, the machine must be properly formatted to avoid reducing the size of the document. Sometimes the size problem is on the receiving end, not the sending end. And, for goodness sake, give us double spacing and wide margins in which to take notes or write revisions on the fly!

Let me also address the subject of using all capital letters, rather than a mix of upper and lower case type. For one thing, it's like writing emails; all-caps is the print equivalent of screaming! As the voices for your scripts, we have to be able to understand exactly what we're saying. Knowing how to separate names and titles from the rest of the material is generally a function of capital letters and is vital to our ability to read something correctly. Most of the time we have to read your script "cold," without much time for preview (that long approval process, again), and we need all the clues we can get as to HOW to read it. We get that from the format. That means capital letters, correct punctuation, and a sense of how it will sound out loud, rather than if it precisely follows the textbook rules of grammar.

So here are some suggestions for scriptwriters: Assume that it will go through several generations of faxing before it gets to the talent. Make the font, spacing, and margins generous in size. Write it in both upper and lower case, as appropriate. And pay attention to your punctuation as well, so that we can tell how you want it read. Above all, read it to yourself OUT LOUD before you decide it's ready for recording. Sometimes those wonderfully constructed pieces of grammar sound like crap when spoken aloud! Oh, and one more suggestion: E-mail the script as a word processor document, so we can change the font style and size to suit our own preferences. Following these simple suggestions could save you a fortune in studio rental!