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Why every film script uses the Courier typeface?

Here’s why all screenplays are, invariably, delivered in Courier 12 and it has nothing to do with a whim.

If you’ve ever written a movie script or read one of those iconic scripts by Quentin Tarantino or David Fincher, you probably know that the obligatory typeface is Courier, the one that was born in the 20th-century typewriters and is still used in these documents. The use of the Courier typeface is not a coincidence or a whim, but it is used for reasons of time. And time, as we know, is very valuable when it comes to writing a scene.

As Ana María Burgos explains, the Courier typeface is used because each of the letters of the alphabet, as well as the symbols that include periods, commas, and question marks, have the same size. Although an “i” is thin and in a text like the one you are reading it is much smaller than an “o”, for example, in Courier, they occupy the same space. This is especially useful when writing actions and dialogues that take up a specific amount of time.

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“In the film, it turns out that time is extremely important,” Burgos explains. “The duration of the works. Basically because shooting one minute of footage can easily cost you a day’s work. In other words, cinema is very expensive and therefore you have to know how long a film is going to last, and you have to know it from the beginning of everything, from the script.”

Yes, most of the movies you’ve seen had a delimited duration even before the first scenes were shot. And how do you figure out how long the film product will last? The tiktoker roughly explains the process: “There is a rough way to measure the length of a movie, which is that one page of a script is supposed to be one minute. This is obviously not exact and can vary, but it is true that in general terms if you average it out, it is true”.

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That’s when the Courier typeface comes in: “The typeface is essential to be able to make this calculation and that’s why each letter has the same size and is always written in Courier 12″.

Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva in Spanish

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