Formatting Dual Dialogue in Scrivener

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In this article I’m going to show you how to format dual dialogue in Scrivener.

Oftentimes in a script you want to format two blocks of dialogue side by side if two characters are speaking at the same time.

The Usual Approach

In most screenwriting software packages you have an extra function for this in the menu, somewhere it says, “dual dialogue” or something similar.

The Scrivener Approach

In Scrivener it doesn’t quite work that way although it’s still very easy to do. It’s just somewhat hidden.

Let’s have a look.

Open your script and select the two dialogue blocks that you want to appear side-by-side.

Select dialogue - Formatting Dual Dialogue in Scrivener
Select dialogue

Then Go to “Format – Formatting – Preserve Formatting”. Now you see Scrivener draws a blueish box around the selected dialogue.

Scrivener draws a box around the dual dialogue - Formatting Dual Dialogue in Scrivener
Scrivener draws a box around the dual dialogue

If you now export this file with the Final Draft Compiler and you open the file inside of Final Draft you see: the two blocks of dialogue appear next to each other.

Dual dialogue Final Draft export - Formatting Dual Dialogue in Scrivener
Dual dialogue Final Draft export

So, there is is. The hidden dual dialogue function of Scrivener.

A couple of things to keep in mind though:

This doesn’t work with all export formats. It works with Final Draft and fountain, but not with pdf for example.

However, it doesn’t affect pdf output in any negative way. Because normally, the preserve formatting function just tells the compiler to leave the text in the blue box as it is. Since this is already formatted as screenplay the compiler will not touch it in any way and the pdf output is not affected at all.

Dual dialogue pdf export - Formatting Dual Dialogue in Scrivener
Dual dialogue pdf export

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