Newsjack: The format I use for sketches and oneliners

People (including Frank a week or so ago) have asked me what format I use to send sketches and one liners into the BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack (and other radio opportunities).

I’ve attached some example scripts showing how I do it. There is nothing original about this. I have taken all of this from BBC example scripts or other online resources (check out the BBC Writer’s Room), or helpful tips from people like my friend Dan Sweryt. Compare mine to the BBC’s official version here – BBC Cue Style (PDF) (from Although it’s not identical the fundamentals are the same.

The main points are:

1. Use Arial 12pt or something very similar.

2. Put character names in all caps on the left.

3. Start speeches in the middle of the page. Make sure that it is clear who is speaking.

4. Underline and maybe bold FX (sound effects) and GRAMS (recorded music) directions.

5. Put your name and the sketch title in the header so it is on every page.

Also not everyone can easily open Word 2007 or 2010 files (.docx .doxm etc) so send everything in .doc (Word 97 format).

I also tend to put in a few notes about the character and include something about the show and episode in the header to make it easier to find when the time comes to (hopefully) get paid.


David Salisbury – Sketch Template

David Salisbury – One liners TEMPLATE

The basic idea is the make your formatting boring and easy to use so that no one notices it. Like a football referee, if you notice the formatting either it’s not doing it’s job properly or the script/match is not very interesting. Both of those things are bad.

Two points you should be clear on:

1. The BBC, or whoever, will use work because they find it funny and it fits their needs, not because of the layout.

2. But bad layout can make it hard for them to find the funny in your work and make you look like you can’t be bothered or would be hard to work with.

So lay out your work in sensible and clear way, and then forget about the formatting and focus on the making the content absolutely brilliant.

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One Comment on "Newsjack: The format I use for sketches and oneliners"

  1. Frank
    16/11/2012 at 2:24 pm Permalink

    Thanks Dave!
    That was a very useful e-mail and nice of you to send it.
    You are building good karma here pal.

    Best wishes

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