Difference Between Script and Screenplay

Main Difference – Script vs. Screenplay

Script and screenplays are two terms that are often used in the context of acting, directing and production. They are in fact the first stage in a process of production. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the meaning of these two words. Some think that there is a difference between script and screenplay while some maintain that they can be used interchangeably. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between script and screenplay in order to clarify this confusion. Before moving on to an in-depth analysis of these words, let us first look at the definition of the two words as explained by the Oxford Dictionary. Script is described as “the written text of a play, film, or broadcast” while screenplay is defined as the script of a film, including acting instructions and scene direction”. From these two definitions, we can arrive at the main difference between script and screenplay; all screenplays are scripts, but not all scripts are screenplays.

What is a Script

A script is a written text of a drama, film or a broadcastScript is derived from the Latin scriber meaning to write. A script is the written version of a story.

The term script can be applied to various fields such as stage play, a video game, a radio program or computer programming script, etc. A script is written in the dialogue format. In a script, lines, gestures, movements and expressions of actors are described. A script, especially a drama script is divided into acts and scenes. In each scene, the location, background and movements are described.

In simple words, script can be described as a series of written instructions that specifies what dialogues should be said at which instance.Difference Between Script and Screenplay

What is a Screenplay

A screenplay is a script written to be played on a screen. Therefore, the term screenplay can be used in the context of both films and television. Since a  screenplay is written for a visual medium, it involves visual aspects and processes. The term teleplay specifically refers to the screenplays written for television. A screenplay outlines every auditory, visual, behavioral, and lingual element required to tell a story. It is based on this outline that the directors, actors, and other crew will interpret the movie.  A screenplay can be an original version or an adaptation from an existing piece of literature.

It is important to know that both these texts are written in a specific format. Given below is a sample from a screenplay, showing dialogue and action descriptions.Key Difference - Script vs Screenplay

Difference Between Script and Screenplay


Script is a written text of a play, film or other broadcasts.

Screenplay is a script written specifically to be played on screen.


Script is written for various media such as radio broadcast, video game and film.

Screenplay is written for visual media.


Not all scripts are screenplays.

All screenplays are scripts.
Difference Between Script and Screenplay - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“You Can’t Do Business with Hitler rehearsal” by Howard Liberman (Public Domain) via Commons 

“Screenplay example” by Mendaliv – Own work by uploader, originally uploaded to English Wikipedia.( Public Domain) via Commons

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