Slug Line – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Screenwriting Glossary Terms

What is a Slug Line in Screenwriting?

In screenwriting, a slug line, also known as a scene heading, is a brief description that tells the reader where and when a scene takes place. It typically consists of three parts: the interior or exterior location, the specific location, and the time of day. Slug lines are essential for organizing the structure of a screenplay and providing clarity to the reader.

How are Slug Lines Used in Screenplays?

Slug lines are used to set the scene and provide context for the action that follows. They help the reader visualize the location and time of day, which can impact the mood and tone of the scene. Slug lines also help the production team understand the logistics of filming, such as whether a scene will be shot indoors or outdoors.

What is the Format of a Slug Line?

The format of a slug line is typically as follows: INT. or EXT. (for interior or exterior), followed by the specific location (e.g., KITCHEN, PARK, OFFICE), and then the time of day (e.g., DAY or NIGHT). For example, INT. KITCHEN – DAY. This format provides a clear and concise description of the scene’s setting.

Why are Slug Lines Important in Screenplays?

Slug lines are important in screenplays because they help organize the structure of the script and provide clarity to the reader. They set the scene and establish the context for the action that follows, making it easier for the reader to visualize the story. Slug lines also help the production team understand the logistics of filming, ensuring that scenes are shot in the appropriate locations.

When Should Slug Lines be Used in a Screenplay?

Slug lines should be used at the beginning of each new scene or location change in a screenplay. They help orient the reader and provide a smooth transition between scenes. Slug lines are especially important when there are multiple locations or time jumps in a script, as they help the reader keep track of where and when the action is taking place.

How to Properly Use Slug Lines in a Screenplay?

To properly use slug lines in a screenplay, follow these guidelines:
1. Be concise: Keep slug lines brief and to the point, focusing on the essential information of location and time.
2. Use consistent formatting: Stick to the standard format of INT. or EXT., specific location, and time of day for each slug line.
3. Avoid unnecessary details: Only include information that is relevant to the scene and helps set the mood or tone.
4. Use slug lines to indicate significant changes in location or time: Make sure to include a new slug line whenever there is a change in setting or time.
5. Proofread for accuracy: Double-check slug lines for accuracy and consistency throughout the screenplay to ensure clarity for the reader.