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I'm formatting a play using Pages on macOS. I cannot figure out how to get character names to be associated with their dialogue. I'm formatting like

[centered] JOHN [\centered]
Yes, that’s me.

But I constantly get orphaned character names because the newline after the character name causes the two things to be treated as separate paragraphs. It looks super unprofessional.

I'm using Pages specifically, but also could switch to Word if this is impossible in Pages but possible in Word.

  • My guess is Word is not what you want. Have you looked for screenwriter programs that you might use? scriptreaderpro.com/free-screenwriting-software – DPT Jan 15 at 23:04
  • 2
    I’ve looked at those a little, but it’s not a screenplay, so i don’t want or need the strict screenplay format. And because play workshopping involves editing the play so frequently, I don’t want to use non-standard file formats/editing software. – Clayton McCray Jan 16 at 5:41
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+200

I could do this in Word very easily -- Short Version: Create a Style called "Character Name" Indicate that the style "Dialogue" is what follows next. (that's on the first area of the create-a-style dialogue). Then in the PARAGRAPHS section of that Character Name Style, the second/advanced tab, choose "Keep-with-next"

I do most of my editing in drafts-view, because it's easy to see in the left pane which template is being used, and to remember to make changes via Style, not direct-formatting.


Screenshots!
A sequence of 11 pictures.

Drafts View, "no" styles
1) I copied some lyrics to be my "script". I chose View, Draft, to create that left-view. Shift-F1 is another great tool for knowing layout. This is my starting with a text snippet all in normal mode

Create A Style
2) I manually centered one line, then selected it as my "model" - then on the Styles Menu, I chose Create-A-Style to get started Image shows using context-menu to start editing a Style

Name the Style & Start to Modify
3)You can give any style any name. You can also change more properties within this.
Closeup of Create-Style, directing users to click "modify"

Styles That Can Be Buddies 4)Most of the time, after a Character Name, there's dialog - so I previously made that style (Normal, but indented .5" on L & R, smaller space before/after paragraphs.) So you can select a "Next Style" button as shown here, and then use the Modify button at the bottom, to see various other elements to change.
Close up of Style Edit page, highlighting "Style for Following Paragraph" and "Modify" buttons

Modify Options
5) In the Modify box, you can go to many areas - you may want to add a Shortcut Key so you can turn on Character Name formatting at the start of said line! We want to do paragraph options now closeup of Modify drop-down menu

Paragraph Options, 2nd Tab
6) The big feature you want is "Keep with Next" (You may want to also have Scene Breaks start a new page - use "Page Break Before" then.)
Paragraph Tab, 2nd tab, highlighting Keep With Next

Style Gallery
7) Hey, there are our Styles in the gallery! Styles Gallery closeup - "Character name" is first style

Ta-da!
8) Screenshot of the script, now with those character and dialog Styles added. Note there's a page break here -- I played with adding blocks of text - the character-name stayed with the dialog! (But Things seem a little unbalanced, hmmmm...)

Drafts View, showing Styles added over a page break

Modify Style Even More
9) So let's fix that spacing issue -- too little space between blocks and the next character name. (It's nice to know that once a style exists, it can still be modified as needed) Modify Style from Style Gallery

Back to Style Paragraphs
10) Just the front part, playing with spacing instead of adding unneeded "enter"s to add spaces
Modify Style -- Paragraph Properties

Really Done
Final view of script in draft-view with modified styles

If most of what you write are plays, then you can add these Styles to your Normal.dotm template -- if not, save a template (File, Save-As, choose "file-type as .dotx or .dotm, then name it) for all playwriting styles.


(Note - my font styles are Arial since that's work normal -- feel free to change. And the source of my "dialogue" is a song going through my head from Heathers the Musical: (lyrics from https://genius.com/Laurence-okeefe-and-kevin-murphy-dead-girl-walking-lyrics and https://genius.com/Laurence-okeefe-and-kevin-murphy-dead-girl-walking-reprise-lyrics )

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