In Hollywood you pretty much have to use 12-point Courier on your screenplay, even though it's weak and may seem hard to read.
Must I really use Courier font?
Even this 'rule' has been broken, and successfully, as all of supposed rules in Hollywood have. But
it should not to be tried by newbies or the faint-of-heart. It's just not worth playing around on this one. You need the readers on your side from the get-go.
This means ONLY Courier 12-point, and nothing else. Not Times Roman, Arial, or Helvetica. Not
even a different 'typewriter' style font. Not 10 point, or 14 point, or any other font size, either.
Why only Courier 12-point?
Screenplays used to be written on typewriters, and the standard font was what we call 'Courier'
today. By the very nature of typewriter technology, fonts were 'fixed pitch', giving the same space to each letter on the page. They did not put letters on the page using 'proportional spacing' which modern word processing technology allows. Because each key was the same width each letter took up the same space on the page, which meant that a string of text typed into one script took up the same space on the page as another.
Why does the text have to take up the same space on the page?
Scripts provide a rough page-per-minute onscreen time guide--but only if the text takes up the same amount of space as expected. A page-per-minute estimate from the script gives directors an idea of the length of scenes and producers a way of estimating cost. Being able to use the number of pages to estimate onscreen time facilitates every step in the production process, actually, helping actors, 'continuity gals', and just about everybody else get a proper handle on the project.
In case you need another reason, readers get nervous when they see proportionally-spaced fonts on a screenplay, knowing the writer might have squeezed more into a page--making the movie actually longer than the page total indicates.
What about using fixed pitch fonts other than Courier?
Using different fonts might change the height of your lines, which could change the length of your screenplay, thus messing with page-per-minute estimates. Using stretched-out versions of Courier can mark you as an amateur.
If the letters in the script all are the right height on the page, and take up the same space
across the page, all scripts come pretty close to this page-a-minute format. This is even more
important in the Hollywood of today where scripts come in from thousands of writers
each year, and from all corners of the globe.
Why force us to use such a weak-looking font?
It's just the way it is, sorry. But, you might be able to improve its appearance a bit.
Your printer may not do justice to Courier font, never a strong font to begin with, making it look light and sickly. It may seem too thin to read easily. The operating system version you
use, to add insult to injury, may give you access only to Courier New or another nonstandard
version of Courier that's taller than the proper font.
One fix is in the copying. Your script may come out a little light-looking from your laser
printer, but the copier will give it a slightly darker hue, making it easier to read.
DON'T MAKE IT BOLD IN YOUR DOCUMENT: That's the true mark of a wanna-be. As is setting
the copy machine abnormally dark.
Final Draft Courier font.
Another fix is to use the Final Draft Courier font, found in their software . .
With Final Draft™ being one of the two biggest screenwriting software packages used in
Hollywood, they can hardly steer you wrong.
But take care applying other options, as the farther afield you venture the more trouble you
encounter. And the farther afield you venture the less likely anyone can or will follow. You may
be able to get your set-up fine-tuned, but if you ever hand off your script electronically you
know what results they'll get at the other end.
REMEMBER: There are no rules in Hollywood--just be sure not break any of 'em.