VoiceArchive’s 5-Step Guide To A Great Voice-Over Script
A voice-over script is not the same as a text used for written communication or marketing purposes. A script is meant to be said out loud, and the words and layout need to make it easy for the voice talent to read the text in order to get the style and tone of voice just right.
By making a good voice-over script, you increase the likelihood of first-time success in getting the voice-over exactly as you had imagined. With a great script in the hand, the voice talent can focus on bringing your text and product into life by using his/her great voice.
At VoiceArchive, we see the script as the voice talent’s tool – a good quality voice-over can’t be built without a decent tool. Just like craftsmanship. If a page of a script is packed with words from top to bottom, it’s hard to grasp the big picture and get what’s important. The tool doesn’t work as it should. Text, layout, and pronunciation should be absolutely clear to the voice talent – and text for other purposes (production, animation) should be excluded from the voice-over script.
To help you, we have made a 5-step guide to start your voice-over projects, as well as this 5-step guide to help you with the most important things you need to think about when writing your voice-over script:
#1 – Paragraphs and Columns
The script should be clearly divided into paragraphs and/or columns. A rule of thumb is:
- One column for text (voice-over text only)
- One column for file names
- One column for time codes, and
- One column for directions/comments to the voice talent. See our example below.
If you don’t need either timing or file naming, and the directions are quite simple, a document with paragraphs and non-complex sentences will be sufficient.
#2 – Line Breaks and punctuation
Line breaks and punctuation will help the voice talent with natural pauses and knowing when to take a breath.
If sentences are too long, the voice talent may be forced to take a breath and make a pause where you really don’t want one.
#3 – Text Formatting
- Font: We won’t tell you which font to use, but this kind of font makes it very hard for the voice talent to read your script. So choose a font that is straightforward – and use the same font all the way through the script.
- Size: Not too small, not too big. 3-16 pt. in MS Word terminology. The text should be easy to read both on a computer screen and on prints.
- Colors: Basically, keep it simple, avoid colors – black or blue text on white is preferred. Too many colors will only create doubt about what is the actual voice-over text.
- CAPS LOCK: DON’T! It’s hard to read a text all in capital letters, and it kind of gives the impression that you were shouting when writing the script, And that can actually affect the voice-over style, when the voice talent records.
- Bold or Italic text can be used to indicate where the stress in a sentence should be spoken. It’s always a good idea to include a key/instructions at the head of the page explaining exactly what is required when words have been modified in this way.
- When you send us the final approved script, make sure that you send us a document without internal comments and tracked changes
#4 – Pronunciation Guide
You need to check your text for any words that may be hard for the voice talent to pronounce – and remember that a brand name or the name of a city may be easy for you to say because you know the names, but to an outsider, they may not be so obvious. You need to look at your text with “unfamiliar” eyes and make a list of all the words that need to be explained. You can make either a written phonetic guide or upload an audio file to our Memory Bank, to start creating your pronunciation database.
Check your text for:
- Brand/product/personal/place names
- / # & other signs and symbols
#5 – Style brief
Combined with a great script, a decent style brief will hit the nail on the voice-over.
A style brief refers to how you want the voice-over done – which style, tempo and tone of voice. You can write a brief or you can send us an audio file as a reference.
In your brief consider these points:
- General style e.g. corporate, casual, hard selling
- Tone of voice e.g. serious, friendly, energetic
- Tempo: slow, medium, fast
Get our sample scripts:
We have tried to practice what we preach and set up two sample voice-over scripts following our own guidelines, one for e-learning (requiring multiple files), and one for all creative content where just one file is needed.
You're all set
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