Free Screenwriting Software

The fastest way to format a screenplay is to let software do it for you. Fortunately for starving artists, there are many free tools out there to choose from.

Unfortunately, some of these allow you to write and format a screenplay for free, but you have to pay if you want to export that screenplay without a watermark. This is clearly not very useful, except as a way to test the software before purchasing.

Below, I'll try to distinguish between options that are actually free (i.e., you can do something useful without upgrading to a paid version) versus the ones that will hold your beautifully-formatted screenplay hostage until you pay the upgrade fee.

Word/Google Doc Templates

Studiobinder offers a free template to format a screenplay in Microsoft Word, along with video instructions.

Arc Studio offers a free template for both Word and Google Docs.


Trelby is a free software that you can use to write and format a screenplay. It is customizable and includes a full-screen mode to work on your screenplay without distractions. Other features include a character name database and the ability to check for formatting errors in your script. You can import TXT and Final Draft files into Trelby and export files from Trelby to PDF, TXT, and a number of other formats.


Celtx is a robust screenwriting and playwriting software with a free plan that you can use for script formatting and basic project management, while the paid versions additionally offer storyboarding and collaboration features.


The free version of this software is watermark-free and can be used for up to three projects.

The free version includes:
- script formatting
- tracking of revision history
- planning and project management
- the ability to give others read-only access to your script
- cloud backups of your files.

The software offers several affordable paid versions which include access to collaboration tools, offline writing options, more robust revision capabilities, and script translation to other languages (I have not tested WriterDuet's translation tool, but based on my experience of machine-translated dialogue I would recommend using with caution).

Story Architect

Story Architect is a software for writing screenplays and stageplays, as well as novels.

The free version includes
- unlimited documents and projects
- formatting
- import and export options
- project tracking.

The paid version includes more robust planning, storyboarding, and worldbuilding features. With either version, you can purchase credits to use an integrated AI assistant.

Fade In

Attention! The free version of this software will watermark your script -- you will have to pay to download a usable version.

However, you can use the free version to storyboard and organize your screenplay, as well as for online collaboration. Like Trelby, this software offers a "no-distractions" display option to help you focus while you're working on your script. You can also use the free version to format your script, but you'll have to pay a one-time fee to remove the watermark.

Arc Studio Pro

Attention! Another software that watermarks your script unless you upgrade to a paid version.

Arc Studio Pro provides a streamlined, user-friendly scriptwriting experience with features focused on drafting and revising screenplays. The free version allows for basic scriptwriting and formatting - but includes a watermark on exported scripts.
Premium (paid) features include advanced outlining, collaboration, and version history.

Highland 2

Attention! Another software that watermarks PDF exports in the free version.

Highland 2 offers project management and formatting tools for your screenplay. It's the first screenwriting software to offer a Gender Analysis feature, allowing you to compare the number of words given to male versus female characters.

To remove watermarks on scripts, you have to upgrade to the paid version.


Attention: The free version of this software doesn't allow you to export your script! Which is clearly not much use! However, the paid version is quite affordable at only $5 per month.

Scriptbuddy is a web-based software, so you don't have to install anything. With the free version, you can write -- but not export -- a screenplay. The affordable paid version includes access to a screenwriting community where you can get feedback.

Note: the Scriptbuddy website has teeny tiny font. It's best for screenwriters with great eyesight or strong reading glasses.

woman holding laptop and cappuccino

Free Screenwriting Software - Next Steps