How To Write A T.V. Commercial Script? [A Beginner-Friendly Guide]

Satyam Maitrai
Satyam Maitrai
Content Writer
9 min reading·

T.V. commercials are one good way brands, companies, and many business owners use to notify the public about their products and services. Somebody can do the broadcast through different means such as radio, television, internet, etc.

However, the goal here is not just about getting people to know about your product, but persuading them to pay for the products and service and  while maintaining a steady flow of income into your business and stand out among your competitors.

A T.V. ad is always a good and most effective way to market a new product while promoting a brand to reach a larger audience. There are several reasons why using a commercial ad to announce your products and services is essential - If you’re selling your products online, this is an effective strategy increasing enough traffic to your online store, increase sales, reach the target market and help increase sales. .

However, essential planning is mandatory for any commercial ads, and it starts with writing a commercial script.

A good script delivers a plausible commercial. It contains fine details describing your ad including the dialogue and shots. A quality script is a fundamental process every advertisement starts with to grow their business.

A great script conveys and passes the correct information quickly and effectively.

That is to say, being perfect in writing a T.V. commercial script requires the ability to summarize the details — visual and audio — and to meet up the time interval T.V. commercials take about 30, 45, 60, or 90 seconds short timings. 

However, if you're venturing into writing scripts for a T.V. or radio commercial for the first time, you need first to know the difference between writing a T.V. commercial script and screenwriting a screenplay, and the format for a commercial script.

Let's explore more on that.

Difference between writing a T.V. commercial script and screenwriting a screenplay

Writing a T.V. commercials are quite different from screenwriting a screenplay. A T.V. a commercial script has to be brief with fewer scenes than a screenplay that can contain as many scenes as possible. The reason is that in T.V. commercials, there is less time between 15 to 90 seconds that tells your story, unlike a screenplay, which can go for more than 90 minutes.

So, how to format a script?

A script format is basically what the script looks like on the page. Script format for T.V. commercials are quite different from a screenplay.

A good T.V. script should include:

  • Scenes locations
  • The amount and type of actions needed for each shot.
  • Production footage.
  • Video type — whether descriptive or narrative.
  • Voice-over narration and screen actors.
  • Camera angles for every shot.

T.V. commercials script is also quite different from a movie script. For a movie script, the time spacing varies, and dialogue and action-line vary. For T.V. ads, unlike a movie script, time management is crucial. Therefore, to achieve this, there are two columns separating the visuals and audio — the visual on the left and the audio on the right. 

The visual column, in general, is where the viewers see on the screen. The visual column contains the same information as the scene descriptions and action lines in a screenplay. The writing should be clear and brief, conveying the correct and important information that tells whether your vision is in line with the brand objectives.

Nonetheless, timings for each visual is also essential — specify how long the shot should last. For example, you can write “(:06)” for the shot length that would last for that time.

Next, the audio column, on the other hand, could convey information on what viewers should hear. In the audio column is where you write the description of the audio elements such as dialogue, music, voice-over, or sound effects. Write each audio element directly on the same line from across its corresponding visual part. Lining the visual from audio will help the reader know the audio component and it’s relative visual description.

The character name is first written in writing the dialogue, followed by a colon, and then the dialogue. An ideal example is the one below: "SATYAM: This drink tastes much better. I think I like it.” 

In this column, add any sound effects or music that would relate to the script. 

Also, script writers must write each audio length for each element to help meet the required time for the advert. Disinclude anything not in the dialogue by writing in ALL CAPS.

Another component in the T.V. commercial script formatting is the heading. At the top of the script is where you have the heading, where you write all information about the project’s details

The heading should include the following details:

  • The client's name to whom you're writing the advert script.
  • Job ID and phone number — a reachable phone number is crucial so your collaborator can keep in touch with you and contact you whenever they need your service.
  • Spot title that describes the advert. A unique title should be used for each script if you're writing a different script.
  • The submission date for the script and
  • The spot length. For most T.V. adverts, the total runtime is usually 90, 60, 30, or 15 seconds. Some of them go as low as 8-10 seconds in length.

A scriptwriting software is available for easy use when formatting your content. 

Terms used in T.V. commercial script writing

When writing T.V. commercial script writers use special  vocabularies. The following are the most common terminologies used in T.V. commercial script writing.

MUSIC: In the audio column, the term  "music" specifies and provides a brief description of a particular type of song.

SFX: Short for "sound effects." In the audio column, SFX indicates sound effects. Write sound effects before the description of the sound effects.

GFX:  Short for "graphics". Utilize the graphics with the elements in the visual column. It comes before the description of on-screen graphics.

MONTAGE: Defines as listing a series of short shots that scriptwriters are sequencing together.

O.S.: Short for “off-screen”. Using off-screen dialogue in the audio column indicates characters who are talking, but not visible on-screen.

V.O: Stands for "voiceover". It indicates a voiceover dialogue in the audio column. Like O.S, V.O. is also used to indicate a talking character but here, the character is entirely invisible. When writing their lines, write  "V.O" after the character's name.

MS, WS, and CU: In the visual column, is where you can use these terms. They are abbreviations for "medium shot",  "wide shot", and" close-up.” 

CGI: Also part of GFX, CGI is a short form for computer-generated images.

SHOT: In writing a T.V. commercial script, "shot" is a common term for a take.

ANIMATIC: Uses are for creating illustrations in making soundtracks for test commercials.  Creating illustrations can be done using software like MakeStoryboard. Creating soundtracks from Livematic or Photomatic, which are the terms representing "live production shots" and "still photographs".

How to write a T.V. commercial script?

The details below are a step-by-step guide on how you can successfully write a T.V. ad script.

  1. Review and understand the company’s mission and strategy:

Dialogue is not necessarily the only important thing or the first thing to think about when you want to write a T.V. commercial script, but having the essential information about what you're writing is paramount. Create a clear communication channel with the advertiser to get all the information and understand what they need.

Some of the information you might need to know should include:

  • The brand's personality
  • Their target audience
  • Advertisement objective
  • Unique selling proposition etc.

Review the company's mission statement to ensure the concepts you use in writing the script do not go against what they stand for.

  1. Set your timing and tone:

We are very much aware timing is very crucial when creating a T.V. commercial. Short ads might be seen as unprofessional and hurried, while a long one might be too boring for the audience. Gaining your customer’s attention is why it's important to set your timing to get all aspects of the script balanced to deliver an effective T.V. ad.

Setting the right tone to use for the script is another important thing. The tone here is simply the kind of expression the commercial will portray — funny, appealing, playful, etc. When setting a tone, set a tone that will please the audience and ensure it goes with company guidelines.

  1. Check competitors

Carry out research about the competitors and analyze who they are, what they do, and how they reach their target market. Technology makes it easier to research as there are now several platforms where you can review marketing content.

Through this analysis, you'll be able to find if their method will be right for you. You can also use the research opportunity to discover new ideas on how to go about your scriptwriting.

  1. Draft your script

Once you have the first three steps all sorted out, it's now time to begin your scriptwriting.

How do you begin?

First, create a draft, brainstorm, revise and record your ideas on paper and once you finish, try rewriting, add some changes you think you need to add and amend whatsoever you need to until the writing becomes clear and concise.

An easier way to do your draft is to use storyboarding software. Several free templates are provided by MakeStoryboard to help make your drafting quick and easy.

Drafting your work first will also help you with a better direction on how to refine your script.

However, you should be ready to put off the idea and start a new one if the ideas are not helpful and relevant to your needs. As you start over again, try to focus on a captivating tagline, the business objective, and what they want to achieve.

  1. Include a call to action:

The call to action points out the direction to where you are focusing your scriptwriting. As not only are you creating awareness for a company, but also reaching potential customers for the target market. Thus, a call to action is dependable on the target audience, the potential customer, and what their response to a commercial ad is.

Moreover, your call to action answers questions on information about the product and place of purchase. It should answer questions like what do viewers do after seeing thecommercial? Where do they purchase the product?

A great way to do this is to use words that will evoke enthusiasm in viewers and create the urgency for them to take action. Do not miss adding an indication of why your audience should seize the opportunity and take the desired action.

Outline of how a practical commercial script should be.

  • It should be engaging.
  • It should represent a brand well.
  • It should have proper formatting and editing.
  • It should be unique and original.
  • Must include only the correct choice of actors
  • Dialogues should be precise, flow smoothly without a pause in sentences.
  • Must have the right tone
  • It should have an interesting theme.
  • Must include a clear call to action.
  • Due to its short timing, making a move be brief and relevant.

Final verdict. 

The T.V. commercial has been and is still a highly effective strategy helping brands grow by promoting their productsd services and reaching more target markets.

However, marketing is guiding this strategy by a T.V. commercial script that aims at producing a copy that’s  necessary for a brand to have consumers recognize, earn their; attention, and persuade consumers into buying their product and services.

A well-recognized online storyboarding software is MakeStoryboard, and you can begin the storyboarding of your scriptwriting instantly. 



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