Posts tagged How to
Slugline for iOS 1.1.0

Slugline 1.1.0 for iOS is available now in the App Store, with fixes for crashes, better syncing, and an easier way to type Character names.

Crash Less. Sync More.

Based on your feedback, we fixed several crashing bugs. These bugs were very rare (only about a dozen crashes total), but for the writers who were experiencing them, they were extremely serious. Stability and reliability is our first priority, so we dug deep on this one and made several fixes.

Along those lines, we also found a few ways we could be more resilient to funky conditions with Dropbox and iCloud sync.

Forcing a Save

A few writers have asked about how to force Slugline to save a file. Slugline for iOS is always saving and syncing in the background, but we do this on Apple’s schedule, at times when we won’t interrupt your writing. Sometimes you want the peace of mind of knowing for certain that those last few brilliant lines are committed to the cloud right away.

The simple trick here is that Slugline for iOS saves whenever you change views. So if you exit your document, we save — even if you open it again right away. We also save when you Preview your printed screenplay with the 👁 button. So if you’re looking for an iOS-equivalent for your Mac ⌘ S habit, there are two options for you.

Oh, and if we ever have any unresolvable trouble saving to iCloud or Dropbox, we fall back to saving a backup copy locally. If your writing helicopter ducks into a tunnel, check your Slugline local storage for a SyncBackups folder. Because that folder was obviously named by a programmer, you can be sure it’s there to help.

Bug fixes are clearly the headline of this release, but we couldn’t help sneaking in a cool new feature too:

Lowercase Character Names

Slugline automatically recognizes Character names when you type them in uppercase. But we felt we could do better, so now Slugline for iOS will recognize any previously-used character, even if you type it in lowercase. Just type the name and press Return, and Slugline will uppercase the name for you and set you up for Dialogue.


We Say it Every Time, But it’s True

We read every review and rapidly respond to every support request, and this update is entirely driven by your feedback. Thanks for helping make Slugline better!

Stu MaschwitzUpdates, iOS, How to
Printing Notes in Slugline Screenplays

To help you keep your writing organized and your ideas flowing, Slugline uses Fountain’s simple, embedded Notes. Like everything in Slugline, they are just plain text. But they have some superpowers, such as optionally appearing in the Outline Navigator, and, of course, not printing in your final screenplay.

But what if you want them to print? Here are three ways to do that, including a free applet for generating a Notes Report from a Fountain Screenplay.

A Slugline Notes Refresher

Slugline’s Notes are wrapped in [[double brackets]], and are highlighted in sticky-note yellow. They can be in-line with any text in your screenplay outside of the Title Page, or they can be on their own line. You can create Notes by manually typing the brackets (even in an app other than Slugline!), but there are some shortcuts that make managing Notes even easier.

  • If you type the two open brackets [[, Slugline automatically creates the closing pair ]] and places the insertion point inside.
  • Press ⌘Y to create a new, empty Note.
  • With the insertion point inside a Note, press ⌘Y to delete the brackets, which converts the Note to normal text.
  • If you’re typing at the end of a Note and you press Return, Slugline will move the insertion point to just after the Note.
  • With the Outline Navigator visible (⌘3), you can show/hide Notes in the Outline by pressing ⌘7.

You can use these notes however you like. They are meant just for you, the writer, so they don’t show up in Preview or Print — just like ScriptNotes in Final Draft, for example.

Still, it might be useful to print these kinds of notes every once in a while, so here are some methods for doing just that.

Synopses: Like Notes, But Optionally Printable

Notes don’t print, but there's something similar to a Note that can optionally be printed: A Synopsis element. Synopses join Sections in forming Slugline’s powerful built-in outlining.

  • Sections start with pound signs, and are hierarchical. A Section that starts with ## is considered to be nested within a Section that starts with #.
  • Synopses start with an equals sign =.

Both Sections and Synopses are invisible in print by default, but Slugline has a special option to print them if you like. This setting is saved with the screenplay itself.

Typically, a Synopses follows a Section element, like this:

But you can also place a Synopsis element anywhere in a scene:

If you get in the habit of making your Notes this way, with Synopsis elements, then you can toggle their printability using File → Document Settings → Include Outline Elements.

Just remember that including these elements will affect your page count.

Generate a Notes Report

Final Draft doesn’t support printing its notes inline, but it does allow you to generate a “Notes Report.” Through the power of plain text, it’s easy to do the same with Slugline.

Since Notes contain double brackets, it’s easy to filter for them. I created a simple “droplet” application that does just this, and saves the results to a plain text file. This is basically a bare-bones app wrapped around the Unix grep command, if you’re curious.


The only downside is that there are no page or scene numbers in the report. Still, it can be very handy to have all your notes, and just your notes, in a separate, printable document.

This app takes the Screenplay on the left and generates the Notes Report on the right.

Printing Notes Inline

Still, the dream of many is to print Slugline’s Notes right in place. And again, thanks to the power of text, that’s a pretty straightforward thing.

Remember that the [[double brackets]] are the trigger that Slugline uses to highlight your Notes, and to ignore them at printing time. Since these brackets are just text in your document, and since it’s unlikely that your screenplay has sets of double brackets that aren’t related to Notes, all we have to do is search and replace them with something else — ideally something easy to search and replace back into brackets!

You could do this with Slugline’s built-in Find and Replace (under Edit → Find), or you could use a free and handy app called MassReplaceIt from HexMonkey Software.

MassReplaceIt lets you batch search/replace multiple matches in multiple files at once. It writes its changes back to the input file(s), so here’s a big, fat warning:

Always make a copy of your screenplay before you try this!

Here’s how I have MassReplaceIt set up:

I saved these settings in MassReplaceIt as Print Notes and Hide Notes, so that I could recall them easily. Note that for them to work properly, you must turn off Search whole words only under Options.

Run Print Notes on the copy of your screenplay, and here’s what you get:



All the Notes become regular, printable text. The double asterisks make them bold, so they pop off the page. The asterisks, of course, don’t print:

Print preview of printable notes

But again, notice that rendering the notes did affect the pagination of our screenplay.

In case you do some important editing in this visible-Notes version of the screenplay, you can always use Hide Notes to put the double brackets back.

Avoiding an Obvious Amadeus Joke

Are any of these solutions the dream-come-true of printing an annotated screenplay? Maybe not. It’s a hard problem to solve elegantly, which is probably why no one has done it yet. But while we think about ways to make this even better, I hope this article serves as a reminder that when you write your screenplays in an open, universally-compatible text format like Fountain, there’s no end to the powerful workflows you might create for yourself.

Creating an Interstitial Page

Some screenplays begin with a special page that contains only a quotation or other text meant to set the context for the story. The Hurt Locker, for example, starts with a page featuring two quotations about mankind and war.

You can do this in Slugline with manual page breaks, but for now, this means the first actual page of your screenplay will then be numbered as page 2. In the world of screenplays, page count matters, so this is kind of a bummer.

We have plans to make this work better, but for the time being, there’s a pretty easy workaround that takes advantage of one of the post powerful and underestimated apps on the Mac: Preview.

Preview isn’t just for viewing images and PDFs. It also has many powerful editing abilities, including re-ordering pages, and even inserting pages from one document into another.

So, to create an interstitial page, just save two PDFs — one of your screenplay, and another with just the special page. Then open both, and drag the single page into the thumbnail pane of the screenplay, inserting it exactly where you want it.

Here are some tips:

  • If Preview opens without the Thumbnails visible, reveal them by choosing View → Thumbnails.
  • When creating the document for the interstitial page, you’ll probably want some white space above the text to center it vertically on the page. You can create this with a few carriage returns, but to make sure Slugline prints those lines as intentional white space, add 2 spaces to the very first line of the document.
  • This technique can also be used for adding a fancier title page, with whatever fonts or imagery you like. Create the title page of your dreams in any app that outputs PDF, then insert it according to the above instructions.

Click to enlarge:

We’ll make this process much easier in a future version of Slugline, but for now, this is a powerful way to customize your PDF screenplays.

Stu MaschwitzHow to