How Punctuation Marks Help You Read Voice Over Scripts Better

A well-written script makes any recording session for a voice over actor so much easier. And when we say well-written, that also includes correct punctuation.

Punctuation is important for voice overs as it works as an aid in reading, phrasing, and in the overall interpretation of the script. Unfortunately, not all the scripts you receive are well-made, so it may need a bit of tweaking in the spelling, grammar and/or punctuation.

You may need to work with the client if there are any concerns with the grammar (as you can’t just make major changes to the script without letting them know), but correcting the spelling and punctuation is something you can easily do.

Here are some basic rules in using punctuation marks :

Period – or full stop for the British, marks the end of a logical and complete thought, as long as it is not an interrogative or exclamatory sentence

Comma – separates phrases, words, or clauses in lists; it can also be used to emphasis an item, point or meaning

Exclamation point – is used to express exasperation, astonishment, or surprise, or to emphasise a comment or short, sharp phrase.

Question mark – marks the end of all direct questions

Colon – used to expand on the sentence that precedes it, often introducing a list that demonstrates or elaborates whatever was previously stated

Semicolon – used to join phrases and sentences that are thematically linked without having to use a conjunction, and it is also instead of commas to separate the items in a list when the items themselves already contain commas

Quotation mark – used to cite something someone said exactly


But as you go through your script, you can also add some personal marks that can help you interpret and deliver the directions better.

Commas – as we mentioned earlier, commas are used to emphasise an item, point or meaning. Add commas to the script where you feel there should be a natural pause.

Highlight – whether you are using a Word document or printed out scripts, highlight words that needs careful pronunciation – jargons, company terminologies, or difficult to pronounce words. Make sure you check back with your client to get the correct pronunciation.

Underline – another way to show emphasis for a word, phrase or even sentences is by underlining it.

Greater/Less than signs – use this to mark parts of the script where you need to slow down or speed up your pace

Virgule – or “staff” and “rod”, you may use slash (/) for short pauses, and dash () for longer pauses


There are also lesser known, yet very interesting marks that you can add to your list of punctuation marks to use. These punctuation marks express more than the usual stops and emphasis – they represent different feelings that you can use as a guide in interpreting your script.

voh_punctuation-marks


Do you use special marks to help you read your scripts better? Share with us your tips.

Source: www.ef.com

Rana King

Rana King has presented marketing, sales, and writing seminars around the globe. She is also experienced in business-to-business copywriting and technical writing. She is also an accomplished voice actor with regular clients from around the globe.

  • I’m not sure how applicable all this is – I’ve written radio and TV scripts for 30+ years and when I began writing books, everyone screamed I had my commas in all the wrong places and I should have used semi colons and colons etc etc. but I’d inserted my commas as I would record a voice over – so for books I think it’s a totally different approach.