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How to Write for a Prompter in TV News


Writing for a teleprompter is much different than writing emails, letters or newspaper articles. News anchors have words and lines scrolling past them at a steady pace in the prompter. They can't be forced to decipher exactly what was typed in. The number 1 can look like an I or an L. This type of misunderstanding can hurt the credibility of the anchor and the news station.

Put all the anchor and reporter scripts in CAPITAL letters. This allows them to easily tell what part of the script they need to read.

Write numbers 1 to 11 in words. For instance, instead of writing 1, 2, 3, you would write one, two, three.

Attach numbers to the following words with a hyphen, if they go together. If you're writing about 200 people, you'd write 200-PEOPLE in the prompter. Similarly, write 25-YEAR OLD in the prompter.

Transcribe reporter packages and SOTs (or interviews) in lowercase letters. This action will keep the confusion at a minimum, clearly showing the anchor they are not to read this part.

Spell out all symbols. If you're saying percent, for instance, write the word PERCENT out instead of using the % symbol. For website addresses, write W-W-W-DOT-EHOW-DOT-COM.

Type in all acronyms as they are said. For instance, while you'd normally write NAACP, write N-DOUBLE-A-C-P in the prompter for the news anchor.

Use phonetic descriptions for any words or names that seem hard to pronounce. Following the word, include the pronunciation in parenthesis, written in lowercase. Follow the last name KUSHKITUAH with (Koosh-kit-oo-ah).

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