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Final Draft 11 review

Final Draft 11 is used by professionals, and has all the tools you'd expect for a market-leading piece of screenwriting software.

Final Draft 11 review
(Image: © Cast and Crew)

Our Verdict

We love Final Draft 11, and the fact that it is so integrated with other script-generating and editing systems. It's feature packed, and easy to use... but does come at a very steep price.

For

  • Great formatting options
  • Beat Board is easy to use
  • Revision history is handy

Against

  • Expensive
  • Little guidance on use

Final Draft 11 is a powerful tool for generating scripts. It's easily the best screenwriting software available today, if you're a professional involved with script generation for movies and TV shows, or even theater. The only real issue is that you do very much pay for it, with a hefty one-off payment of $250. There are often sales and special offers on this price, but the fact remains that you're laying out a couple of hundred dollars minimum, so you should consider whether or not you're serious enough about screenwriting to justify the outlay. The latest version is Final Draft 11, and if you have one of the previous iterations, you can upgrade to take advantage of this year's new features, at the reduced cost of $100. 

So, what do you get? What we like about Final Draft is that it's an all-in-one solution for screenwriting, and not just a glorified word processor, which makes it useful for several types of production - be that traditional scripts, marketing, or stage plays. While most scripting apps and software programs do the formatting work for you, few offer as many ease-of-use features as Final Draft. There are ten templates for different types of scene from a drop-down menu in the navigation, which is a good place to start. You'll also find things like a simple save menu with options for custom-time autosaves and back-ups, so you're less likely to lose work in the nav, along with options for spellchecking and collaborative notes, which we'll talk about a little later.

In writing view we appreciate the small details, like the ability to repeat custom lines for replicating names, meaning you don't have to keep typing out character names in dialogue exchanges. The SmartType feature simply gives you a dropdown menu of inputted names to choose from, so you can select from here instead of repeating the text. It cuts down on typos too.

Final Draft 11 review

(Image credit: Cast and Crew)

There's a similar time-saving device that allows you to store alternative lines for common phrases, which helps you keep speech fresh and saves time on typing it out each time the line is used. Speaking of which, Final Draft 11 comes with voice recording integration, which essentially translates the lines you read into words. It's very accurate too, although not without making certain mistakes with stronger accents. It's doubtful many will use the voice feature instead of typing, but it's a neat feature to have.

As you'd expect with professional-grade screenwriting software, Final Draft 11 comes with a built in collaboration tool, that allows writers to comment and chat about various pages of your script. This essentially cuts down on the need for a separate chat program, like Slack, but is far from an exhaustive solution. It also relies on your collaborator using the same software, and depending on what level of screenwriter you are, that becomes more or less likely. Amateurs will find limited use here.

Outside the writing view, there are several other areas of Final Draft 11 that writers will enjoy. The Beat Board is a handy way to track the overall narrative of your script, and to place scenes of dialogue in context. It's easy to use, has unlimited space for ideas, and you can insert images and colored blocks to either make your plan more visual or to draw attention to key scene types. We found it easy to flick between the Beat Board and core script pages too, which is essential.

Another great feature that not all screenwriting software boasts is a revision mode, that allows you to mark and revisit various stages of the script. Chances are you'll want to see how script changes impact continuity, or to revive older lines of speech that fit better with the current structure, and the revision menu allows you to do this.

Final Draft 11 review

(Image credit: Cast and Crew)

Other nice to have features include the ability to include title and end pages, custom tagging for various other parts of the production, and the compatibility with characters from 97 other languages, so you can maintain the authenticity of your language and share with collaborators internationally.

Are there drawbacks? Well, price is one - this is one of the most expensive options, so think carefully before investing and be prepared to upgrade with each iteration, as some newer features aren't compatible with older versions of Final Draft. The lower cost of upgrade does mitigate this a little. The other slight downside is a lack of guidance. Although Final Draft 11 is easy to use, amateurs may benefit from more advice and tutorial options than you get here. However, there are several tutorials on the main website, not only for using Final Draft but also for script writing as a whole, something most will really appreciate.

Overall, Final Draft 11 is the gold standard for Screenwriting software, but it comes at a price. It has most of the tools you need, and while some aren't as fully featured as separate external programs, what you get here is enough to take you from idea to final screenplay.