Yo, Internets, wassup. In case you’ve come here from the introduction, or from the first real meaty part of this “how to”, you’re here now and that’s a beautiful thing. Let’s continue!

Step 5: Markup those Pages

Here’s where we part company with those simpletons who use paper. The Preview app is remarkably capable for this purpose. You can draw lines, highlight (or even redact, in a way) text, and underline, and even add text.

So change back to one of the page views (“Content Only”, “Thumbnails”, or “Table of Contents”) and click on the little highlighter-looking thing, circled again for your convenience:


The way I do it, I first set up the “highlighter” to grey:


Then set the line tool up, and the color to gray as well:



Come to think of it, now would be a fabulous time to save your work, Randy!

Okay, that’s taken care of. I chose “irobot-sides-day-1.pdf”, so that it’s clear what the project name, type of script excerpt, and what day it’s for. Moving on.

Now just get busy doing the markup. I like to highlight the non-shooting scenes on the page with gray, and then X out the scene on top of that:


Step 6: Double Up!(?)

So, the next decision point in putting this together is upon you: do you double up pages or shuffle them in order to produce them? The answer, at least for me, depends on how many pages are currently in the PDF for the sides. If it’s eight pages or fewer, I figure I’ll double them up. If it’s more than eight, I start to prefer shuffling them. In our case, it looks like we’ve got six pages, so we’ll just double them up, meaning dragging-and-dropping each page next to itself while holding down the “Alt/Option” key. I generally like to do this on the “Contact Sheet” view



And after:


Shuffling? Now You’re Making Sh*t Up

Shuffling, by the way, is my own highly scientific way of organizing the pages so that, when printed two-to-a-page, you can slice the paper in half, take the left half and lay it on top of the right half and you get one complete set of sides. It’s like magic once you figure it out, and with Preview it’s pretty easy.

In short, take the number of pages in the PDF, and pick the page just past the middle page (or put another way, if your pages are numbered 1-6 in our example, you’d pick page 4, since it’s the page just past 3, which is the “middle” page of the PDF. Then starting with that page (in our example, page 4), drag it between the first two pages in the PDF (pages 1 and 2). Then grab page 5, drag it between pages 2 and 3, and so on. It can get confusing, and this is admittedly an area where people can get horribly lost. So if you have any doubt in your abilities to stay organized with your PDF, then maybe you should stay away from this technique.

Step 7: Dumping It To PDF, Again?

This is another feature baked into Preview that makes it really well suited for doing this task. Actually, it’s baked into the default print dialog for Mac OS X, but programs like Adobe Acrobat like to override the default print dialog and make you use their crappy version. But that’s just me editorializing. Back to work.

So the next thing to do with this doubled up PDF (or shuffled, if that’s how you went) and bring up the print dialog: ⌘-P on a Mac, Ctrl-P on Windows.


Where it says “Preview” just below “Orientation” on the right side, click that and select “Layout”. On “Pages per Sheet”, pick “2”:


You’ll notice that the little thumbnail is now showing two pages on a single sheet! Now quick, before you gush over with excitement, click the PDF button on the bottom left of the dialog. Select “Save as PDF…” or at least “Open PDF in Preview”. Then save this new PDF as the actual sides that you’ll print. Here’s what they ultimately come out looking:


I feel pretty strongly about saving the PDF of the two-up sides, because if you need to print extras or keep them for archives or whatever. And you can save off the sides after you’ve marked them up in Step 5, if you need a full-size version.

Step 8: Profit!

So that’s it. Print as many of these as you need (or, since they’re doubled-up, half as many) and then use a paper cutter to divide them neatly in two. You can shrink and add the call sheet on top, or better still, add the call sheet as a page in the full-size PDF of the sides, and then you’re really running a tight ship!

From here, you can experiment to your heart’s delight. I currently use a mix of Preview and Adobe Acrobat Pro to do a very precise and anal-retentive rendering of sides, including the following additions:

  • Adding text at the top of each page containing the log line from the call sheet for that scene.
  • If a scene ends at the end of a page (i.e. the next page is a totally different scene) then I use the line tool to draw a line across the bottom under the last text of the scene and then under it, add text saying “END SCENE”
  • On the very last page of the sides, I add text saying “END SIDES”
  • And if the last page of the sides coincides with a page where the scene ends at the bottom of the page, I do both the line across the bottom, and then add the text “END SCENE – END SIDES”

I do the annotations and text additions in Adobe Acrobat Pro because a) I have a Creative Cloud subscription and it comes with it; b) it has a grid overlay and snaps to the grid, so that your lines are consistently placed on the page; and c) it allows much easier text additions to existing PDFs that you’re editing. Apple’s Preview is admittedly weak in this regard, as it doesn’t allow snapping to a grid, using guides or adding text other than annotation text (which is not exactly the same thing as adding text to the body of a PDF — but then, this is an advanced topic, and I’m really only trying to show that doing sides electronically is totally doable today without spending a ton of money).

Now go forth and make sides without all the damn 1990’s copier technology!


  • Yes James, that’s for you.