What Do INT and EXT Mean in a Screenplay

What Do INT and EXT Mean in a Screenplay?

If you’re new to screenwriting, scene headings or slug lines are probably something that you’re just diving into and getting familiar with. The use of various abbreviations and other terms in a screenplay provides pertinent details. Into the setting, location, timing and other important details that the reader, camera crew, and other members of the production might need for various reasons. But what do INT and EXT mean in a screenplay? And how does this information help other members of the production crew?

What Do INT and EXT Mean in a Screenplay?

The first element of the scene heading, INT/EXT is often used to describe the location of a scene. Whether it’s taking place INT. meaning interior or EXT. meaning exterior.

All master or primary scene headings will include the INT or EXT element which denotes where the scene is taking place. 

However, secondary scene headings or sluglines do not always include the INT/EXT delineation. In fact, you might notice a secondary subheading or slug that appears with a period followed immediately by a location.

For example, IN THE LOBBY. In cases like this, the period denotes a reminder that we’re still in the INT or EXT. That was originally denoted for the master or primary scene heading. And the IN THE LOBBY represents a location within the original scene.

What if a Scene Takes Place Inside and Outside?

When using the INT and EXT elements in a screenplay, what happens if a scene transitions from interior (INT.) to exterior (EXT.)? Or if it transitions visa-versa?

Generally, when a scene transitions from interior to exterior, a new scene heading will be included such that you might see the following:


Action line items.


In the above example, the scene transitioned from the interior, in the kitchen at night, to the exterior in the backyard. And the word CONTINUOUS is used to show that it’s still the same time – night.

However, in cases where a scene breaks between both INT. and EXT. you’ll create a scene heading that is labeled as follows:


Action line items.

Example Breakdown

In the example above, the scene is taking place both interior and exterior. Perhaps there is communication between a character that is in her bedroom. And another that is just outside the bedroom window?

These types of scene headings, with INT./EXT. Are often used for any scene that takes place in a car such that part of the scene plays out inside the car and part plays out outside the car. 

So, what do INT and EXT mean in a screenplay? INT means interior and EXT means exterior. Essentially anytime a scene takes place inside a building or a car the scene heading will denote INT. and anytime the scene takes place outside the EXT. for exterior use. 

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