The perfect voice-over script

June 14, 2019

The perfect voice-over script

- the manuscript


The written word and speech are very different - and writing for speaking is a special form of text. This guide will help you write in a way that allows the speaker to focus entirely on speaking. To do so, they need a script that is easy to read, error-free and unambiguous. This makes the execution simpler, faster and as a result more cost effective.


“Come, let’s eat, Peter.” or “Come, let’s eat Peter.” - a small but huge difference. ;-)
(Oh no, a smiley, how do we read that?)

For an optimal voiceover text you must consider:

•  formatting
•  accentuation / emphasis
•  font type and size
•  use of special characters
•  use of numbers
•  handling abbreviations and proper names
•  the pronunciation guide
•  the time code
•  naming the file
•  the file format

VOX-OVER has successfully managed large and small projects (over 1500 of them) for numerous customers over the past years and have found suitable solutions for all tasks and questions. We would be happy to assist you too!

Trevor Hurst & Markus Löhr

Our promise:

  • Bespoke support for your projects
  • Guaranteed quality according to broadcast standards
  • 100% native speakers, TV-radio quality speakers
  • Reliable scheduling and implementation
  • Legal reliability through NDAs with suppliers
  • Legal compliance in usage rights and licensing
  • Archiving and easy continuation of all projects

The formating

The font must be easily readable, e.g. Arial, font size 12 point with a line spacing of 1.2. The text should be left-justified and have a right hand margin of about 1/4 page (4 cm, 1.6”) for notes. Please refrain from comments or production notes: They are distracting.

The accentuation / emphasis

If terms are to be emphasized, please mark them in bold or underline them. Experienced speakers usually know how to emphasize, so only very important parts should be marked. It is best to indicate pauses with paragraphs.

The use of special characters

Slashes are used frequently, but how do you pronounce them?  “Comments/Information” can be spoken in five ways: 

- Comments slash information
- Comments and information
- Comments or information
- Comments and or information
- Comments or rather information

You can see how important it is to write exactly what is to be spoken, with no room for interpretation. The same applies to additions in brackets, for example “Mr(s).” Is this to be read as:

- Mister and missus or
- Missus and mister or
- Misters and missuses?

The writing of numbers

The pronunciation of numbers must also be defined. Should 520 be spoken as “five_two_zero” or as “five hundred and twenty” or even “five-twenty”? In this case, it is best to add the pronunciation in brackets after the number, i.e. 520 (five hundred and twenty). Dates and years can also be described unambiguously in this way: 2017 (two_thousand_seventeen or twenty_seventeen), 4/7/2011 april_seventh_twenty_eleven).

Handling abbreviations and proper names

How do you pronounce “ICE”?

-   ”I_C_E”
-   ”Intercity Express“ or
-   ”Ice”?

If “ICE” is to mean the abbreviation of Intercity Express, it is best to write “I_C_E.” The underscore marks a short pause.

If abbreviations such as “i.a.” or “approx.” are to be pronounced as words, write “inter alia” or “approximately”, otherwise the speaker will pronounce these as “I_A” or “approx.”

If proper names or trademarks are to be pronounced in a language other than the target language, please indicate this in the document. An example: “Merck” is a company name that can be pronounced in both German and English. Even specialists disagree on the pronunciation of some technical terms, which is where a recorded audio file can help.

On Forvo, for example, you can find solutions to the trickiest pronunciation questions.

The pronunciation guide

If a text contains a lot of abbreviations and technical terms, we recommend a pronunciation guide in a table format. This allows the speaker to look up the correct pronunciation if there is any uncertainty.

If terms are to be spoken in languages other than the target language, please note this in your voiceover manuscript. In technical texts, it is often the case that many technical terms are pronounced in English, although the target language is different. However, it is helpful for the flow of reading if you do not have to look up the correct pronunciation too often and if the correct pronunciation is already in the text.

Tip: Try reading the text aloud to yourself, then mistakes, duplications and linguistic weaknesses will be noticed quickly. But please don’t read too quickly! Experienced speakers usually take more time and let the text come to life. One more tip: 400 words correspond to about 3 minutes of reading.

And be careful: Even small spelling mistakes can completely change a sentence’s meaning. (Come on, let's eat, Peter. / Come on, let's eat Peter.)

The timecode

If the text will be synchronized to images, timecode indications at the start and end of each text block help. Please note that texts in other languages may be longer or shorter. It is best to keep this in mind during translation.

The file name

If the voice recording is to be exported in multiple files, please mark these with file names in the text, preferably as a simple numerical sequence. It is easiest if the names are numbered consecutively. This also greatly simplifies follow-up questions and correction loops.

The file format

We recommend that you send us the text in PDF or Word format. This ensures compatibility with all operating systems and devices - so your text is guaranteed to arrive in the desired formatting.

So good luck! 



The Speaker Text Guide is intended to be a valuable and useful reference for anyone involved in voiceover recording.

Do you have any suggestions, additions or criticism? Please send them to us, we look forward to receiving them!


Perfect voice-overs, successful project.