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Tips for Formatting Title Sequences

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/22/2009

Here are a few simple tips for formatting your specific title sequence when video editing.

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    Naming Names

    Title screens are one of the most integral parts of post-production and are usually separated from the general editing process in professional filmmaking. Since you do not have graphic designers and companies dedicated to title animations you are likely going to have to do this yourself. Most non-linear editing suites include fairly intricate title creation modules inside their software, and many of the higher end packages include outside software for creating more upscale animations. The principles, however, remain the same no matter what resource you are using to create this title sequence. Here are a few tips for meeting the goals set out by a standard title sequence.

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    The most important thing with title sequences, and all text in your film, is clarity. Choose font and size that people will be able to read, usually going toward sans serif fonts that avoid extravagance. Make sure that the title itself takes prominence over the rest of the opening credits, possibly even changing its color or font.

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    When you are taking a title sequence a step further you are looking to maintain the tone of the film itself. You do this with the music, the speed and quality of the animation, text choices, and all background material. The title sequence should contribute something to the rest of the film and at the very least set the tone. You may want to freeze out the tone entirely by going bare bones, which can work both for and against you.

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    Screen Placement

    There are standards you can follow, though you may want to break the mold for theatrics. Conventionally the title itself will be in the center of the screen while the lower third is where you will put the credits before and after the title. Make sure that no matter where you position your title and credits that they are going to be inside the proper area of the screen. This means avoiding text that will be unavailable on other types of distribution models. Often times your preview monitor is not accurate as to where the television or film screen will cut off content. That principle works the same thing with framing action in the normal production process.