Submission Guide: Plot Outlines, Plot Summaries and Plot Synopses

Getting Started > Submission Guides > Plot Summaries

General Rules for All Plot Types

  • Always write in English, regardless of the language of the original film
  • Always write in a sentence case (i.e. don't capitalize every word in the plot)
  • Always do a spell check
  • Don't start your plot with "This film is about...", "This is a story about"
  • Don't include the title's name at the start of the outline ('Star Wars' is about)
  • Don't include analysis or personal opinion (i.e. "This film is one of Hitchcock's finest.")
  • Don't use quotes from the title - these must go in Quotes
  • Don't use block capitals
  • Don't submit website URLs in plots. These must go in External Sites (Titles)
  • Don't use short-hand 'text speak'
  • Don't copy from other websites, which includes blogs or official sites, unless you can prove ownership. Plots must be your original work. All copyrighted material is excluded from the plot summaries database. This includes movie guides, newspapers, and even the blurb on the back of the Blu-ray case.

Plot Outlines

  • Outlines describe the story - don't just write 'A sequel to' 'Based on the book', which people may not have seen or read.
  • Plot outlines should be no longer than 239 characters. Longer plots can be submitted as a plot summary.
  • Avoid spoilers.

Plot Summaries

  • Summaries should be more than 239 characters, but still reasonably brief. Aim for a paragraph or two. Shorter summaries may be re-routed to the outlines list.
  • Try to avoid spoilers. (Some very small spoilers will be allowed, but big spoilers will upset other readers.)
  • IMDb reserves the right to select which plot summary to use. Up to five summaries per title may be kept, but only if they present a differing viewpoint.
  • Actors' Names: You can include actors' names in summaries, but only for principal cast members and only for completed titles. This policy is voluntary, i.e. summaries can still be submitted (and will still be accepted) without actors' names.
  • Further, plot summaries must be your original work. Do not copy from other websites, which includes blogs or official sites, unless you can prove ownership.
  • Try to keep your BY: line consistent if you write more than one summary. You will never make it into the top 20 if you have 5 variations of your name/email address. You may enter Anonymous (or, equivalently, leave it blank) if you wish. We recommend the format Your Name <email@example.com> if you want to include your email address. Please note: if you include your email address it will be published.
  • IMPORTANT - corrections and By: lines Bylines are important to the original author and other users. If you make corrections (spelling, grammar, etc) to a Plot Summary, please DO NOT change the byline. If you disagree with the plot summary and want to substantively change it, please submit a new one with your own byline rather than edit the original and add your own name to it.
  • Standard qv-reference format can be used when referring to other titles.

Plot Synopses

  • A synopsis should be a detailed description of the entire plot of the title, including spoilers, so users who haven't seen a movie or missed an episode of a TV series can read everything about the title. A synopsis must include exclusively details of the story of the film, with no commentary.
  • A maximum of one synopsis is allowed per title. Please modify the existing item rather than delete the live one and/or add a new one.
  • On a parent series please provide an overview of the entire series followed by any main events per season under season headings.
  • Please note that unlike plot summaries the standard qv-reference format cannot be used for plot synopses. [link=title number or person number] will link to a title/name const. You can retrieve the person number, also known as the nconst, from the URL of a person's page. For example, [link=nm2106835] becomes Cynthia Lea. You can retrieve the title number, also known as the tconst, from the URL of the title's page. For example, [link=tt0093832] becomes Red's Dream.
  • If you notice constant issues of sabotage/vandalism etc. please report these to us via Get Satisfaction or our Helpdesk system.

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