7 junio, 2024

Directions in texts and in theater (with examples)

The dimensions They are a resource that the author adds to a text to give it greater accuracy. Its use helps to give clarity to what you want to express. The word «dimension» etymologically comes from Latin. It is made up of the prefix ad (towards), the root cautus (prudent) and the suffix “ción” (of action). It means “clarification” or “warning”.

The use of the dimensions has been given since the time of Ancient Greece. In the Greek theater, the playwright was in charge of signaling to each actor about the actions according to the dialogues. This teaching was called «didascalica», we can say that this is the predecessor of the dimension.

Currently the dimensions can have different types of uses and in turn several ways of being expressed. We can find them in plays and literature, it is also well known for its implementation in technical drawing.


What are the quotes for?

We can say that the dimensions have as their main purpose to clarify an action through instructions and markings. The author makes use of this with the purpose of implying or teaching different aspects in a precise manner. The observer can find dimensions in different areas, among them we have:

– Notes on literature or texts.

– In plays.

– In technical drawing.

Notes on literature or texts

The dimensions used narratively in the literature are those that are added by means of a dash (—). We find them added to the text when the author wants to clarify an action or intervention of a character. The author uses them to qualify, comment or specify an event in the narrative.

The dimensions in texts have several characteristics:

– Precision

It must be clear that when introducing a dimension, your intervention must be short and emphatic. If it is too long, you can lose the essence of the different dialogues and give visibility to the narrator. Therefore, precision in dimensioning is one of the most important rules and should not be neglected.

– Use of dashes (—)

These are also known as long dashes. Here its uses:

in the narrative

According to the Royal Spanish Academy, the directions must be added with opening and closing lines during the narrative.


– Peter walked -quickly- through the mountains in full light.

– Maria -who knew everything- he fell silent and waited for his mother.

– I was sad -as never before-, but I had to move on.

in the dialogues

In the interventions of the characters, the use of stage directions presents two possibilities:

1) Delimitation at the end of the character’s intervention and use a single line. Example:

—What is happening? Tell me, don’t lie! said Maria.

2) Delimitation during a character’s intervention and use the two dashes. In this (as it happens during the narrative) it must be clear that no space can be left between the dashes and the first and last dimension words that are introduced. Example:

I told you to be honest with me. said Pedro, trembling. now everything will change.

– Not to be confused with the hyphen (-)

The RAE also specifies that the dash should not be confused with the hyphen, since its length is much greater. To be exact, the dash is four times as long as the dash. Example:

– Stripe (-).

– Script (-).

– Earrings with punctuation marks

Another aspect to take into account regarding the annotations in literary texts is that if they are used to interrupt an intervention or during the narrative, the corresponding punctuation mark goes after the final line of the annotation. Example:

– Maria wanted to scream —shaked—, but it was impossible. (Correct).

– Maria wanted to scream, —shaked— but it was impossible. (incorrect).

– The verbs related to “to say” in literary annotations

In literary texts, when the dimension in the dialogues is given by a verb associated with «to say», then this is written in lower case. If, on the other hand, another action other than «speaking» comes, then the intervention is placed in capital letters. Examples:

«How long will this be?» Peter yelled, exhausted.

«Until you learn your lesson.» —Then, Maria looked at him and left.

In Pedro’s intervention, the author points out that it is a man’s dialogue with the verb “to shout”, associated with “to say”, therefore it is in lower case. While María’s intervention is understood to be her participation and the action of «leaving» is indicated, therefore the initial word is in capital letters.

Stage directions in plays

The dimensions in plays are those indications introduced by the director or scriptwriter suggesting everything regarding the attitudes of the performers. The annotations in the theatrical slang are generally implemented to clarify what refers to the staging.

This type of clarification is usually placed differently from that used in literary works. Usually the stage directions are enclosed in parentheses, other times we can find brackets or quotation marks. On some occasions, we can additionally find italic or bold letters.

We can find different types of directions in a play, among these we have:

– Those added by the scriptwriter to the director

In this case, the author dictates some instructions to the director explaining details about the setting or place where a specific event takes place. They can refer to the build of the characters, hair color, or type of voice that is preferred for the representation. Also aspects related to the type of music or light effects.

– The scriptwriter’s annotations to the characters

These clarifications go directly from the writer to the actors. They frame any action or movement that can help make the show.


(The day was clear, birds chirping sounded)

Pedro: I have always thought of it as the best of all, it is unique. (He approaches the table, takes the book and reads it for a few seconds).

(Maria enters the scene)

María: I heard you, Pedro… You’re talking about Ana, right? (Pedro drops the book on the ground and goes slowly towards Maria).

– Those added by the director

The director of the work may additionally add any dimension that he deems appropriate in different aspects.

Dimensions in the technical drawing

The dimension in the technical drawing refers to the dimensions or other characteristics of an object such as materials, distances, references, etc. These can be represented by lines, notes, symbols or figures depending on the characteristic that you want to delimit.

Mainly in the technical drawing we find two classes of dimensions:

dimension dimensions

These help the observer to know the proportions of the object.

location dimensions

They make it easy to know the location of internal objects in a figure.


dimension. (2020). Spain: Wikipedia. Recovered from: es.wikipedia.org.
The annotations in narrative. (2014). Spain: Victor J. Sanz. Recovered from: victorjsanz.es.
Stripe. (2005). Spain: Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts. Recovered from: rae.es.
Victor J. Sanz. (2017). Common mistakes of new writers and how to avoid them. Venezuela: Google Books. Retrieved from: books.google.co.ve.
Theatrical dictionary: «Didascalia». (2010). (N/A). pandora theater Recovered from: teatro-pandora.blogspot.com.

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