The slug line is a convention found in any professional screenplay. Its purpose is to describe, briefly, the setting for the scene's action; this consists of the setting (INT or EXT), geographic location (if applicable), general location, and the time of day or night. Usually (read: always) capitalized.
For example:


Usually the slug line is followed by some more integrate description in paragraph form.

Light from the monitor bathes our hero's face as the tension in the room grows, his face is expectant, knowing that he is very near the solution. Strewn about the room are cables of every description. Patch panels and antiquated equipment line the ill-lit walls like eerie eggshell-coloured monoliths.

The slug line gives structure to the screenplay and a starting point to the director.
Another meaning for the term "slug line" is fairly unique to the Washington, DC area. In DC lingo, the "slug line" is another method of getting around the DC metro area, during rush hour.

The slug lines originated in the 1970s, during the OPEC oil embargoes. Simply put, to lower costs and to avoid the terrible DC rush hour traffic on and around the Beltway, drivers prefer to take the less-congested HOV lanes (High Occupancy Vehicle) that run along I-66 and I-95, into the city. However, an HOV lane is just that -- it requires the vehicle to have a minimum number passengers, in order to permit use of the lane; People caught in violation of this regulation face stiff fines.

Enter the slug line. Usually (although not always) situated near Metro Bus stops, people congregate, waiting for a driver to approach. When s/he pulls up to the slug line, the driver will announce where s/he is headed, i.e., "The Pentagon" or "Metro Center". Those in the crowd wishing to arrive at said location get into the vehicle, as capacity allows. Thus, having a full vehicle, the driver can get on the HOV lane. At the same time, saves the one "slugging" it bus and/or train fare.

As slugging has evolved, so have various rules of etiquette, regarding this method of transportation. A few of the most important ones are as follows:

  • No money ever changes hands "on the slug", nor is it requested or offered. Again, the slug is something of a symbiotic relationship.

  • No conversation ever exists on the slug, unless the driver him/herself initiates it, and even then, there are limits on conversation, as to avoid potentially inflaming the ire of the driver or passengers.

  • No woman is ever "left alone" at the stop. This is done out of concern for a woman's safety.

Over the years, there have been worries about the slug lines disappearing, but these have always tended to be unfounded. In fact, more lines continue to form each month. As traffic in the DC metro area continues to get worse, there is no doubt that the slug lines will live on.

More information regarding the slug lines can be found at:

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