How To Mark Your Bible

How to mark your Bible
One of the most glorious sights is a Bible stained and battered by decades of heavy usage. But how do you mark and underline your Bible in a way that makes sense and is useful? Here I try to give some helpful advice.

Purpose - Benefits of Marking Your Bible

  • Quicker Navigation – You will be able to identify important information, verses and facts quicker and more easily when you visually highlight them.
    • important verses (for you personally or within a certain chapter or passage)
    • important aspects (like keywords, references, etc.)
    • specific categories (like prayers, verses that talk about His love for us, etc.)
  • Keep Insights – You can preserve and quickly regain important insights that you have gained by reading certain verses or passages if you highlight and connect specific words or add further information.
  • Personalize your Bible – Let your Bible be an expression of your personal walk and relationship with Jesus as you underline those things that He speaks and highlights to you and that you worked and prayed through on your journey into His heart.

Advice - Helpful Tips For Marking Your Bible

  • Systematic – Try to create a system of which colors and shapes you want to use for which purpose. Without a system we tend to underline things that stick out with the pen that is at hand, no matter which color it is. That's not wrong but our Bible will sooner or later be an explosion of rainbowish lines which makes the whole thing rather useless. Try to come up with a system that actually enhances your studies and devotional times.
  • Consistent – When you got a system, stick to it as it will be most effective if you do so. That's why it's wisest to figure it out as early as possible, actually before you start.
  • Economical – Underline only the most important things. Many always underline the whole verse but that's often not the best way. It really improves usefulness to only underline keywords or phrases because it will be easier to find them again and it gives you freedom to highlight other parts of the verse differently when you identify other aspects as well.
  • Specific – It can be helpful to vary your system for certain books as needed so as to have different or additional categories in specific books. For instance you can use a certain color for prophetic fulfillments of Jesus in the Gospels but you might not need this category in, say, James so you can give this color a different meaning there.
  • Creative – Feel free to be creative and vary as necessary to enhance usefulness.
  • Personal – Use one color (or more) for your personal life focus concerning ministry, something that has to do with your overall ministry calling that Jesus has given you. It will tremendously enhance your studies while you are progressing on the journey into being used by the power of the Holy Spirit on the basis of the Word of God.

Options – Some Ways To Mark Your Bible

  • Colors – Use colors that are easily distinguishable. This will limit the numbers of options you have. The most useful colors are red, green, yellow, blue, purple, orange, black, gray, pink. You can also use their dark and light shades if they don't look too similar. Also, with colors you can create sub-categories to all the following ways.
  • Underlining – The most simplistic approach: a line below a word, phrase or verse.
  • Highlighting – Colorize the background of words, phrases or verses. Beware of too dark colors as they might make it hard to read the words you highlighted. Has strongest effect so it might be most useful for keywords. Can be combined with underlining – different colors are possible.
  • Circling – Draw a circle around a word, phrase or verse. Works best for single words or short phrases on the same line.
  • Framing – As opposed to circling, framing has sharp corners. Can be easily used for entire verses and even longer passages.
  • Symbols – Next to the text or on the margin. There are no limits in creativity when you use symbols. They can be most helpful to categorize verses or passages. Some possible symbols: cross, star, blood, bread, cloud, crown, hands, heart and so on.
  • Annotations – Short notes next to the text or on the margin. For example to put down the meaning of a metaphor used in a verse or a reference to another text. Of course, often there will not be enough space to put longer notes.
  • Connections – Connections between words, phrases or verses through a line, arrow or a different kind of connection. This only works on the same page and when close together since you don't want to have lines crossing through two whole pages.

The Way I Do It – For Your Inspiration

  • Now you might be wondering where to start. So here I want to give you a quick overview of my own method which you can adapt or use as inspiration for your own.
  • This is my working system. It's a continually developing system. I'm not fully pleased with it yet, but so far it's the most useful to me.
  • Underlining and the Main Meaning of the Colors
    • Red – Divine Romance
      • Containing aspects: God's love for me, my love for God, relationship with God, bridal paradigms (example: Is 62:4)
      • This is my primary category to which all else are subordinate (meaning if they fit into this category as well as in others, they will most likely get red). I want to be able to quickly identify verses that connect my heart with Him and His love.
    • Blue – Knowledge of God
      • Containing aspects: knowing God, pursuing God, God's character, names, attributes, emotions that aren't already covered by Divine Romance (example: Ex 34:6)
    • Yellow – Promises & End-Times
      • Containing aspects: God's promises both personal and eschatological (example: Ps 36:8)
      • When there are “If.. then...”-promises, then only the “then”-part is yellow.
    • Orange – Ministry
      • Containing aspects: ministry, the second great commandment, servanthood, things the Bible exhorts me to do, the “if...”-part of promises (example: John 15:10)
    • Green – Identity in Christ
      • Containing aspects: my legal status as belonging to Jesus (apart from Divine Romance), my identity in Christ before God, the enemy and the world (example: Rom 8:1)
    • Purple – House of Prayer Reality
      • Containing aspects: worship, gift of prophecy, prophetic worship, prayer, fasting, intercession, Sermon on the Mount lifestyle, Tabernacle of David, temple (example: Is 56:7)
      • This is my personal ministry category functioning as the overall class for my life focus in ministry.
  • Circling Words
    • I often circle single words in the specific color to identify key-words or sequences within a verse or passage. It helps me to find verses faster and to quickly recapture the basic statements of a passage.
  • Framing Verses
    • I only frame verses or passages, never single words. I often use it when there is a culmination of attributes and I would need to underline most of it. So I only frame the whole passage and am free to use other colors as needed to underline in the passage.
    • I slightly varied the use of the colors for framed verses.
    • Blue – Longer passages that talk about the beauty of Jesus, His character and spiritual makeup (example: Rev 1:13-18)
    • Green – As a counterpart to blue focusing on Jesus, I frame passages green that talk a lot about my identity in Him (example: SoS 4:1-15)
    • Purple – Prayers, both biblical and verses I often use as personal prayers, especially apostolic prayers in the New Testament (example: Eph 3:16-19)
  • Annotations
    • I use annotations for the following 4 reasons: 1) short notes, 2) references similar verses, 3) reference or short explanation to symbols, words and phrases, 4) reference to original text when another Bible verse is quoted (very common in NT)
  • When helpful, I use connections, but I haven't even started using symbols as I have still a lot of other options to extend the system I use.



How do you mark your Bible? Inspire us and others by sharing your method with us.

13 comments:

  1. Thank u. This is very helpful & well explained. Am so excited 2 start implimenting this method. God bless u, & continue 2 make ur ministry & walk with God a blessing 2 many. :)

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  2. Thank u. This is very helpful & well explained. Am so excited 2 start implimenting this method. God bless u, & continue 2 make ur ministry & walk with God a blessing 2 many. :)

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  3. Why, thank-you so much! This is seriously helpful.

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  4. It was very helpful, thank you very much! Blessings.

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    1. I really want to thank all of you guys for your kind words and your support. It makes me very happy to see how this article continues to help and bless people! Blessings to all of you as you embark on the journey to encounter God more in Scripture!

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  5. Do you have a specific Bible that allows you to highlight without bleed through? I've been searching forever and can't find one with thick enough pages!

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    1. My Bible has very thin pages as well. But I use colored pencils instead of highlighters which works very well for me.

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    2. Thanks for the reply! I'll give that a try.

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  6. I am using Sharpie Gel highlighter and it works great.

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  7. I ordered some highlighters that I was told were great for bibles. They are from Zebrite.. :)

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  8. I wish I had read this article earlier as my Bible is marked already without any systematic colouring as advised by you. Thank you very much. I will keep this in mind for my next Bible.

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    1. The Bible you have right now is a good place to start figuring out a system that works for you. You can try things, experiment, change the way you do it, etc. It's better to experiment with a Bible where it's not so bad when you make a "mistake". And when you find a system that works for you (took a while for me), write it down, buy a new Bible, stick it to the inside of the cover and start using it. :)

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