Writing and Highlighting in Your Bible

Do you write in your Bible? For me, it depends. I tend to leave most of them alone, saving the notes and highlighting for editions designed for it: wide margins. Here’s a photo of my Cambridge KJV wide margin opened to Ephesians 1. The notes are for a class I taught on the text.
Ephesians 1 - Cambridge Wide Margin KJV
Over at The Foolish Galatian, Matt Blair has gone crazy with his Zebra highlighter, marking up his new Personal Size Reference ESV. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been reading mine daily and really loving it — but I haven’t worked up the nerve yet to write in it (and probably won’t). Now I can experience it vicariously through Matt (and so can you).
Matt also links to an excellent post by Jesus Saenz on what kind of pen to use when marking your Bible (a Pigma Micron). In the past, I’ve used regular ballpoints, which don’t seem to bleed through as much as my usual rollerballs. If I ever work up the nerve to mark up my Personal Size Reference ESV, I will now know the best tools for the job.

77 Comments on “Writing and Highlighting in Your Bible

  1. I had previously been using pencil in my NASB wide margin (in calfskin). Thanks to Jesus I’m now using the Pigma Micron 005 for notes and 01 for underlining (with a ruler). Much better. Thanks Jesus.

  2. One the whole, I tend to avoid writing in most books (that’s why God gave us post-it notes), but I have brought myself to write in my journaling Bible. It would be rather absurd to have a journaling Bible and not use the journaling part of it. I received Calvin’s Commentaries for my birthday and have been making many more notes than before as I read through Romans.

  3. Glad to see what others do, as I can’t bring myself to write in my Bibles. Why not? I worry that I’ll be immediately sorry I wrote what I did, and I’ll wish I had written something else. I’d rather keep a separate notebook. I realize there’s a whole art/science/genre of notetaking that I haven’t mastered.
    And I’ve never, personally, understood highlighting. I don’t understand what to highlight, first of all, and I don’t know what I would do with the highlighted text later: read only that, and ignore what didn’t qualify for highlighting?
    These are neuroses I haven’t shaken off since college days, obviously.

  4. I’m still working up the courage to write in a bible for the first time. I bought an In Touch NASB for this purpose but have yet to break it in, as it were. Maybe I’ll set this as a belated New Year’s resolution and try to write in it by December 31. I already bought some Sigma Microns in brown after reading Jesus Saenz post linked above, but so far have only practiced with them on notebook paper (and they are nice).

  5. Scott, to your point, I always keep in mind that I may one day decide to trash my NASB (I had only recently started with pencil before switching to the Pigma Microns). I have numerous other Bibles around. My few notes would be of little consequence ultimately. For now, I’m primarily using them to study the text a week or so ahead of when my pastor (RC Sproul) will be preaching from it. This has helped me be a better listener during the service.

  6. I can’t imagine not writing in my Bible. I feel at home when I’m teaching or reading seeing my notes and highlights. My favorite is my NIV Cambridge wide margin (recently rebound by Mechling in chocolate brown goatskin). I taught both a OT and NT survey classes (with mid-terms and a final) at church using that Bible shortly after I bought it. After something that intense I keep going back to it. That’s why I’m eager for the ESV Cambridge wide margin and ready to do another survey class. BLACK LETTER PLEASE!!!

  7. I used to use the zebra highlighters, and if I highlight in my bible they are the ones I use. Lately I have been using the micron pigma pens and I am happy with them. In my wide margin I use a 02Red for underlining and a 005Black for notes. In regular references bibles I use the 02Red for underlining and making short (short because the red is hard for me to read after a while) textual notes on various translations, etc.
    for underlining I have found the PERFECT TOOL, use a business card to underline (the darker the better so you can see the contrast with the paper), business cards are about as wide as most columns in bibles and the paper in the card soaks up any extra ink that could streak on the page.

  8. I don’t write in any of my bibles anymore; I use separate notebooks and journals now. However, I do draw a small cup (like an underlined capital ‘Y’) in the margins in various places in the bible which I feel are appropriate to read before and during communion; over the last 30 years, I have found these by far the most useful marks I have made in a bible.

  9. I write in just about everything. I do have a blank bible that I am getting used too, but I still carry around a smaller bible for daily use at school.
    I usually use a pilot G2 to mark with, I guess I don’t have a bible nice enough to worry about archival quality.

  10. I even have problems with the Pigma Micron pens bleeding through. I kind of hate to use a ballpoint, since they’re not (as) archival and I’m afraid the acids in the ink will degrade the paper over time, but to me it’s less onerous than having the ink bleed through to the other page.

  11. I’ve been using Staedler Textsurfer dry highlighters for many years in combination with fine tip pens — usually Pigma Microns — for making notes in the margins. I’ve got a lot of Bibles, but only mark up a few. My daily use English Bible is the ACC’s KJV/1928 BCP combo. The margins aren’t big enough for notes, but I highlight in several different colours to help me quickly find various passages. I generally use yellow for most highlighting, but I use pink for passages that I’ve found useful in evangelism and a few other colours similarly. In my Oxford wide margin KJV I use a similar highlighting system, but I use the Pigma Microns to make notes in the margins. The books I’ve preached through stand out, because in most cases the margins all around are completely filled with my tiny (think 6 pt) notes crammed everywhere. Honestly, I can’t express how advantageous notetaking in a wide margin Bible has been for my personal study, sermon preparation, group study, etc.
    I’d be curious to know if anyone else is familiar with Jay Adams’ “Christian Counselors New Testament and Proverbs.” This is a great resource. It’s Adams’ own NT translation (which is quite good) oriented toward the nouthetic counselor. It comes pre-highlighted and with notes in the wide margins as well as what might be considered counseling session outlines. I know it sounds weird to purchase Bible that’s already highlighted, but if you do any counseling in your church, this is one of the best resources I’ve think is out there. (http://www.timelesstexts.com/titles/B093.htm)

  12. I found some Zebrite highlighters at LifeWay. So I think they are still out there. I decided to go buy the micron pens. I’ve always had that problem of highlighters bleeding through, I just thought it was inevitable. I like the micron pens a lot. When I realized that the marker highlighters and ball point pens aren’t the best for keeping your Bible in good condition and can actually damage it, I went out and got the Microns. I want to take care of my Bible!

  13. Christ is risen!! It says so right in my goatskin covered Bible!!!

  14. I have long been from the “don’t write in any book for any reason” school, but my Bible is an exception to that rule. For starters taking notes helps me to locate important things later on, things I might not otherwise remember where to find. It also lets me add to the notes already in my Bible and make it personal to me. I even argue with the study notes at times, writing why I believe they are not correct.
    I put notes in my Bible VERY sparingly and never without thinking them over before I write anything. For example, if I hear something at church that I think is worthy of noting in my Bible I will make the note on a scrap of paper, take it home and wait a few days before writing it in my Bible, in this way I avoid spur of the moment notes that I will later wish I had not written.
    I use only the Pigma Micron fine point (0.25mm) pens, these will not fade, are waterproof, acid free and do not bleed. I can also write very small which I think makes the notes look neater.
    I bought a set of six pens all in a different color, I have assigned a different subject to each color, red is “sin & salvation, brown is for historical notes, green for science related notes et cetera. What I do is underline the text I am writing a note about and then make my note in the margin or at the bottom of the page.

  15. @Nathan … I can relate brother. I just bought a Intouch NASB also and had to force myself to transfer some notes to it. But once I got the first note in there, the rest was easy. I figured I already messed it up so might as well move foreward 🙂
    About the topic, I am a fan of reading throug the NT as quickly as I can. Each time highlighting scripts that the Lord brings to light. I use a different color highlighter each time through the NT. What I find is that over the course of a few months the Lord is outlining to me an entire passage of scripture that I may have needed or have actually been living out. It really builds my faith. It helps me to use two different bibles – usually in the $20 range – for this purpose. Each time you read through the NT, you go to the other bible. That way you aren’t tempted to try and make this happen on your own and you can be more objective.

  16. I gave up on highliters and have used colored pencils and pencil shaped crayons now for years. You have a huge array of colors to choose from and nothing bleeds through.

  17. I gave up on highliters and have used colored pencils and pencil shaped crayons now for years. You have a huge array of colors to choose from and nothing bleeds through.

  18. I gave up on highliters and have used colored pencils and pencil shaped crayons now for years. You have a huge array of colors to choose from and nothing bleeds through.

  19. I gave up on highliters and have used colored pencils and pencil shaped crayons now for years. You have a huge array of colors to choose from and nothing bleeds through.

  20. I gave up on highliters and have used colored pencils and pencil shaped crayons now for years. You have a huge array of colors to choose from and nothing bleeds through.

  21. Since you mentioned colored pencils, Crayola has come out with Twistables which are made in crayons and colored pencils. I use the crayons for marking in books and the pencils for my Bibles and they work great and they do not bleed at all. Now for writing notes, I think I am going to get one of the pens you guys have been pushing on some of your blogs…. but for highlighting or underlining, the Twistable color pencils work just fine.

  22. Since you mentioned colored pencils, Crayola has come out with Twistables which are made in crayons and colored pencils. I use the crayons for marking in books and the pencils for my Bibles and they work great and they do not bleed at all. Now for writing notes, I think I am going to get one of the pens you guys have been pushing on some of your blogs…. but for highlighting or underlining, the Twistable color pencils work just fine.

  23. Since you mentioned colored pencils, Crayola has come out with Twistables which are made in crayons and colored pencils. I use the crayons for marking in books and the pencils for my Bibles and they work great and they do not bleed at all. Now for writing notes, I think I am going to get one of the pens you guys have been pushing on some of your blogs…. but for highlighting or underlining, the Twistable color pencils work just fine.

  24. Since you mentioned colored pencils, Crayola has come out with Twistables which are made in crayons and colored pencils. I use the crayons for marking in books and the pencils for my Bibles and they work great and they do not bleed at all. Now for writing notes, I think I am going to get one of the pens you guys have been pushing on some of your blogs…. but for highlighting or underlining, the Twistable color pencils work just fine.

  25. as far as pens go, I absolutely love my Pilot, or is it a Namika, Vanishing point, fine nib. I also have been using, and enjoying, a Sensa Meridian F that was not nearly as expencive. In fact those are no longer made, but you will find many of them around. I read that either people love ’em or hate ’em.
    I still have yet to pull the trigger on the nice Pelikan I have been eyeing up, since it would be like buying 5 or 6 Allans at one time!

  26. I find it easier to use two bibles one on my desk at home that I use to write all kinds of notes and references in and then I have a pristine bible that I carry to church. Any notes that I write at church are one notepads or 3X5 cards. I find that the 3X5 cards are great ie: easy to carry and inexpensive to buy of course that is IMHO.

  27. How stupid to write in books. I value books and Bible far too much. Books are for reading, NOT for writing. Rather to have separate notepad or anything else for making notes.

  28. Zebra highlighters are very nice I used them all the time when I was a teen. You think Matt Blair went crazy with his highlighter, lol you should have seen my teen study Bible every thing I read was highlighted, giving my Bible a nice rainbow effect(I used 5 different colored highlighters). If I can ever get my self to highlight in my new Bible I may get a set of Zebra highlighters. Personally I’ve been using Crayola color pencils in my other Bibles, but I’m not sure if that would be a good idea to use them in my new Intouch Ministries Bible. Zebra highlighters or Crayola color pencils I’m not sure which would be best to use in this Bible? That is if I can get myself to even write in it ROFL.

  29. Ludovit,
    I certainly respect your preference for writing notes on a separate pad. I ask that you please show similar respect to those who DO prefer writing in books, rather than insulting us or implying we don’t value books or the Bible as much as you do.

  30. At first I thought I would never write in my bibles but feel a bit differently now. One of my favorite finds on ebay was an old 1917 Scofield owned by a Northwest Bible institute student in the 1930s. Every page is filled with underlining, colored pencil highlights and many marginal notes, poems on spirituality, etc….. I value this one more than any other I have beacause of the notes. They helped me to make connections between verse i would have missed and provide a connection to this past student via an insight to their thoughts.
    I had been keeping a small notebook of favorite verses and passages gleaned from throughout the bible. I finally decided to take one of my bibles, a new, small pocketable version and highlight all of these same verses so I can quickly find them in time of need of spiritual uplifting.

  31. after my first foray into taking notes in my Bible (the ESV journaling hardback), i discovered the importance of being able to erase old notes. let’s just say that there are some notes that turned out to be less than insightful on later inspection (usually of the “i wonder what this means!” variety). so these days, i use pencil for notes (usually an .03 mm mechanical, which gets the job done even in narrow margins), and an erasable highlighter for underlining.
    speaking of highlighters, i’ve been using a pilot frixion for a while now, and it works rather well. no bleed-through, nice and vivid like most liquid highlighters, but erasable as well. ink seems to run out pretty quickly, though. nevertheless, i’d highly recommend it: http://www.jetpens.com/index.php/cPath/47_682

  32. oh, and regarding the frixion highlighter mentioned above, i’ve only had experience with the yellow one. can’t vouch for the bleed-through characteristics of the darker ones…

  33. Why all the angst over using pen when you can use pencil? With a good no-mark eraser such as as Staedtler, you can repair, revise and retract both the intended and unintended markings. Unless you’re Picasso, your first draft is just that, a first draft.
    Additionally, lead both feels and looks good when written on quality paper, doesn’t bleed, and unless you are addicted to sharpening your pencil to a razor’s edge, it won’t break through.
    However, the best thing about pencil markings is that it doesn’t codify previous trains of thought. Sometimes an entire passage will be of interest to me; later, only certain verses or certain words within that section will draw my focus because I am mining that passage for different content. At first pass, I’ve underlined the entire passage. If I used a pen, it would be difficult to show the subsequent change in my focus from the passage to a verse or just a word. With a pencil, you can always erase!

  34. Todd – I like the idea. Except that in smaller bibles that I own only a mechanical pencil can write small enough for me (.07, .05)…but it leaves an indent/imprint on the opposite side… The only writing instrument that I have used that doesnt do this is the pigma micron pens.
    The problems with pens you mention is true. The only thing I can do to remedy it is to ask myself if what I am writing is really worth it (i.e. will I care in a year).

  35. When I used to do a lot of penciled notes, I would carry a sheet of plastic, such as would come on a comb-bound report cover, cut down to just the size of the paper. I’d put it right behind the sheet I was writing on, and the hardness, compared to paper, kept that indenting/imprinting to a minimum. Helps with pen too. When not using it, I’d just stick it in the back cover. You can cut a sheet for each Bible you’re likely to write in.

  36. Bill,
    I’ve been considering the plastic sheet option. From your experience, it seems to work; I’ll give it a try!

  37. I have found these see through sticky notes very useful. They can be purchased through Levenger. I use them to keep notes in my Bible without actually writing on the page and they can be moved or removed easily.
    I found the 3M colored flags helpful as well. I place the colored tab (flag) next to a verse to highlight it and if need be, I can write a reference or small note on the transparent section. Again, no marking the actual page, but it serves the purpose.
    I hope you find these as helpful as I do.

  38. I wanted to know if anybody have underlined their Allan Brevier Clarendon with the PIGMAs, pencils, or any other instrument of choice. I recently purchased one and probably won’t be using this Bible as much for study but thought I would ask how the paper (22 gsm, I hear) has fared with others who may be inclined to notate.

  39. I would just like to share that with the pigma micron pens, you can change the tips… so even tho dark blue only comes in 05.. you could switch the tip with a 005 tip from a light blue and write with it a bit and BOOM you have a dark blue 005 🙂

  40. I bought a pigma micron pen at a craft store and used it to underline in my Cambridge goatskin Concord KJV. It bleed through a little more than I would have liked; maybe because I underlined all of Romans 9! I then used a Zebra f-301 ballpoint pen, and it worked well with hardly any bleed through.

  41. I’m attempting to read the bible from cover to cover for a second time, this time with an NASB and the first time the NIV. I underlined passages in my New Scofield NIV, most of which have personal and instructional relevence so I can refer back to these passages and meditate upon their meaning later.
    Any way, here’s my method now – a pigma micron to underline with with a plastic 6″ ruler from christianbook.com. and I occasionally write a note in the margins
    I prefer the pigma microns to colored pecils and highlighters and ballpoint pens, but hey, whatever works for you.
    I think some bibles are, for reading as a beater (Bertrand’s phrase, not mine unfortunately) but my personal choice is not to mark up a very expensive and well crafted bible. Just like I wouldn’t highlight an old first edition.
    I once sold a goatskin NIV Celebration bible I had from Cambridge because it was, for me, a little too nice to read and mark up as a daily bible. What made it easier to part with was that the type size was getting a little small for my middle aged eyes.

  42. I really like writing in my Cambridge Concord. I paid 189$ for it, and write in it a lot, because I use it everyday. I have an ESV reformation study Bible, and also a Lutheran Study Bible form Concordia that I study from as well. When I go to Bible studies I like to take my Cambridge with me, so I felt the need to have certian texts underlined and refrences written down so I am prepared in the Bible study taken from my study of the Lutheran Study Bible. Also being a confessional Lutheran, it is great to have Luther’s smaller catechism written in the back of my Concord among other things. When I learned about the infamous Puritan James Davenport, who organized bonfires of the vanities, I just had to write about him in my Bible. It somehow feels good to write in an expensive well made Bible!

  43. great post… I have been to both blogs that you suggest up top and found them VERY helpful. I also liked the Micron Reference there it seems like a pretty good one. I have come across a pentel 8 color bible pencil that is kind of a one stop shop tool. helps with underlining and even highlighting because it acts as a dry bible highlighter. I am currently using a wide margin Hendrickson KJV for marking.

  44. Highlighting your Bible is becoming more and more popular. No one should feel hesitant about doing so. It really helps in understanding the Word and how to translate thoughts into our everyday actions. I am the product developer, designer, web designer, photographer and Facebook administrator for G.T. Luscombe Company. We distribute Bible Accessories and Inspirational Gift Items to the Christian Retail industry. We became well-known for Highlighters and Underliners that don’t bleed through thin Bible paper, namely, the ZeBrite double-ended wet and the Bible Dry (formerly Accent Dry) from Sanford. Rapidly becoming a favorite is the Pigma Microns from Sakura. We distribute all of these products and more to popular stores like Family Christian, Berean, Lifeway, and Books-a-Million. We also provide other study tools such as magnifiers, booklights, rulers, Bible maps/timelines and Indexing Tabs from Verse Finders. Go to http://www.gtluscombe.com and explore the many ways to mark and study the Bible.

  45. Colored pencils work best for me. Highlighter always seemed to bleed through and it ruined the one Bible I did that in so I stopped using them. I use a red colored pencil in all mine now and they work well. If I get around to ordering a really good Bible someday, like Allen’s I may not highlight at all. Right now I use several ESV Crossways in Trutone and one NASB in bonded leather. I currently live and do ministry in the Philippines and the weather/climate has “killed” the TruTones, both the paper and the covers, but the NASB has held up well. Returning to America in September and hope to get a “good” Bible that will last me the rest of my life!
    Great site, by the way.

  46. Michael, can you elaborate on your TruTone problems in heat and/or humidity? Do you have leather (real and/or bonded) bibles you can compare with that saw similar weather conditions?

  47. In my second year of Bible school, I bought a Cambridge wide margin and started taking notes in it. Cross-references, poems, points about the text, illustrations, everything. I also underline like crazy.
    I have tons of notebooks as well, but the problem is, I never look at them! There’s no way, when I’m reading my Bible, to search through all my notebooks about the text I’m reading.. With notes right there, I never forget something vie learned.
    My bible looks crazy. After taking carefully chosen notes for a while, I threw caution to the wind and just put down everything God showed me. I wish I did it earlier!
    I’ve now had this Bible for 10 years, and it has plenty of space for more notes. Some sections are getting a little tight, but I love having a Bible that is just jam-packed with notes.
    PS- the head Bible teacher at my old school has a Bible in three volumes. The OT has a blank note page between each page, and the NT has two blank pages between each page! Over 18,000 notes!

    • I have worried about writing in and marking my bible. Companions at bible study frown on it as a slight to God. My bible is a printed copy of an oft translated version. I feel God’s Blessing on my efforts to understand the messages in the book that support my belief that Jesus, Son of God, dying on the cross, took my sin and that I have the promise of redemption because He rose from death and is now with God until His return. My marks and notes enhance my understanding and remind me of passages that are important in my personal walk through life as a maturing believer. Pencil or pen a charcoal or blood? If the words speak to you highlight God’s message as important to you personally. May you grow in faith with the Holy Spirit as your guide.

  48. Bill,
    I just read your comment/question on my problems with TruTone. First off, I really like the TruTone mostly because of the softness of it and the flexibility it has over leather or bonded leather.
    The problems I and several other people over here have had with the climate effects of TruTone is that it appears to be drying up and flaking off, especially/mostly on the edges and spine of the cover. Every time I open up the Bible, pieces of the cover fall off in small flakes. The pages have slightly yellowed to an antique look, which I am not concerned with. I have several small and personal family bibles that had been in my father’s attic for decades and my TruTone Classic Thin Line of less than 2 years, is beginning to look like them!
    I also own a Crossway Reference Bible in black TruTone which I have kept at home except taking it to church. It has held up well, except I am now starting to notice the edges begin to flake off, as well.
    My Crossway Single Column Reference has held up well, but then again I only use it to preach from and it stays in the box at home, too.
    I will be leaving here at the end of September after four years and have just recently ordered and received an Allen ESV1 Reader in Dark Brown Highland Goat Skin. I was reluctant to ship it here, but I did not want to wait until I got home. I won’t be here much longer so it is not a problem as I keep it in the box and in air conditioning when I can.
    Wishing Allen printed a Thin Line! sigh!

  49. Thanks, RevMAA, for the update. You definitely seem to be seeing accelerated wear. Makes my complaint about TruTones “sticking together” when next to each other on a bookshelf seem inconsequential! Being a man-made product, I doubt the humidity is doing but it could be the heat. I think folks that have left TruTones in a hot car have seen ill effects as well. Do you have access to ArmorAll vinyl preservative over there? I’d sure give a couple treatments to your Classic Thinline and see if that reduces the flaking. If the color is fading as well, the first change you might notice is the color improving. Just spray it on and rub it in with your fingers until it seems to not be soaking in anymore. Then wipe excess with a clean cloth and slightly buff with a 2nd cloth. Anyway it can’t hurt (if you keep it off the pages) and might help. If so, apply it to all your TruTones. Good luck. And enjoy the goatskin Reader!

  50. Would like to invite readers to view and post comments on the Highlighted New Testament Bible. It can be viewed at http://thehighlightedbible.blogspot.com. This product is a new type of highlighted Bible different from anything found on the market today. It was created with different font styles, different colors, different text types, i.e., bold, underlined, standard, large, and italicized text. It was created to make reading the Bible easier, placing emphasis on key words and phrases, increasing understanding, in an effort to create variety in the text itself. It has the full New Testament text, 690 pages, with footnotes. Sample views of the Book of St James are available at http://www.YUDU.com, under the search title of: The Highlighted New Testament Bible.
    Many people mark in their Bibles highlighting and underlining key passages and phrases. This Bible does that for them. In creating this work, I did the same thing as others did in underlining and highlighting passages in my Bible. After almost two years of studying the Bible the spirit moved me to publish this work that it may be of help to others, especially new believers just starting to read the Bible, and even long time believers searching for a deeper meaning of God’s word. It has been my joy and anointing in the Word that has led me to publish this work. It is my desire to help others to know and to receive this same anointing and joy that I discovered. It is here in these pages. May the Light that came down from Heaven shine in your heart and the Advocate guide you in your daily life. May those who read this work give the glory to God.

  51. Has anyone seen the Highlighted New Testament Bible? Check it out. It has all of the passages highlighted and underlined and bold text and large text. See it at http://thehighlightedbible.blogspot.com. You can also find sample pages at http://www.YUDU.com under the same name. Read the preface and you will find that the Highlighted Bible is a solution to highlighting in the bible.

  52. I just found a new fine point to underline my Bible with. The Sharpie Pen in Fine. So far I have used it in red and black with no bleed through. I too have messed up a few nice bibles with bad highlighters and numerous ballpoints. Thanks for the tips and info on the Zebras. In my work I use Zebra pens all the time because they are tough and last forever. so I will look for the Zebrites and try them out.

  53. It’s funny, but I started to take notes in my Cambridge Concord goatskin KJV, not wide margign, and now that it is quite full, I think I will purchase a wide margign cambridge KJV and tranfer the notes. For a while I felt like I ruined the bible by writing in it, but then I realized that I actually used my notes that I had written in it. I am comtemplating buying a wide margign, but dont know if that is being a wise stewart of my money since I already have a goatskin Cambridge. What say you?

  54. Nathan, if you are going to use it and write in it as much as you did in your concord, I wouldn’t fault you for buying it. It actually sounds like you need one since writing in your bible helps you study it.

  55. I go through my bible and highlight my favorite verse in one color (blue) and I highlight God’s promises in yellow and his commands in pink. I also have started highlighting verses that talk about God’s attributes in green. This has helped me tremendously because I am such a visual person. The purpose of a bible is to use it! Dont worry about “messing it up” just write down the things you feel God is saying to you or notes from sermons that have touched your heart etc. The notes in my bible have made it even more valuable to me than it was before I started to write in it. (I did not write in my bible at all after I first got it) If you are that worried about writing in it, get a cheap bible with wide margins that you can use to write in.

  56. I’ve been using the Shapie GEL highlighter. Works very well with no bleed through at all.

  57. I wrote some notes in my Allan Longprimer, along with many in the rules paper in the back. I really am happy with the notes I wrote, but for some reason I feel like I have ruined the Bible! I think it is becasue it is such a highend Bible that I have those feelings. This may seem silly, but how does one oversome this feeling of desecration?!? Thanks, and yes I am serious.

  58. Terse, would you feel you desecrated something if you wrote the same notes in a newsprint paperback giveaway bible? If so, I announce the forgiveness of sins to you and urge you to write your future notes in a separate notebook. If not, then it’s not the TEXT that you feel you’re desecrating but the VALUE of the paper, ink, and binding, or in other words, money. You can only desecrate money if you hold it sacred, which you shouldn’t. Instead, just regard money as this cool stuff God gives you to make your family, your friends, and yourself happy. So go get a $20 bill, write “God loves you” on it (deliciously savoring the “desecration” of that bill as you do it) and then take your family or friends out for ice cream with it. See, it spends just as well with the writing on it. Hope this helps.

  59. I went and bought some Pigma Microns today after reading this article. I waiting on my Allan NASB to get here so I can try them out!

  60. I use colored pencils and although I do highlight, I find drawing a circle around the verse number and then coloring it in with my colored pencil, an easy and effective way to make a verse/verses to stand out. It is very hard to write in your Bible with a mechanical pencil, or near impossible. Use a regular pencil and don’t make it too sharp, and do not write too hard..(if perhaps you want to erase later). Also, a small bendable ruler is great for underlining or highlighting your Bible, it will be able to mold to the shape of your pages. Last thing, although I think a clean, brand new Bible with no markings is a neat thing for a season, (think new car smell)..a Bible with notes, highlights, underlined passages, etc., simply has more character, and a great way to prove you actually read your Bible. Ha ha. Just a litte humor sorry. God bless you all.

  61. I love highlighting, underlining, and making notes in my bible. I am in Ezekiel right now… making my way through the entire bible from cover to cover… once again. This time I started with a fresh new ESV Legacy in brown top grain leather. What a beautiful bible. It is perfect for taking notes in that it has a great wide outer margin beside the single column text. I use a colour coded system for highlighting verses and underlining words and phrases. I use a 0.9 mm mechanical pencil for making notes in the margin. I find that the thicker pencil doesn’t indent the pages like a sharper one does.
    I once saw an old Scofeild bible from the 50’s that had notes throughout in pencil and they were all still very legible. That’s why I feel comfortable taking notes in pencil. I write very small and haven’t had any problems.

  62. I am looking for an opinion. A friend of mine gave me an Allan Longprimer highland goatskin Bible. It is very nice, but it is filled with hand written notes in pen many of which are the antithesis of what I believe. There are notes in the margins, but hardly any underlining and no highlighting. Do you think I should use it and just ignore the notes, or shelve it? It was a gift and I do not want to be ungrateful. The notes are written neatly for the most part. Any thoughts?

    • Use it and ignore the notes–it sounds like a fantastic gift. Be grateful the text isn’t all underlined and highlighted. With time, you can add “but…” rebuttal notes to what’s there. Sometimes the best way to learn good theology is to be shown bad theology and have to refute it.

  63. I used to use a four color Bic, but here’s what I found: marks I made, particularly with the red pen, would bleed and smear; it took a few years for it to happen, but it would bleed through the paper and would smear on the original page. So, I’ve switched to the Sakura Pigma Micron Pens. I like the archival ink; never worry about bleed through or smear. I also like the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils for highlighting. I find that their Spanish Orange is best. Prismacolor also makes pens that are similar to the Microns—I have one that is Sepia and it’s nice for subtle notes in the margins. I wrote a blog on this topic: http://denster57.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/on-bibles-and-markings/ if you’re interested.

  64. What brand/type of pens are the best to use in a Allan NKJV Classic Reference Edition [Highland Goatskin]?

  65. I’ve been wanting to mark up my Bible as well, I bought a ESV Clarion reference Bible by Cambridge about 6 months ago. I have been worried about the paper because its so thin and have tried a couple tests in the concordance. It does not bleed through but you can see it on the opposite page. Has anyone here marked a similar Bible as this?


  66. Hello!

    I actually use two different Bibles for study. I have a nice study Bible that stays unmarked and purchased a cheaper Bible for around $10 dollars that I use for highlighting, marking and making notes. This way I don’t mess up my expensive study bible, but can still mark, highlight and make notes that are important to me.

    Just an idea!



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