How I Mark in My Bible

Scripture Zealot says if you want to be cool this week you have to write about how you write or mark in your Bibles/books, so it must be true.

He also got me thinking about my own system, or lack thereof, of Bible note taking.

It’s the same method I have employed for everything else: college, law school, work, etc. Actually, I’m not entirely sure now how I ever got out of school. I have no real system. I have come to the conclusion that my method is not only unsystematic, it is probably counter-productive in the extreme.

But, I have managed to get by using it, and I would be miserable employing anything that would require memorization, systemization, or colorization.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have tried using other systems. I’ve tried highlighters, color coded pens, symbols (§»¤×↔♣), you name it. I just can’t seem to remember what the green highlights mean, or the [pink brackets], or the orange ♦’s. I can’t even see the yellow markings.

And I certainly don’t mean to suggest you shouldn’t employ whatever method works for you. In fact, if any of you have any suggestions for me that are relatively quick and painless to try, I am ready, willing, and, to a lesser extent, able.

Sample from Romans

So, what do I do? I underline in blue ink – sometimes red if that’s all that’s handy.

I like using gel ink pens too, so that means I have to blow and blow after every mark so the ink will dry. I made the mistake of using a fountain pen once (no, come to think of it, twice), and I don’t recommend it. But, ballpoint pens don’t really do it for me.

If a passage really grips me or is particularly meaningful, I will put a star out beside it (well, not really a “star,” more of an asterisk I guess *). If I am having difficult with a passage or I have particular questions about it, I will put a question mark (?) out beside it. And, on rare occasions, if I find a connection or cross-reference I think is important and the editors didn’t find or see fit to print it, I might write the cross-referenced verse in the margin (e.g., see Gen. 1:1). And, rarer still, I might write something profound like, “WOW!” I came across that one today scanning my Bible for markings to share. I wonder what wowed me?

And it doesn’t really matter which Bible I’m using. I have several different sizes, styles, translations, all of which seem to get marked the same. This, of course, creates a problem of its own: I forget which marks are in which Bibles. On the other hand, it’s like I’m reading the Word fresh every time, “Hum, I wonder what I was thinking about when I made that mark?”

Oh, and by the way, my system is not trademarked or patented, so please feel free to use, abuse and/or lose it.

My King James Bible

Sample from Mark

If you’re curious how others mark up their Bibles/books, check out these posts:


  1. #1 by Scripture Zealot on January 16, 2009 - 7:01 pm

    I’m going to have bad dreams.

    Being a detail oriented, organized perfectionist–a blessing… and a curse.

  2. #2 by Caribbean Shulamite on January 16, 2009 - 10:00 pm

    We do just about the exact same things. The only differences are that from time to time I do use a yellow highlighter just to block larger passages that really gripped me, and I don’t usually use pen ink (only pencil), unless it’s really nicely coloured (no blue or black)!

  3. #3 by Mike Aubrey on January 17, 2009 - 1:16 am

    ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ – Writing in Books – Call me Mike.

  4. #4 by petermlopez on January 17, 2009 - 7:06 pm

    Jeff not being a detailed person is also a blessing and a curse. Sweet dreams.

    CS no highlighters for me, for some reason they just bug me, and how can you even see pencil on Bible pages?

    Mike, thanks, Mike. I will.

  5. #5 by DD on January 17, 2009 - 10:28 pm

    I understand how too much highlighting might be annoying but I don’t use that much. I Some highlighters will seep through to the other side of the page and too much is completely self-defeating.
    As for pencils, I use the nice ones with softer & darker lead points. Not too pointy or thin either, as that tends to scratch more delicate pages. It’s something of a science but I have it worked out :)

  6. #6 by lance gargus on January 18, 2009 - 8:55 pm

    My dad was a preacher and he had the habit of writing all in his bible. He undermined everything. Sorry I havent visited in awhile.
    God bless,

    • #7 by petermlopez on January 20, 2009 - 12:38 pm

      Thanks, lance. I appreciate your return. I write in all my Bibles too. I just can’t help myself.

  7. #8 by livingjourney on January 19, 2009 - 6:14 am

    I mark my bible much the same as you Peter. I don’t write WOW — I love that, I think I may adopt that! — But I write ‘VIP’ next to verses that I think are VIP!

    I also write ‘?’ next to things that have puzzled me.

    I remember a few years ago I found a highlighter that was like a pink crayon…and It had a very fine pencil on the other end. It was a brilliant marker, but I have looked everywhere and I cannot find another one like it!

    I have bought a couple of new bibles recently, and I haven’t started marking them yet. I am sure I will in time, in fact I need to. I have a tendency to go back to the bible that I have marked, I can find things quick in that bible!


  8. #9 by mom2olivia on January 19, 2009 - 1:23 pm

    I do mark my bible, but like you, forget when and where sometimes. I’ve been using Notecards to help remember verses that are speaking to me at the moement. I can throw em in my pocket when I head out the door, and then meditate on them throughout the day.

  9. #10 by petermlopez on January 20, 2009 - 12:41 pm

    DD, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I have a hard time with pencils, but maybe I just haven’t found the right one.

  10. #11 by petermlopez on January 20, 2009 - 12:44 pm

    Vee, are you talking about dry highlighters? I have heard of them, but I have never actually used one. Some people swear by them. I have a Bible that I’ve read and marked so much that I can find anything, but I haven’t quite got there with my other Bibles yet either. Some day perhaps.

    m2o, my wife uses notecards and posts them all over the house. She loves them and they work well for her. Notecards don’t really work for me as well, they do for her.

  11. #12 by Scripture Zealot on January 20, 2009 - 4:12 pm

    I use wax highlighters in my Bible. They’re very old so maybe those dry highlighters are some newfangled thing. Christian book stores (if you dare venture into one) have highlighters for Bibles in any case.

  12. #13 by petermlopez on January 20, 2009 - 4:36 pm

    I actually do go into Christian bookstores rather frequently, but I rarely make it out of the Bible/Bible study section. I’m guessing the dry highlighters are probably the same kind of thing. I honestly have no idea, but they sound similar. The next time I’m in one I will buy one just to try it out. Maybe Vee can find them down under.

  13. #14 by livingjourney on January 20, 2009 - 6:18 pm

    Where I purchased my highlighter from was the biggest Christian book store near where I live. I have gone in there several times to see if they have any more of these highlighters over the last few years, but to no avail!

  14. #15 by petermlopez on January 21, 2009 - 3:59 pm

    Try ebay, you can find anything there.

  15. #16 by hiscrivener on January 21, 2009 - 11:40 pm


    I have another award for you seeing your massive case of OCD on Bible scribble – the Anal Retentivity Award. You deserve it, brother. :)

    Actually, it’s nice. When I was in seminary, I had a pastor tell me, “Take notes like it’s part of a message.” Since that day, it’s red ink for the message and a yellow highlighter for the verses. It’s always helped me, and not too mention, it’s always feng shui with color coding and monochromatic messaging.

    Good times, indeed.


  16. #17 by petermlopez on January 22, 2009 - 12:42 pm

    Oh, I’m not the OCD, I rarely take notes and all I do is underline. No color coding here, although I have tried. I think you misunderstood what I was saying. Ask Jeff, I gave him nightmares because of how disorganized my system was.

  17. #18 by Scripture Zealot on January 22, 2009 - 7:40 pm

    I think I heard my name.

    You could ask my wife about this stuff. She’d tell you about it after she gets done laughing (lovingly) and rolling her eyes.

    • #19 by petermlopez on January 23, 2009 - 11:02 am

      Any funny stories she would be willing to share would be great. Should she start her own blog?

  18. #20 by Scripture Zealot on January 23, 2009 - 11:01 pm

    Sorry, she’s not into blogging. That’s my excuse anyway. But it’s true.

    • #21 by petermlopez on January 26, 2009 - 12:21 pm

      Neither is my wife…perhaps they should get together and swap stories.

  19. #22 by Stan Hankins on April 11, 2009 - 6:19 am

    I do the exact same things. If a passage encourages or corrects me, I underline it. If it is a great passage I put a star out beside it or use parenthesise. Only rarely do I highlight because I have had problems with bleedthrough.
    Thanks for the post! Grace and peace!

    • #23 by petermlopez on April 15, 2009 - 3:27 pm

      Great minds think alike…

  20. #24 by Lloyd Cary on June 29, 2010 - 8:08 am


    There is an EXCELLENT chapter on HOW TO MARK YOUR BIBLE in a FREE 40-page booklet called, “How to Study Your Bible.” It is very detailed showing how, why, and what to mark, including a Topical Colour Guide with mnemonic helps. Other chapters include; Why Study the Bible?, Can We Study the Bible for Ourselves? and ten points on How to Study Your Bible for All Its Worth. Part 2 shows How to Avoid Common Mistakes, and even includes a Daily Bible Reading Schedule that you can begin on ANY day of the year!

    You can get a FREE copy by requesting it at or by phone at (903) 939-2929.

    I just though I’d pass that on to you for what it’s worth.

    Lloyd Cary


  21. #25 by Sid Williams on January 4, 2011 - 8:22 pm

    You fellows are all “introverts” — meaning learners,
    I am an “extrovert” — meaning sharing.
    You can become an “extrovert” following these rules.
    1. Buy only Interlinear Bibles.
    2. Choose the Bible with the most “white” paper for notes.
    3. Begin at the beginning.
    4. Letter all names of the Gods, A, B, C, D, E.
    5. In the margin identify the real name of God; for instance MYHLA = [plural] Gods – Gen 1.1 and 2,492 Xs..
    LA = [single] God. 395 Xs.
    6. HLA = God of Her (H), or Goddess. 92 Xs.
    7. HWHY = He Is. Relating to HYHA = I Am.. 6,735 Xs.
    When you get done — give it away!

    1. Iesous = Iesous 977 Xs..
    2. Christos = Anointed.490 Xs.
    3. “brimstone” = holy God.18 Xs.
    4. “Deity” = holy God.
    5. “baptism” = dipping.113 Xs.
    6. “inherit the earth” – Mt 5.5 = inherit name (ONOM) of earth.
    7. “mansions” = “alone.”
    8. “barbarian” = “son of burden”
    9. “Peter” = “Rock.”
    10. “Cephas” = “Rock.”
    11. “Christ Jesus” (53 Xs) = in anointed [Body] of Iesous.”
    This is from the deep Dark Ages and is in all translations including NLT & ESV.
    When you get done — give it away.

  1. 16 Ways to Mark Your Scriptures | your LDS blog

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