I used to think it showed God disrespect to mark in your Bible, so I didn’t. But years later my understanding changed. God’s words, His divinely inspired message is perfect and holy but the ink and paper on which it’s printed is not. I also heard many godly men and women who marked all over their Bibles. 

Henry Blackaby, pastor and author of Experiencing God, always marked in his Bible. He highlighted, marked, and write all over it. I heard him talk about it one time. When he filled one, he started over with a new Bible. He planned to keep them to pass to his grandchildren.

Writing in your Bible is not new or trendy. Dwight L Moody, the 19th century evangelist and author, wrote in his Bible and encouraged others to do it too. In his book “How to Study the Bible,” Moody wrote “Mark your Bible, and instead of it being dry and uninteresting, it will become a beautiful book to you.”

I was convinced, I just didn’t know how to start.

Then I begin to do Inductive Bible Study. The first step – observation – is all about digging into the passage and asking it questions to see what is there. Observation seeks to determine what the passage says. We must know what it says before we can know what it means. In this first step, we need to record our observations. Although there are different ways to do this, I love to do it right in my Bible. (See also “What is Inductive Bible Study?” and 10 Observation Tips for Better Bible Study.“)

What about you? Do you mark in your Bible?  If not, consider the following reasons to start.

3 Reasons to Mark in Your Bible

  1. Makes it come alive – When I mark and write in my Bible I feel as though I am physically interacting with it. I touch it, feel it, take it in. Simply reading is far more passive. When I mark in my Bible it is much harder to walk away from the truths I discover. They scream to be applied.
  2. Implants the passage in our hearts and minds – Marking, highlighting, and writing helps us remember what we read. When we engage more senses and activity in our study time, our learning and memory skyrocket
  3. Increases our understanding – The marking process helps us observe the text. And when we observe we actually begin to “see what it says.” That’s the first step in solid Bible study.

6 Ways to do it

Exactly how you choose to write in your Bible is a matter of preference. The goal is to do it in a way that most benefits your study, understanding, and application of God’s Word. Everyone learns differently. You may want to try a few different ways to see what best fits you.

  1. Color-coding or highlighting – Some people use colored pencils or different colored pens to mark or write. I use 6 different colored highlighters. For instance, I use orange to highlight key words and yellow for facts. When I look back at a page these things pop out at me. (See also “Look for Key Words When You Study the Bible” and “Bible Highlighting for More Effective Bible Study.”)
  2. Symbols – Kay Arthur teaches an expanded system of symbols for marking a passage. Although it works for many people, I tried this for one study and found it too tedious. However, I do use at least one basic symbol to make certain things stand out. For instance, I put a box around connecting words like “but,” “therefore,” “so,” and other words that show connection between two parts of a passage. 
  3. Emphasis Marks – This may include using asterisks, arrows, underlining or something similar to draw your eye to particular element of the text. For instance, Dwight Moody used his pen to go over key words to make them boldly stand out from the rest. I sometimes use an asterisk next to key spiritual principles in the text.
  4. Numbering – You can add small numbers next to words or phrases in the text to keep up with multiples of things. It could be repeated key words, promises, characteristics, or anything that you could make a list out of. 
  5. Lines – I often draw thin lines to make connections from one part of a passage to another. Particularly if a topic in that days passage directly relates to something I read the day before. (Of course this only works if these two sections are on the same page!)
  6. Writing – I love my wide-margin journaling Bible. Because it provides extra space for writing. I use the margin to record my observations and note things like cross-references or definitions for original language. Others write things like points from sermons they heard on the passage or how God used the passage for personal application. (See also “Bible Journaling can Enhance Your Bible Study.“)

What about you? If you write in your Bible already, I’d love to hear how you do it. If you don’t yet write in your Bible, I’d love to hear why or if this post has changed your mind! Leave your thoughts in the comment section of the blog page.

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