Saturday, August 27, 2011

16 ways to mark your scriptures

I love marking my scriptures. There are so many ways to do it. I even discovered a few new methods in writing this post!

1. Highlighting. Solid highlighting is best for VERY IMPORTANT verses.

2. Underline. This is good for words and phrases you want to remember or find quickly. Underline by “shock value” (according to the significance, relevance, or impact the words have on you) or by key phrases. If it is done sparingly, it is very effective [1]. If done too much, it can become confusing and it can make it difficult to add additional markings in a visible way. (When everything is underlined, it doesn’t say that everything is important, it says that nothing is important.)

3. Boxing. When you find a series of verses that are meaningful and go together, draw a colored box around the text with colored pencils or highlighters. Boxing makes it so that the verses stand out, but you still can use more colors to mark important words and phrases inside the box.

4. Corner brackets. Corner brackets are shaped like an 'L,' only upside down and backwards. One goes around the top of the beginning of the text, and another one goes at the ending of the text. They have the same function as drawing a box around verses, but it is even less obtrusive. This is good for indicating the beginning of a speech and allows you to box verses inside it.

5. Circling. This is good for marking the superscripts for extra good footnotes I also like to circle all footnote superscripts in the text that lead me to the Joseph Smith Translation.

6. Symbols. Inserting symbols can help you distinguish between different types of messages from God. Prophecies could be a hollow star, and fulfilled prophecies could be a solid star [1]. If you need ideas for symbols to use, look at a word processer’s list of Wingding symbols and print off a list of ones you associate with different gospel topics. Keep your list in your scriptures and use those symbols in your margins [2].

7. Arrows. These are good for connecting multiple ideas together that are separated on the same page or page spread. They are good for connecting questions to their answers, causes to effects, and commandments to blessings.

8. Numbers. These are good for keeping track of list items. Anytime you find a list is a candidate for numbering. This helps you see at a glance how big the list is and helps in preliminary study of the list.

9. Marginal notes. Good for very short thoughts and observations. (Longer thoughts should go into a scripture journal. When enough margin notes have accumulated on a particular scripture block, it is time to bring them all together into a scripture journal entry.)

10. Color code. You can color code in a number of different ways: by speaker (like a red-letter Bible), by subject [3], or simply for idea contrast. Make sure that the colors make sense to you. You can make your color coding the same across your whole scriptures, or you can change your code page by page.
  • Advantages of marking by subject – If someone asks you to justify a practice, such as baptism and you happen to have marked all the scriptures about baptism in orange, all you have to do is search for the orange marked sections in the scriptures [1].
  • Advantages of marking by speaker – This is a very visual way of following conversations between people. It also helps you easily distinguish between talk and action in a story so that you can see how consequences worked out for each speaker.
  • Advantages of marking by contrast--You don’t have to remember a color code scheme or refrain from marking something because it doesn’t fit in the color code scheme. The colors just help you notice different ideas and patterns in a scripture block. Some contrasts to mark are between leaders and followers, between warnings and blessings, between good and evil, etc. In JST Matthew 24, I found it helpful to use one color to mark the scary things that would happen and use a different color to mark specific instructions of what to do. Seeing what to do when reading that chapter helps me not get scared by the scary stuff.
11. Insert sticky notes. Sticky notes make it so that you can make more notes than you could just using the margins. They can be applied, moved, layered, and removed whenever you want. (Heck, you could even color code them if you wanted to..)

12. Add small pictures of the stories. This makes the scriptures come alive so that the stories seem more real [4]. You can glue them to a sticky note that you put in or you can glue one side of the picture directly into the margin.

13. Draw pictures of what’s happening with colored pencils in your scriptures. I once drew a picture of a tower in the text where King Benjamin was giving his speech. The possibilities are endless. Liahona. Boat. Temple. Sword.

14. Add stickers. This is a variation on 'use symbols' that adds a little visual fun. Use small ones that will fit in your margins. (This can be difficult if your margins already have notes in them.) Kids will like this.

15. If you don’t like marking your scriptures, get one copy that stays clean and another copy to mark up. That way you get the analytical benefit of marking, while still retaining the option of reading a clean set. [3]

16. Get a Book of Mormon copied onto 8 X 11.5 paper and spiral-bound so you have lots of margin area to write. I once saw someone's Book of Mormon that they had this done to and I was so jealous. I'm told it can be done at Kinkos or one of those other print places.

Idea: When you have completely marked up a set of scriptures and you have to get a new set, give your old set away [5]. Or strategically leave it somewhere. Someone will find it and may have their interest in the scriptures jumpstarted by all the markings and notes you’ve made.

Some marking systems can be incredibly elaborate. (See Scriptorian’s Scripture Marking System. This one boggles my mind!)

As a bonus for this post, here's an analysis of four types of utinsels for marking scriptures:

1. Highlighters. Bright and colorful, easy to use. Some people don’t like them because they bleed through the paper, but I’ve never had a problem with that. Sometimes they can leak or take a while to dry though.

2. Pens. Pens are good for making all kinds of markings and notes in the margin that won’t fade. Some say they bleed through over time. My experience is that it takes a very long time, and for making notes, I think they are the best option because of the fine resolution that is possible with a small tip.

3. Gel writers. Gel writers don’t bleed through the paper, but they take a while to dry. I find they are good for making all kinds of line-based markings except for margin notes. (For margin notes I want something with a finer point than gel writers can give me.)

4. Colored pencils. I find these are good if you get annoyed with highlighters. (Also see the 8-color Pentel scripture marker pencil. I just got one this month and it is TOTALLY AWESOME! I’m having so much fun with it!)

Anything to add?


1 “How can you MARK your Bible for EFFECTIVE Bible Studies?”,

2 “Inductive Bible Study: Observation”,

3 “Tips on Marking Scriptures”,,

4 “LDS Scripture Study Techniques”,

5 Sid Williams, commenter #25 on “How I Mark My Bible”,

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to any brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Curls said...

What a fabulous list. I wish I had done more boxing with highlighting/underlining inside the boxing with my new set. *sigh* guess I'll just have to get another one at some point.

My first set was from I was a kid and it had been underlined and written in to the point where I could hardly read the text anymore. Definitely trying to be a bit smarter about it with my new set.

Personally I dislike highlighters, but I love colored pencils. I love the symbols idea, as well as marking by contrast and by speaker.

And I love the BIG Book of Mormon idea! I'm feeling excited to dive in even deeper.

Thanks for the post, it was fabulous!

Becky Rose said...

I put a big M on the verses where there is a miracle, a PF for prophecy fulfilled. When it's speaking of the Godhead and mentions 2 or 3 of them, I put that number in the margin- a clear indication of the separateness of them. I box in the most important verses in a chapter.
I pick a few different items to study each time and pick a color that matches.

Becky Rose said...

oh- primsma colors- that you find at art stores- even Michaels are GREAT- keep there color and are erasable!

Lily Whitfield said...

Wow!! I love this...what a lot of ideas! Not long ago I posted on my blog re marking my scriptures because I was very excited to have an idea on how to use color. And, like you I've discovered ways to use more color...however- Your post is a keeper...I'll be able to add more in depth with some of your ideas like boxing and corner brackets. Especially,I favor your idea of giving the old set away...

Annie said...

I simply use the crayola twistable colored pencils because there's lots of colors to color code with and they are easy to store and use. And they don't bleed or smear.

Michaela Stephens said...

Thanks for all those ideas, ladies!