Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Bible Marking System

I will just tell you right off the bat that I am big on organization. Now, what does that have to do with highlighting in your Bible? Well, if you use any color to highlight any verse here there and everywhere with no logic behind it, or if you underline verses here there and everywhere that have to do with this that and the other, then you will have a very written-in Bible, but it won't serve you as well as it could. So, what I'd like to suggest is that the next time you get a new Bible, it's a great time to re-think your Bible Marking System! If you were to mark certain themes in a certain way or color, it makes it easier to find verses you've marked, and helps you to glance at a the page and know what themes are talked about. You'll see what I mean in a minute... let's just dive in.

First off, ditch the highlighters! They are unstable ink (they'll bleed through the page or mess up over the years). Second, get yourself some colored pencils for underlining. I've tried various bible markers, including the chalky type special Bible highlighters and other stuff that's geared specially for Bible marking, but colored pencils are the way to go. If you get a good little set, you'll have a variety of different colors that you can use for various different subjects, and since they're pencils, you can erase the occasional line that goes askew. Or the one that your one-and-a-half-year-old drew after watching Mommy do it.

Second, sit down and brainstorm what all categories you'd like to have a color for. Once you have an idea how many categories you'll have, then you can choose your pencil set based on that number. It's nice to have a set with a couple extra colors in case you think of a category later that you want to add.

Third, assign each category to a color that makes sense to you. (I like to use red for love, pink for women, etc. because it's easy for me to remember that way) If your pencils come in a case or box, it's nice to write out a little key for the colors, and tape it to the case. You can also write the theme or category names on the individual pencils. I'll share what works for me & what pencils I like... 


I use Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils to underline passages. It's a set of soft, triangular-shaped pencils that come in a handy hard-plastic box for storage. This protects the tips from getting broken off, and makes them easy to store in the pocket of a Bible cover. They even have a spot at the end of each pencil for you to write your name, which is a perfect place to write in the bible theme or category you use that color to underline. (Use your pigma bible pen to write it smudge-free!) 

I used to use the smaller set in my old Bible, which was the first time I used colored pencils for marking. When I recently got my new Bible, I decided to switch to using the larger set of pencils, which gives me more colors, allowing for more categories. 

Here is my set, labeled... 
(first pic is the box closed, second is opened) 

My Color Key:
  • Red: Love, Marriage 
  • Pink: Woman/ Wife/ Mother 
  • Brown: Man/ Husband/ Father 
  • Orange: Praise 
  • Gold: Wisdom 
  • Bronzish Brown: Science/ Evidence 
  • Skin Color Peach: Character 
  • Bright Yellow: Strength/ Encouragement 
  • Light Yellow: Contemplation verses 
  • Grass Green: Authority 
  • Army Green: Doctrinal Defense 
  • Light Green: New Testament Church & Worship 
  • Royal Blue: Salvation/ Justification 
  • Sky Blue: Heaven 
  • Turquoise: Earth/ Creation 
  • Blueish Purple: Judgement 
  • Royal Purple: Deity/ God 
  • Purplish Pink: Christian Living 
  • Black: Devil & Hell 
  • Gray: Sin 


Explanation of my Themes:
This section explains what the themes mean if they need further explanation than their name. It also tells why I chose these colors & how I remember them. Of course I have it written on the pencils and the box as well, but anyway... here you go... 
  • Love, Marriage Red is easy to associate with Love & Marriage. 
  • Woman/ Wife/ Mother: Same reasoning for the pink. 
  • Man/ Husband/ Father: Brown is what I had left over, and it works for men's verses.
  • Praise: Praise is exuberant, and joyful... and so is orange. 
  • Wisdom: "How much better is it to get wisdom than gold!" Prov. 16:16. 
  • Science/ Evidence: This includes anything used in evidences studies, like evidence for the Bible's validity, or scientific references that would have been unknown at the time of writing. E.g. reference to the sphere of the earth when everyone thought the world was flat, reference to the rain cycle which wasn't "discovered" yet, reference to the paths of the sea, etc. 
  • Character: This is used to note various traits of a particular person, like when you're doing a Character study. E.g. the patience of Job, the humility of Noah, the dignity and forgiveness of Joseph, etc. I used the skin color because it's in reference to a particular person. 
  • Strength / Encouragement : These things should cheer you up, so they are yellow. 
  • Contemplation Verses: The contemplation verses are similar to the strength/ encouragement, so they are yellow also. They are things to think about... like Mordecai's question to Esther, "who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?" They also include statements or thoughts like "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction." Prov. 1:7 or "All that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun." Ecc. 1:9. You get the idea. It's verses you ponder over. 
  • Authority: This has anything to do with the authority of God over His creation, Jesus over His followers, and the Bible as the final say in our lives. It includes warnings against adding to/ subtracting from/ changing what God's said, and warnings against false teachers, etc. It also is used in references to people's "think so's" compared to God's "say so's". 
  • Doctrinal Defense: This is tied closely to authority, so is also green. It is for passages commonly used for defending Bible doctrine over controversial issues, like faith vs. works, defending the literalness of Christ's resurrection, etc. 
  • New Testament Church & Worship: This is also related to authority, so it is also green. It includes examples of the N.T. church & commands for things in reference to the church for how it operates, it's organization, membership, work, and worship. It includes references to the communion, prayer, giving, teaching, and singing, as these are all a part of worship. 
  • Salvation/ Justification: This includes anything in reference to how one is saved or justified. It includes references to faith, repentance, confession, baptism, salvation, and remaining faithful. Since salvation is what allows us to go to heaven, it is blue. 
  • Heaven: Although heaven is not in the "sky", sky blue is easy for me to associate with heaven. 
  • Earth/ Creation: Turquoise is an earthy color, like the sea (blue) + the land (green). This theme includes verses that speak of the beauty of God's creation. 
  • Judgement: Judgement is by God (purple) and determines if we go to heaven (blue), so it is blueish purple. 
  • Deity/ God: Purple was the color royalty wore, and Christ is our King. 
  • Christian Living: We try to live holy like God (purple) and I am a girl (pink) so my Christian living theme is pinkish purple :) Obviously if you're a guy, you may choose this differently. This theme relates to any of the various aspects that are a part of a Christian's life.  
  • Devil & Hell: Black and evil are an easy association.  
  • Sin: Sin is ugly, and so is gray. This includes any references to works of the flesh, or things that separate us from God. 
  • My pencil set also includes another blue, red, and green that are too similar to the other blues, reds, and greens to really be differentiated so I probably won't be using them. Unless of course I think of another theme I want to include, then I'll choose one of them to assign to it. 
Here's a section in my bible with several colors underlined... 
You'll notice that the underlining doesn't look as bold as highlighting, which in my opinion makes it less distracting if you're trying to read through a whole passage. But, the colors are distinct enough to tell the difference between yellow, green, and purplish. 

Anyway, that is my system in a nutshell. Hopefully it is helpful in helping you to start thinking about yours. Another post of interest to you may be The Best Bible Pen. Also, if you're thinking of getting a new Bible, be sure to check my Christian Resources page for a helpful guide to choosing your next Bible.


  1. Thank You, been looking something like this. I like the way you choose a color for each theme.

  2. You're welcome, I hope you find it helpful in your bible study.

  3. Thank you. this is a very comprehensive list, Well thought out and very helpful.