New Bible Marking Method

I just ordered a new Bible. Every time I change Bibles I modify my marking system, getting more detailed and more useful every time. The Bible I just bought is a single column, 2.5 inch wide margin, so a new marking method is in order.

Using my old system I simply colored the whole verse a single color (the color of that particular topic). The more I studied it became obvious that I needed to highlight specific phrases within each verse because many verses contained more than one topic. That was in my Dugan Topical Study Bible.

For my current system I went from the Dugan (one of my favorite Bibles of all time) to a Thompson Chain Reference (another of my favorite study Bibles). I then modified my system by only highlighting the phrases according to their specific topics. That’s worked for me for 15 years. Now I want to add some topics. The problem is I’ve already highlighted those verses because I highlighted the complete phrase, even though it could have been broken down a little more. For example, in Genesis 1:1 I highlighted “God created” in yellow (my Godhead color). Now I want to highlight Creation as a separate topic. That by itself really not enough reason to buy a new Bible, but since I want to do more than just highlight (I want to add LOTS of notes that I can’t add without a wide margin), a new Bible is required. Since I’m getting a new Bible anyway…

Enter the Note Taker’s Wide Margin Bible from Local Church Bible Publishers. I will write a separate review of this Bible, but I got it because it has a single column of text and has a 2.5 inch margin on the outside column- plenty enough room to do what I want. It comes in calfskin leather (it’s a premium-quality Bible) and sells for only $55.00 (they sale it at cost). I couldn’t help myself, so I ordered the Bible, printed the sample page from their site and started developing my new note-taking system.


I’m using PrismaColor coloring pencils. They are available for $1.49 each at Hobby Lobby. I chose 12 colors that don’t look alike and started experimenting. The color code is mostly the same as before, but I will be modifying it slightly. The pencils are used for highlighting the text. Before, I highlighted the whole phrase of the topic. Now, I underline the phrase and highlight the key points. This gives me the advantage of being able to quickly scan the page. Before, I could know quickly which verses were Godhead topics. Now, I can quickly know the key points of each Godhead topic.


I’m using Pigma Micron from Sakura in 005 for taking notes. I am starting with three colors: black for taking notes, blue for writing the name of the topic (or a symbol such as a circle, square, letter, or number if I don’t want to take up as much room- the same symbol would be drawn at the beginning of the word or phrase in the text), and red for the references. I also bought green, just in case. After seeing the sample page, the blue and the red are a touch bright. I like darker colors, so I might go with burgundy and brown. I’ll try a few other colors before I write in my Bible. I’ll be adding a few things later on, so I might add some colors later. PrismaColor also makes a set of markers that work well with Bibles, but I’m supporting Sakura because they have at least two sets of pens that are marketed as Bible marking pens. As long as Sakura is promoting Bible study, I will support Sakura.

105082: PIGMA Micron Bible Marking Kit PIGMA Micron Bible Marking Kit
030508: PIGMA Inductive Bible Marking Kit PIGMA Inductive Bible Marking Kit


I decided to use a ruler for making straight lines. This way I don’t write crooked(er). I had gotten a 6 inch Bible ruler with the names of the books of the Bible on it. This ruler doesn’t bend very well so I looked for something else. I use to have an underling ruler that was flimsy enough to follow the bend of the paper. I can’t find that ruler anymore, so I went with a 6 inch sheet magnifier/ruler.  I wanted to make one out of stencil material. I planned to cut symbols into the stencil so I could use it to mark my Bible with symbols, but I don’t want to develop a symbol system right now. This ruler has the added benefit of being a magnifier (handy for those of us after 40).

Once I throw in an organizer Bible case and a notebook (don’t put a premium leather Bible in a canvas case… that would be wrong) I will have a complete study kit.

My note-taking system will change. I still want topics in the margins like my Thompson, but I want to add my own topics and references, so I will make a system similar to Thompson’s for the topical chain reference. Also, I have lots of study Bibles that have some key features that I want to incorporate into my new Bible (I already have some of these features in my Thompson – the Promise Keepers Men’s Study Bible devotionals and the Full Life Study Bible Pentecostal studies). Here are some of the items that will go in my margins:

  • Notes – Black pen
  • Topical heading for chain references (similar to Thompson) – Blue pen
  • Chain References (similar to Thompson) – Red pen
  • Parallel passages
  • Translation notes, variant readings – (maybe in green)
  • Definitions – English, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic (including terms like monotheism, eschatology, etc)
  • Chapter headings
  • Subject headings
  • Fulfilled prophecies
  • OT quotes
  • Time chart, timeline
  • Alleged scientific mistakes
  • Alleged contradictions
  • Updated names (Esias = Isaiah, Noe = Noah, etc)
  • Study helps from other study Bibles – Full Life, Greek-Hebrew Key Word, Prophecy, Promise Keepers, Defender’s, etc
  • Apologetics – Oneness (one God, salvation, holiness, gifts of the Spirit), the Bible (science, archaeology, etc), Creation, also- Angelology (Angels), Bibliology (The Written Word), Critical Thinking, Ecclesiology (The Church), Eschatology (The Last Things), Hermeneutics (The Science of Interpretation), Pneumatology (The Spirit), Soteriology (Salvation), Theology Proper (The Person of God), Hamartiology (Sin)
  • Arguments against false doctrine
  • Doctrinal rebuttals
  • General facts
  • Commentary from other authors
  • Note at beginning of each book showing chronological order
  • References, sources, and citations
  • Drawings, charts, diagrams
  • Controversial topics (including archaeological, etc)
  • Popular sayings (by preachers, etc)
  • Helps – daily devotions, building good habits (including 7 habits of highly effective people), one year reading plan, etc.
  • Timeline of Church Fathers
  • Notes from “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”
  • Important dates and timelines (book of Acts, gospels, etc)

I’m sure I left something out. I know I can’t get a lot of details in the margins, but that won’t stop me from trying. I’ll just have to write small and succinct. This is a multi-year project, so I’m not getting in a hurry.

Here’s some pictures of the sample page I downloaded after I’ve marked it up with my new system (mostly just as an example). I’ll be tweaking it a little until I’m sure of what I want before I start writing. The actual notes will be several years’ worth of Bible study.

This type of note system will work with any wide margin and the coloring system will work for almost any Bible (just make sure you include a key to the color code somewhere – I like using the pages in the front of the Bible). I’ll be ironing out the details for a while. I will print practice pages before I start in my Bible (something I recommend highly). I wanted to share this because I was surprised at how difficult it is to find information about how to use a wide margin Bible. It does little good to have those awesome margins if you don’t know how to use them. If no one else has claimed this method then I will call it the “Studies in Scripture Bible Marking Method” :-D. Now, my new Study Bible just arrived…


  1. i was just doing some online family history stuff and came across your reference to the Dugan bible.  My grandfather made and published those bibles and it put a smile in my heart to know that his hard work still blesses people even after being out of business for last ten years or so. 

  2. Wow. Thanks for responding. I’d LOVE to get my hands on a few more of those Dugan Topical Bibles :0)

  3. Nice layout of how you use your bible marking kit! I really enjoyed the effort you put into your study of the word and how easy it must be for you to share the Word with some much detail put into this.

  4. *****
    THANK YOU for posting your Bible-Marking method online! You are correct: good Bible-Marking systems are hard to find.  Too many people begin marking their Bibles haphazzardly and before long have a disorganized mess on their hands tha is more distracting than helpful.  I KNOW!
    F.Y.I., there is A WHOLE CHAPTER on Bible_Marking in an excellent booklet entitled, “How To Study Your Bible.”  You can get a FREE copy for the asking at by writing or calling:
    Church of God International
    3900 Timms St
    Tyler, TX   75701
    Phone: (903) 939-2929
    Fax: (903) 939-3265
    or by emailing:

    Keep up the good work!      :^)
    Lloyd W. Cary


  5. Hello!
    I am glad you mention the Dugan Topical Study Bible, also known as the Crusade Topical Reference Bible. Are those Bibles still being produced today? They don’t seem to be available today. I know pastor Arnold Dugan died in 2006 and it seems like his publishing companies – Crusade and Jubilee – no longer exist, or am I wrong? If anybody out there knows where to get another copy of those Bibles, please let me know. I do not want to switch to another Ref. Bible. Thanks for any further information.

  6. I’ve found for a ruler – the flimsy plastic ones found in filofax’s (A5 one especially) works wonders for underlining – you can get them in transparent – mine is black, but has enough flex to get into the centre of the bible when opened, or if you’re underlining whilst the bible is on your knees or other uneven surface.  Just my 2p observation for my current bible.  I’m awaiting a wide-margin Cambridge (hardback) so found this whilst doing some research on marking ideas.

  7. Awesome! Flimsy rulers are my favorite for underlining, and they are hard to find. I love the Cambridge hardback editions. I wish they had it in KJV. I have the NKJV and it’s the nicest NKJV I own. Thanks for the info.

  8. Thanks for the great article, I’ve been trying to come up with a good highlighting and study system, so I appreciate hearing how you did it.

  9. Jet Pens is a wonderful site for erasable pens and markers.I use the multicolor pack of the #5pens and I use the multicolor pack of erasable highlighters.(I always order a number of the erasable yellow highlighters)I use these to mark in study guides and my Preceipt work books.Simply Click on the site,and on the home page search for erasable pens and highlighters. They are a little expensive,but you can erase your mistakes and they don’t bleed through your bible.Also if you use colored pencils use the erasable ones. You can get these at WalMart.

  10. .IN addition when you mark in your bible if you go back to your concordance find that word and mark it the same way.That way you won’t forget how you marked your key words and they can be the same throughout your bible.

  11. I like the idea of marking the Bible with

    Why not just copy the chapter or part of the chapter and mark on separate page and keep in notebook?

  12. That’s a great idea! That way it doesn’t matter which Bible you use or how much space you have for notes.

  13. I too think the Dugan Topical Reference Bible was one of the best there were…I think even more so than the Subject Bible…had one of the best concordances there was…if it ever came back into would still be a top contender! Only thing I could really see is if the small chapter headings and cross references were a little bigger…at any rate when it was put together you can tell it was no small task..

  14. I am not sure if you have kept this up and running, but I have been following it for a few years. I was wondering if after 10 years you have a few photos you could share with us.

  15. Thanks Kevin! I do plan to start posting again, as soon as I can slow down on a few other responsibilities. I appreciate the encouragement.


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