Bible Formatting and Design
blog posts by J. Mark Bertrand at the Bible Design Blog
I didn’t use to give much thought to the way my Bible was formatted and designed. Growing up, I used a two-column, paragraph Bible and never questioned why the Bible looked that way, even though every other book I read and owned–save for the dictionary–was single column. A few years back I stumbled across the Bible Design Blog as I looked online for what Bible to move to from my childhood NIV Adventure Bible. I’d like to present some of the most design-focused posts to you:
“Why Paragraphs? Why Single Column?” This is one of Bertrand’s first posts describing his problem with verse-by-verse Bibles, where each verse is printed on a new line. I’ve been fortunate to grow up with non-verse-by-verse, or paragraph, Bibles since my first childhood Bible given to me by my church upon graduating kindergarten. Since then all my Bibles have been in paragraph format, and I think it makes more sense. It’s more readable, for one, since my eyes don’t have to repeatedly move back to the margin…
“The Case Against Verse-By-Verse” Here Bertrand furthers his case for why verse-by-verse is not a great way to formt the Bible. Paragraphs package the text into thought processes. They provide context for each verse, so that verses are understood in light of the surrounding verses. This makes a verse easier to interpret–and more difficult to misinterpret. This post, combined with the one above, do a good job of explaining why I stick to paragraph Bibles: they’re easier to read and provide context for the reader.
“Poetry in Single Column Settings” Bertrand has made me a fan of single column settings. Not only are these more readable compared to double column settings, since it’s what I’m most used to and my eyes don’t have to jump back and forth as much, single column does wonders for the poetry section. Double column creates odd line breaks that are necessitated by the narrowness of the column, but single column shows the original Hebrew style and metering. The pictures in this post describe this better than I can in words. All in all, these posts contribute to why my main carry and reading Bible is a single column, paragraph format. If you’re going to read your Bible, it’s worth thinking about how it’s designed!