red marker with bible so someone can show color coding in the bible
Spiritual Growth

Bible Color Coding: The BEST Way to Color Code Your Bible

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A Fail-Proof Bible Highlighting Color System

If you’re reading this post, I can only assume you’re wondering, how do I learn to highlight the Bible? Friend, you’re in good company. Today I’m sharing the Bible Highlighting guide we’ve been using to help over four thousand women in our community study the Bible effectively. It’s the best way to complete Bible color coding.

We want God’s words to move from the pages of the Bible to the depths of our hearts, right? That’s when they truly become life-giving.

Color-coding the Bible is a fresh and creative way for the everyday Christian woman to study the Bible and engage with scripture.

In this post, you’ll learn how to color code your Bible in 4 simple steps. I’ll answer popular questions like “is it a sin to highlight in the Bible?” and show you how to mark your Bible with symbols and colors.

I’ll even give you the opportunity to snag our personal (and printable) color-coded Bible pdf. It’s our community’s most well-loved Bible study resource and I am stoked to get it into your hands! Ready to dive in?!

The Basics of Color Coded Bible Highlighting

First things first, let’s work through some of the common questions people have about our Bible highlighting guide.

Do I have to highlight in my Bible to use this Bible Study color code method? Actually, no! We put together the Bible highlighting guide primarily for highlighting, but we also know there are people who have reservations about writing and highlighting the Bible. If you’d rather take notes in a notebook and highlight them there (or write with colored pencils) that’s fine. Another alternation is using colored sticky tabs to mark verses that stand out to you.

Should I color-code my Bible? I honestly encourage you to follow your convictions on this one. I personally have not come across anything in the Bible that would cause me to question Bible highlighting. But if you’ve asked yourself, is it ok to highlight in the Bible? and you don’t have peace about it; don’t do it. It’s healthier for you to be at peace with your choice than struggle with compromising your convictions. You can still use the Bible highlighting guide in partnership with the alternatives above.

What is the best highlighter for Bible use? Some quick Bible highlighting housekeeping – not all Bible highlighters are created equal. Bibles tend to have thin pages which makes using generic markers and highlighters a bit risky. If you’re going to use markers or highlighters you want to make sure you use smear and bleed-proof highlighters. You can find my take on what is the best Bible highlighter in this article.

How do I learn to highlight the Bible? I’m sharing my 4-step Bible Highlighting system with you below!

a visual of the Bible Highlighting guide created by Alonda Tanner

4 Steps of Color Coded Bible Highlighting

These are the four steps I used to create what our ladies’ group calls, the Bible Study Key. They’re simple steps designed to help Bible readers study, understand, and remember what God is teaching us individually through the Bible. I’ll list them here quickly and then walk you through each step in detail as you continue reading.

I think it’s important to note, and you’ll notice as I explain, that a highlighted Bible for me is not just about categories, doodling, or Bible journaling. The goal is not to have a Bible that looks pretty. The goal is to study in a way that helps you grow. You’ll notice these four steps of the Bible Highlighting guide are different than most. That’s why.

We value fun and creativity. We love that the Bible study key incorporates those things, but our main priority is spiritual growth.

That being said, let’s talk through the 4 steps.

  1. Pick a topic (or topics) of study.
  2. Choose your colors.
  3. Choose your symbols.
  4. Start Reading and marking up your Bible!

Step 1 | Pick A Topic of Bible Study or Area of Focus

How do you decide what topic(s) to highlight? Ask yourself these questions. They’ll help you sort through what your Bible study categories should be.

  1. What areas of your life has God prompted you to change so you can better live for Him?
  2. Is there a habit or trait you feel you need to grow in?
  3. What questions do you have about life, faith, God, etc. that you’re hoping scripture will give you clarity on?

Jot your ideas down on a piece of paper. Those will become your categories.

How many categories should you come up with? That is totally up to you! Because this is about growth and not just a trendy Bible study practice, there’s no need to create categories just for the sake of having them.

If you can only come up with four categories right now; ok! You’ve got yourself a 4 color Bible highlighting system.

If you can come up with 5 you’ve got yourself a 5 color Bible highlighting system. If 6; you’ll have a 6 color Bible highlighting system.

One of the ladies in my Bible study group is starting with only one color/category and is sticking to that until God has her do otherwise.

This is about more than stacking colors on a Bible color coding chart. We want this to be fruitful. Pretty is a bonus.

Step 2 | Choose Your Colors

Once you’ve decided what you’re main study focuses are you can assign each one a color.

The Bible study key we share in our community uses generic rainbow colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. It’s easier to find Bible highlighters when you are using generic colors.

Just because you’re using generic colors doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with them! For example, if you’ve ever study Bible colors you’ll find that purple is often used as a symbol or description of royalty. In my mind that is the perfect way to describe God. So when I come across portions of the Bible that describe the character of God I highlight it in purple.

If that feels too complicated you can skip the symbolism. Just assign a color to each category and move onto step 3.

Step 3 | Choose Your Symbols. Simple Bible Marking Methods.

Next, I’m going to show you how to mark your Bible with symbols.  This section will also answer the question, how do I annotate my Bible?

In our Bible highlighting guide, we use symbols to help us engage with scripture. Each symbol represents an action step.

  • TRIANGLE → Place a triangle buy portions of scripture that you feel the need to pray about.
  • CIRCLE → Circle words that you need to define or research further.
  • UNDERLINE → Underline conjunctions (i.e. the words and, if, or) that are parts of instructions and consequences. This helps Bible readers tie actions to consequences and take responsibility for our role in following God’s instructions.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve limited the number of symbols I use to three.

Step 4 | Start Reading and Marking Up Your Bible

So we’ve defined our area of focus, selected the colors for our Bible highlighter color-code, and decided which symbols we’re using. Now it’s time to pick up the Bible and start reading.

Do you highlight every Bible verse that aligns with your areas of focus? Personally, I don’t. That would be more content than I can take in in one sitting. The highlighted Bible verses in my Bible are verses that stood out to me, convicted me, instructed me in a fresh light. They are verses that build upon the foundation I already have.

What should I do after I’ve highlighted the Bible verses? This is where I start dissecting the Bible verses and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces.

Is this something I need to pray through? If yes, mark it with the triangle and write it in my prayer journal.

Do I have questions about the verse? If yes, I’ll circle the appropriate words and phrases and start researching.

Is this Bible verse tied to a direct consequence, warning, blessing, promise, or promise? If yes, I mark the appropriate words and make note of the conditions, instructions, and promises.

Suddenly the Bible isn’t just fancy words on printed pages; it’s life-giving instruction that is shaping and changing my life.

I love that something as simple as a highlighted Bible can do something like that!

How to Highlight Using an Inductive Bible Study Color Code

We’ve walked through the basics of how I use the Bible highlighting guide. Up next is an introduction to a modified use of the highlighting guide – the Inductive Bible Study Color Code.

Inductive Bible study is a way of learning about the events of the Bible by asking a specific set of questions. Learn the details of Inductive Bible Study (and get a printout of the Inductive Bible study questions) here.

The difference between this and the original Bible highlighting color code is that the Inductive Color code uses who, what, when, where, and why as it’s categories. So step #1 in the how-to guide is done for you. Your next step is to assign each of those a color. Step 3 – Choose your symbols. And finally; start reading.

When you come across Bible passages that stand out to you and answer the questions, who, what, when, where, or why you’ll highlight them with the appropriate colors and/or symbols.

Simple enough, right?

At the very least every Bible reading session should end with something to act on or pray about. That’s really where the change happens. All the knowledge in the world will do very little if we don’t put it to work. Prayer is the best way to put what you’ve learned from the Bible to work.

Ready to try the color code Bible method for yourself?

Click here to get a printout and digital screensaver of our Bible Study Color Code! I’ll send it straight to your inbox!

mock up of the digital Bible Highlighting Guide from Alonda Tanner

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