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How To Cite the Bible

Referencing this text in research papers or essays has its own special set of rules.


  • Step 1: Don't include well-known books like the Bible in a bibliography when simply citing scripture. Include a bibliographic entry only if you are citing editorial material from a study Bible.
  • Step 2: Use citations in your Works Cited section, naming the edition of the bible, followed by a period, the city it was published in, followed by a colon, the publishing company, a comma, and the year published.
  • FACT: Did you know? Research has found that 91 percent of American households have at least one Bible, with the average household owning four.
  • TIP: Italicize if you specify the title of a Bible produced by a particular publishing house, like The NIV Study Bible.
  • Step 3: Don't underline, italicize, or use quotation marks when citing books or versions of the Bible. Unlike other references, it is always left plain.
  • Step 4: Cite the chapter number. Then, after a colon or a period, give the verse number.
  • TIP: Either a colon or a period is acceptable; just be consistent.
  • Step 5: Identify the version of the Bible, such as King James Version or New International Version. You may either abbreviate the version or use the full title. Naming the version is only necessary in the first citation, unless you switch versions.
  • Step 6: Cite in footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical notes after quoting a passage of scripture. Give the name of the book, using abbreviations, such as Ps. for Psalms or Prov. for Proverbs.

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