How to Footnote the Bible

There are four styles for citing (footnoting) references: American Psychological Association style, Modern Language Association style, Chicago Manual of Style and Turabian style. APA style was created in 1929 to establish style rules to help comprehension of scientific writing. The MLA style was established in 1985 in order to provide style rules for writing in the humanities, especially English. Over the years, CMS has become the authoritative reference work for publishers, designers, authors and editors. Turabian style is based upon CMS, but was created for student papers, theses and dissertations. Depending on the type of paper or book you are writing, each style is valid for footnoting the Bible.

Using the Four Different Styles of Writing to Footnote the Bible

Step 1

Find the Bible passage to reference. If using the APA Style, the APA Publication Manual states that reference entries are not needed for the Bible, but a professor may require full publication information. If you are required to cite the Bible, first write the chapter and verse, separating them with a colon. Identify the version of the Bible only in the first footnote in your text. For example: "1 Peter 4:3 New King James Version." If you switch to a different Bible version, you will need to state the new version in the footnote the first time that version is used.

Step 2

Choose the Bible passage to reference. When using MLA style, the titles of books of the Bible are usually abbreviated and a period separates chapter and verse. Like with APA style, the first time a version is cited, it must be identified and separated from chapter and verse by a comma. For example: "New King James Version, Eph. 5.8." If you switch to a different version, cite that version the first time it is used in the text. In the Works Cited section of the paper, make sure to include the title of the Bible, the version and publication information. Example: "New International Version. Holman, 1986."

Step 3

Establish the Bible passage to reference. Chicago style does not require the Bible to be included in the bibliography. When citing a passage of the Bible, abbreviate the name of the book, include the chapter number and the verse number. Separate chapter and verse with a colon. Like with the other styles, include the name of the version you are citing and only include the version name again if you switch versions. For example: "Eph 5:8 New King James Version."

Step 4

Decide on the Bible passage to reference. To footnote the Bible using Turabian style, include the abbreviated name of the book and the chapter and verse number, separated with a colon. With Turabian style, you can spell out the name of the version or abbreviate it. Cite the version the first time used, or when you switch versions. For example: "Heb 8:8-13 NKJV." You do not need to include the Bible in your bibliography.


Memorizing the style of footnotes will make it faster to reference each passage of the Bible.

Make sure you are clear which style your professor or publisher requires for the footnotes.

Things You'll Need

  • A Bible
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