Quoting Scripture accurately is essential for maintaining the integrity of holy texts and providing clear references for readers. Here are some key guidelines to ensure precise quoting of Bible verses in your writing:


Using Quotation Marks

Place quotation marks at the beginning and end of the Scripture quote. It’s crucial not to alter the text within the quotation marks; copy it word for word from a reliable source such as Bible Gateway. If you copy from Bible Gateway, remember to remove individual verse numbers from the text.

Quoting Text with Existing Quotation Marks

When the Scripture being quoted already includes quotation marks, convert them to single quotation marks inside your double quotation marks. For example:

Original: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Quoted: “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

Introducing Scripture Quotes

Do not simply “plop” the quotation into your paragraph; lead into it with an introductory phrase. Examples of introductory phrases include:

  • “Scripture states,”
  • “We find this promise in 2 Timothy 1:7,”

Using Parenthetical Documentation

Parenthetical documentation (or in-text citation) is used to inform readers of the source of the quotation. If the Scripture reference is not included in the introductory phrase, it should be placed in parentheses at the end of the quote. For example:

Without reference in the lead-in: “Scripture states, ‘For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline’ (2 Timothy 1:7).”

With reference in the lead-in: “We find this promise in 2 Timothy 1:7, ‘For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.'”

Correct Placement of Punctuation

Ending punctuation (such as a period) should be placed after the parenthetical documentation. For example:

“Scripture states, ‘For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline’ (2 Timothy 1:7).”

If there is no parenthetical documentation, the ending punctuation is placed inside the quotation marks:

“We find this promise in 2 Timothy 1:7, ‘For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.'”

Additional Techniques for Citing Bible Verses

“Bible writing machine” by Gandalfar is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Chapter and Verse Separation

Use a colon to separate the chapter from the verse (e.g., Acts 4:12).

Consecutive Verse Numbers

Use an en dash to link consecutive verse numbers within the same chapter (e.g., John 14:1–6).

Non-Consecutive Verse Numbers

Use a comma to separate non-consecutive verse numbers within the same chapter (e.g., Acts 1:1–8,13–14).

Multiple Chapter and Verse References

Use a semicolon to separate different chapter-and-verse references. If the references are from the same book, do not repeat the book name (e.g., Romans 3:23; 10:9; Ephesians 2:8,10).

Ellipsis Usage in Scripture Quotes

There’s generally no need to use an ellipsis (…) before or after a quoted portion of a Scripture verse unless the context specifically requires it.

Punctuation with Scripture Quotes

Place the full stop or comma after the brackets containing the reference if the quoted portion is not a complete sentence (e.g., ‘my words shall not pass away’ (Mark 13:31)). If the quote is a complete sentence or necessitates a question or exclamation mark, place the punctuation within the quotation marks and omit the final full stop after the reference (e.g., ‘Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?’ (Mark 15:9)).

Use of Numerals for Book Titles

Use Arabic numerals rather than Roman for book titles (e.g., 1 John, 2 Kings).

Italicizing Scripture Quotations

Avoid using italics for Scripture quotations due to varying practices among different Bible versions.

Specifying Source of Bible Versions

Clarify the source of the Bible verses used, especially if one version is predominant. This often appears in the publishing details, such as ‘Scripture quotations from the Modern King James Version or King James Version (AV) unless stated otherwise.’ Include publisher’s details and copyright notices if required, though public domain versions like the AV don’t require these.

By following these guidelines, you will ensure that your writing maintains respect for the holy text, provides clarity and precision, and upholds professional standards for citing Scripture in any written work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *