Everything you wanted to know about Bible Journaling

Over the last few months, I’ve had so much fun Bible journaling. It’s a great way to worship through art while connecting with the scripture I’m studying.

As I’ve been sharing posts on Instagram and with friends, I’ve been asked a few questions over and over, so I thought I’d collect these questions together for Bible journaling newbies, too.

I’m always happy to answer questions and talk about Bible journaling, so if you have a question not answered here, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

What Bible do you use? I use an ESV Single Column Journaling Bible by Crossway.

Where did you get your tabs? The tabs on my journaling Bible are by American Crafts and are available at Michaels. I have a set similar to these from Illustrated Faith on my study Bible, and I actually like them a little more. (No one ever sees them, so I had to give them a shout out, too!)

What pens and highlighters don’t bleed or shadow on thin Bible pages? I’ve had the best luck with this Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling pen, and these Bible highlighters. They still shadow a tiny bit, but Bible pages are super thin, so pretty much anything other than a ballpoint pen is going to shadow at least a little.

Do you cover the words of the Bible? A lot of people do, but I do not if I can avoid it.  Here’s why: Most people say they’re OK with covering the words, because they have other Bibles to study from. I think this is 100 percent valid, and I’m in no way saying you should not cover the words.
I personally, don’t cover the words for two reasons. First, I believe God’s words are sacred, and these are the boundaries I set for myself when I started Bible journaling — not that this is a hard and fast rule for everyone, but this is what I’m comfortable with. Secondly, in the off chance that someone (maybe a grandchild or great-grandchild? who knows?)  discovers my journaling Bible years in the future, AND that person is not a Christian, AND that person thinks the journaling is intriguing, I want that person to also be able to see all the scripture connected with it. There’s a crazy slim chance that will ever happen, but you never know. That’s the wild way my brain works!

How do I get started? This question usually has one of two meanings, so I’m going to answer both here.
Artistically: A journaling Bible and a pen is truly all you need to dive in if you’re comfortable doodling. Beyond that, use what you have! I use a lot of planner stickers, because I have a lot of them.
One of my favorite, super-easy techniques is swiping a tiny bit of acrylic paint over the page with an old gift card and then using alphabet stickers to write a phrase. (I use Liquitex Basics paint and it barely even shadows. I’m sure there are others that work well. Whatever you do, use one of the blank pages in the back to test your medium to see how it reacts with the thin pages.)

Spiritually: This is very personal, so you’ll likely find your own routine, but here is what I do: I’m usually working through a study, so I know what I’m going to read. I read the Bible scriptures, then read a devotional about the scriptures I just read, and then I re-read the scriptures while keeping the devotional in mind. Then I’ll pray again and think about what I’ve read.  Usually from there, I know what I want to journal. Sometimes it’s just a short phrase, and sometimes I have a lot to say.

A few things to note if you’ve never studied the Bible before:

  • Generally speaking, I recommend working through a specific study or a book of the Bible at a time over flipping to a random page and reading whatever is on that page. The books of the Bible were written as whole books, and you’ll miss a lot of context if you skip around too much. Context is important!
  • One of the BIGGEST things that helped me learn how to study the Bible was working through studies on books of the Bibles. When you’re still learning your way around, it can be helpful to read through a longer section with someone (even if it’s the author of a study book) and see how they look at the context with the individual verses and then put them together to look at the bigger picture of the chapter and the book. If you’re looking for a study that works through a book, I highly recommend the study on Ephesians — By His Wounds You are Healed by Wendy Horger Alsup — and the Bible study website ifequip.com.


I would love (love, love, LOVE!) to answer any questions you have about Bible journaling and/or the Christian faith. Please, don’t hesitate to send me an email at katieannbarton@gmail.com if you’re struggling with something, or you’re still not sure where to start/how to grow in your faith.

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