An Alternative to Scripture Marking: the Integrated Scripture Journal

Elsewhere in the bloggernacle, Gordon Smith has posted his thoughts about scripture marking and why he no longer marks his scriptures. Several of his commentators have described their own scripture marking systems. Back in September of 2004, I wrote a blog post on Ebenezer Orthodoxy about my own concerns with scripture marking.

I have recently been experimenting with a new scripture study method as an alternative to scripture marking. I call it the Integrated Scripture Journal.

I went down to Deseret Book and purchased a looseleaf edition of the Book of Mormon designed for use in a day planner. I then purchased a small three-ring looseleaf-binder-style journal and put the looseleaf Book of Mormon in it. I call it my Book of Mormon Journal.

The first thing I like about this arrangement is that, because it is looseleaf I never have to hold the page I am studying open. I can place the binder flat on my desk, table, or lap and it stays open to where I want it to be. The second thing I like about it is that it eliminates juggling two books, the Book of Mormon and a notebook.

As I read, I write impressions, thoughts, observations, relationships with other scriptures, and note external references or personal experiences related to the text on the journal pages along with the date and then insert them in between the pages of the Book of Mormon to which they relate.

So far I feel like my experience with the scriptures has improved dramatically using this system. Since my experiment seems to be bearing good fruit, I plan to extend my integrated scripture journal idea to other scriptures as well and I am excited to note that looseleaf copies of The Bible and the Triple-Combination are also available.

One thing that I need to improve, however, is the looseleaf journal paper. I need to find paper that is closer in size to the scripture pages. The journal paper I have sticks out beyond the edges of the scripture pages and that can be annoying. I also suspect that when I start with the Bible and Triple-Combination I will have to find journal binders of a more specialized size to adjust for their greater length and thickness.

I would like to see the BYU Religion Department and the Church Education System adopt my looseleaf Integrated Scripture Journal concept into their classes as an enhancement or replacement of the current scripture marking system.

I also think that Deseret Book could arrange to sell ready-made looseleaf Integrated Scripture Journals so that members do not have to create their own make-shift journals as I have done.

In any case, I hope that some of you will find the concept of an Integrated Scripture Journal as useful as I have.

16 thoughts on “An Alternative to Scripture Marking: the Integrated Scripture Journal

  1. Sounds like a nice system you have.

    I think writing down impressions can be a powerful thing. We had a member of our stake presidency teach us that when we write down impressions, the Spirit might follow up initial impressions with further ideas or inspiration. My experience with this is that it is truly worthwhile and that impressions written down on paper turn my mind to conclusions I wouldn’t have drawn otherwise.

  2. When I entered Institute, my wife bought me a set of large print scriptures. I love them. They have bigger margins for note taking, and note taking I certainly did.

  3. Hmm. You took my post which was going to be about scripture marking. I’ll wait a while until people forget your and then post it anyway! (grin)

    Actually I found that if you buy very thin paper ala the scriptural paper and then the post-it note adhesive you can slip them into the scriptures. I’ve not tried it, but I’ve thought about typing up notes in very small print to do this.

    I thought about using a different scripture edition, but the whole point is to be able to find and/or remember things about the scriptures in the edition I have at church.

  4. Excellent idea! I’ve always struggled with having too little room in the margins to note impressions — and with losing impressions and interpretations and thoughts if I don’t write them down. A system like this would definitely help.

  5. At first I tried simple highlighting. This is good until you read your scriptures for the second time and 1) there is no room for other highlighting, and 2) realize I highlighted stupid stuff.

    Then I went to post its. This was ok, but they were too small to fit much on them and too messy.

    Then I got the huge scriptures and printed notes in size 6 font on filing labels and put them in the margins. This was pretty awesome. But soon my scriptures got so thick they wouldn’t close. Also, as a college student, lugging around those huge scriptures is not only a pain, but appears a bit presumptuous.

    Now, I simply don’t mark them at all. This works pretty well, since I have a decent memory and if I see something of interest I analyze it in my head for quite sometiem. I also keep my 150 page notebook handy which is organized thematically with a table of contents. In it I write good quotes, hard questions and new thoughts.

    I am by far most happy with this final option.

  6. I took and xeroxed each page of the triple combination on to regular 8.5X11 paper. Gives me plenty of room for notes. But I did it before the new footnotes and headings came out.

    I’d like to see Deseret Book print some scriptures in different formats. For example, the regular size scripture printed page on large size paper. So, what you would have is what looked from the outside to be the large print scriptures, but when openned it the printed portion would be the exact size of the regular scriptures. So, you’d have some awesome amount of margin for notes. Or the small scripture format on the regular sized scripture paper. If DB wants to have my idea they can, just give me a set and let me get my picture taken presenting President Hinckley with a set.

  7. Looks like these looseleaf editions are no longer in print! What a shame I would love to have a set! I wonder if they will become available again.

  8. My friend and I were recently talking about how we as human beings are so hooked onto electronics. Reading this post makes me think back to that discussion we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside… I just hope that as technology further advances, the possibility of transferring our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It’s one of the things I really wish I could encounter in my lifetime.(Posted on NextPost for R4i Nintendo DS.)

  9. Floyd, I have often thought the same thing. I would love a “large” version of the scriptures with regular sized print so that I had LOTS more room for scripture notes

  10. I like it! I had this idea in mind when I came up with the Skripter. The original idea was to put margins in the Scriptures to write notes, similar to how “preach my gospel” is set up. Since we figured it’s pretty much illegal to re publish the Scriptures, My wife and I made a scripture cover that has a side pocket. You can put either a note pad or hard bound journal in it. It is cool because it actually helps build a habit of scripture journaling. We just got our site redone please check for any typos also working to set up a forum where we can write down our Experience is what Scripture journaling to help each other out. It is definitely a life-changing habit which will increase anybody scripture study 1,000,000,000%!!! One of the best ways that I know to communicate with God.

  11. I love this idea! I had sort of the same idea. I thought about acutally cutting one of the inexpensive scriptures up into columns and then pasting them onto a notebook page. sort of like a planner that had two columns. It would be like having a really big margin. Like a planner page that is two columns; scriptures on left, notes on right.

    I thought about doing this in Word and printing it out after I tried the real cut and past method. I really think I would like this. I will be able to date my comments and have plenty of room to write each time I re-read each book…We’ll see. I am going to try your method. I just don’t know if I would like the scripture pages interrupted with notes. I think I would like to read continuously. I would definitely be turning the page often either way.

    Thanks for you idea! I have found for me when I journal my brain pays attention differently and I really feel the message deeper. I really want to remember the inspiration that I feel as I am trying to understand Isaiah better.

  12. I think you have a great idea. I believe writing crystalizes thought, and that we receive many thoughts and impressions that go unrecorded as we read and study great books. The Book Of Mormon is not the only book worth reading and recording thoughts and impressions as we go along. A company named Personal Ponderings has created a Scripture Journal that is loose leaf and smaller than 8 x 11. They also have a travel companion that is very slim and very handy that you can take with you wherever you go and continue your studies away from home, yet file them in an organized manner in the main journal when you return. It comes with every journal. You ought to take a look at it. Deseret Book ought to take a look at it too. I know a lot of missionaries use them and enjoy the organization as well as convenience. The website is: I think the best thing about the whole system is that little travel companion and the blank tabs in the back of the journal where you can record impressions, visions, dreams, blessings, spiritual experiences, etc., basically – your personal scriptures. A very powerful tool.

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