How to Choose a Journaling Bible

With so many different options available, how can you possibly decide which is the best journaling Bible for you? In this post, I’ll give you five factors to consider, so you know how to choose a journaling Bible that fits your needs.

how to choose a  journaling Bible - the best journaling Bible for you

{ This post and the photos within it contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking an affiliate link, my ministry gets a small commission, with no extra cost to you. See my full disclosures HERE. }

When I bought my first art journaling Bible back at the end of 2015, there weren’t nearly as many to choose from. I really wanted an NIV journaling Bible (since the NIV is my go-to version), but there weren’t any available at that time. And then, I spotted one on Amazon…the NIV Journal the Word Bible would be released in late December 2015, so I asked for a gift certificate for Christmas, and got it as soon as it was available. I was so excited to get started!

Little did I know, how much Bible journaling would transform my relationship with God, and help me fall in love with His Word. It’s made the Scriptures come alive in such a unique way, that mere reading or note-taking can’t do (especially since I’m such a visual person!).

Bible journaling watercolor page on Psalm 113

Of course, nowadays, there are TONS of NIV journaling Bibles, plus other translations like the NLT, ESV, and so forth. Not to mention other options, like interleaved Bibles, or Bibles with thick paper.

Which is great! BUT…that also means, if you’re interested in buying a journaling Bible, the choices can be pretty overwhelming! How can you possibly know which one is best?

What is the best journaling Bible?

Okay, so before we get into how to choose a journaling Bible, let’s get one thing straight: there is no ONE best journaling Bible out there. Pretty much all of them are great Bibles; it just depends on what you’re looking for!

Each journaling Bible has different qualities, that make it unique. Some are better for writing, some are specifically designed for art journaling, others are even made to be compact and easy to take with you on-the-go (like if you travel a lot for work!).

And, you don’t have to stick with just one either! You can start with the best journaling Bible to fit your needs as a beginner, but then add another one later for a specific purpose (like an interleaved Bible to do full-page artwork in). [Personally, I now have four: my original NIV Journal the Word Bible, the Illustrating Bible—which is a journaling Bible with thick pages and extra-wide margins, the NIV New Testament Pocket Bible, and my newest one, this beautiful NLT Journaling Bible].

Matthew 5:16 let your light shine Bible journaling with embossing

How to Choose a Journaling Bible: 5 Factors to Consider

The key to knowing how to choose a journaling Bible, then, is to know what qualities you’re looking for! Once you’ve identified what you’re looking for, that will make it so much easier to select the best journaling Bible for you. Just ask yourself these five questions…

1) Which translation(s) do you prefer?

When deciding which is the best journal Bible for you, this is the first question to ask… Which version do you usually read the Bible in? For example, do you enjoy the old fashioned language of the King James Version (KJV)? Or maybe you’re like me, and prefer the easier-to-understand New International Version (NIV) or New Living Translation (NLT)? If you’re not sure how to choose a Bible translation, head over to Bible.com or BibleGateway.com to read in different versions, and see which one resonates with you most.

NOTE: Not every Bible translation is available as a journaling Bible; the most commonly available (at the present time) are NIV, ESV, NLT, CSB, NRSV, KJV, and NKJV. I would love to someday have a journaling Bible in the Amplified version (which I love for its clear breakdown of the original Hebrew and Greek meanings of the words), but at the moment, there are no AMP journaling Bibles. I also hope to someday find an NIV interleaved version, but at the present time, the only interleaved Bibles available are ESV.

2) What’s the paper like?

The next step in finding your best Bible for journaling, is to consider the paper color and thickness.

Of all the qualities of my original NIV Journal the Word Bible, the only one that I’ve really wished were different, is the paper color. The paper is not bright white, but more like a yellow tint, which would be fine for black-and-white note taking, but it doesn’t work as great for Bible art journaling. I’ve noticed that the colors I put down, often don’t look as bright or true to their original color, since they’re interacting with the yellow tint of the page.

Bible journaling - work as for the Lord

In fact, when I purchased my most recent NLT Journaling Bible, I chose it not only for the translation (NLT is a close second, in terms of my preferred translations), but also for the crisp whiteness of the paper! Since my first Bible is very full now, I do a lot of my journaling in this new NLT Bible.

Bible journaling on 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So anyway, if having a pure white page is important to you, definitely consider that in your search. The Illustrating Bible has bright white pages, as do many other art journaling Bibles.

Also, be aware that most journaling Bibles have very wafer-thin pages, which means that they’re prone to bleed-through with certain items, and even with colored pencils you may see some “ghosting” (where the artwork is faintly visible on the back of the page).

If you’re specifically looking for the best journaling Bible with thick pages, then the Illustrating Bible will likely be your favorite. (More on the Illustrating Bible, in question #4 below…)

That being said, even though three of my journaling Bibles have super-thin pages, I’ve still made them work by prepping the page with gesso in some cases, and then other times I just let it show through and don’t worry about it. No big deal.

Bible journaling - Jesus paid it all

3) What’s the page layout like (font size, margins, etc.)?

The next factor to consider in how to choose a journaling Bible, is what kind of page layout you want your Bible to have. Do you prefer normal size text, or a large print journaling Bible that’s easier to read? Would you like a single column journaling Bible, or is two columns of text okay? Do you want lines in the margins, or do you prefer a journaling Bible without lines? (Lines can be handy for note-taking and as a spacing guide for hand lettering, but if you’re planning on doing a lot of detailed artwork in the margins, it does look nicer without the lines).

You can also get a journaling Bible that comes with pre-printed art in the margins, like this NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible. In fact, this kind of coloring Bible is actually the best journaling Bible for beginners, because it makes it so easy to get started!

Lamentations coloring page

4) How much space do you want for journaling?

This one is a BIG factor in how to choose a journaling Bible… 😉 A regular Bible typically only has 0.5” margins (which you can totally journal in, just with very small handwriting and tiny doodles—this is referred to as “micro journaling”).

Most of the best journaling Bibles feature 2” margins, but there are a few exceptions. If you want more space, the Illustrating Bible is a spiral bound journaling Bible which boasts 3.75” margins AND thicker paper—which is excellent for art journaling!

The Illustrating Bible now comes in two versions for you to choose from: a CSB journaling Bible version (green cover, which is the one I have), and the newer NIV journaling Bible version (available with a pink cover or dark gray cover).

Illustrating Bible - armor of God journaling

Another great option for more space, is an “interleaved” Bible, which has a blank page in-between every page of Bible text. With an interleaved journaling Bible, you can create elaborate full-page artwork, without worrying about obscuring the Bible text!

5) Does portability matter to you?

One last thing to consider when deciding which is your best Bible for Bible journaling, is whether or not you plan to take your Bible on-the-go. For example, if you want to take it to church, Bible study/journaling small group, on vacation, during business travel, etc.

Most Bibles are pretty easy to carry, with one notable exception… The Illustrating Bible may be the best Bible for art journaling, but it’s so huge (9.5”x9.5” and 2” thick), and pretty hefty, it’s really best for journaling at home only.

pocket Bible journaling - a new creation in Christ

If you want something even smaller and easier to carry than a regular journaling Bible, look for a “pocket” journaling Bible, like this NIV Journal the Word New Testament Pocket Bible. It’s about as small as a journaling Bible can get! Take one along with a travel-size set of colored pencils, and you’ll be able to Bible journal anywhere.

Now that you know how to choose a journaling Bible, you can go out and select the best one for you! But regardless of which Bible you choose, what matters most is that you use it well…to study God’s Word, and “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus” (2 Peter 3:18). ❤️

P.S. Once you have your new Bible in hand, be sure to check out my beginner’s guide: How to Use a Journaling Bible! And, don’t miss my master list of the Best Bible Journaling Supplies!

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Lorrie November 22, 2020, 9:15 pm

    Hi Barbara
    I’m new to Bible journaling (well any journaling) and was considering the Spiral bound NIV Illustrating Bible. I was wondering if you could tell me if the pages are too think to be able to put a design behind them to be traced. I’m sure my creativity will need some help and tracing a design would be helpful for me.
    Thanks for your help!
    Lorrie

    • Barbara Austin November 23, 2020, 7:45 pm

      Hi Lorrie! You can definitely still trace things through the Illustrating Bible pages. But, regardless of how thin the Bible paper is, I highly recommend using a light pad for tracing. I always use one, just because I can see what I’m tracing so much better with than without it. Kind of like the difference between squinting to see something in a dimly lit room vs. turning the light on…that light makes a big difference!

  • Sherry March 15, 2023, 8:54 pm

    I have the Gospels version of the Illustrating Bible. I wanted to try it out before buying the full version. I have two Inspire Bibles (one is full and the second getting there!) and before that I journaled in a plain ol’ Women’s Study Bible! I did one for each of my kids. I still feel like a beginner though and I’m trying new things.

    • Barbara Austin March 15, 2023, 9:03 pm

      It’s always good to try new things, even when you’re no longer a “beginner”. God always has new things for us to learn from His Word! 😉 🙌🏻

Leave a Comment