What You Need to Know When Buying a Bible

February 28, 2019

There are lots of things to consider when buying a Bible, such as translations, types of Bible, dimensions, point size, and price. All of these points will be determined by how the Bible will be used. We’ll look at each of these points to help you decide the kind of Bible you need.

Bible Translations

Choose the translation that’s the most readable to you and best fits your needs. There are two major translation philosophies: word-for-word and thought-for-thought.

Word-for-word, also known as literal or formal equivalent, attempts to provide as close as possible a direct translation of the words themselves in readable English. The focus is on accuracy. Popular translations include the KJV, NKJV, NET, ESV, and NASB.

Thought-for-thought, also referred to as functional equivalent or dynamic equivalent, attempts to provide the meaning of the words or phrases. The focus is on readability. Popular translations include the NIV, CSB, and NLT.

Thomas Nelson publishes two of the most popular word-for-word translations available: the KJV and the NKJV.

Released in 1611, the KJV was the most widely read English translation for the past four centuries. Based on the Received Text, its majestic English is ideal for reading, study, devotions, and preaching.

Commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, the NKJV is a revision of the KJV that retains the KJV’s beauty while providing a translation that’s ideal for the modern reader. It’s faithful to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts while considering research in linguistics, textual studies, and archaeology. It’s great for reading, study, devotions, and preaching.

Types of Bibles

There are many types of Bibles available in today’s market. Here’s a look at the major types and how they can be used.

woman reading a study Bible

Study Bibles (like the NKJV Study Bible pictured above) provide tools for study and insights into specific passages and topics. They often include charts, graphs, illustrations, in-text maps, commentary, profiles, indexes, references, concordance, and maps. Some include articles and full-color photos. They’re usually large Bibles and provide the text in two columns with tools at the bottom of the page or within the text. The tools make them great for personal study, group study, sermon prep, and teaching. Some popular study Bibles from Thomas Nelson include the KJV Study Bible, the NKJV Study Bible, the NKJV Chronological Study Bible, the, the Maxwell Leadership Bible, and MacArthur Study Bible.

Reference Bibles provide the text with cross-references and translation footnotes to help you find related verses or passages. They often include a concordance and maps in the back. They’re available in both single and double column layouts. They come in all sizes and are great for carrying, witnessing, reading, studying, and preaching.

Text Bibles remove all the extras and focus on the text. Some even remove the verse numbers. They usually have a larger font for their dimensions when compared to study and reference Bibles. Layouts include both single and double-column designs. They come in all sizes and are ideal for carrying, reading, and preaching. Examples include the Preaching Biblethe Minister’s Bible, and  Reader’s Bibles.

Journal Bible
Journal Bibles provide space and paper designed for writing your own notes, thoughts, prayers, and artwork. They’re available with or without references and usually don’t include other extras. Their thick paper makes a thick Bible, but most are not too large for carrying. With single column layouts and ruled wide outer margins, they look and feel like both Bible and journal, so writing in them feels natural. Check out these Journal the Word Bibles.

Gift Bibles are usually small and inexpensive. Most have double-column layouts and don’t include many extra features. They’re great for carrying, witnessing, to give away, for special occasions, or for missions.

Devotional Bibles provide devotionals with insights on the passages they relate to. They focus on inspirational thoughts with personal application. Some are general while others focus on a specific theme or audience. They often include daily devotions to follow or devotions you can read when you want. They usually have double-column layouts. They’re great for personal and group devotions.


Bibles are available in many sizes. They range from small enough to carry anywhere to too large to leave the desk or pulpit. The size you need will greatly depend on how you will use it, which includes the features and font size you prefer.

Regular size Bibles, the most common size, are around 9.5 X 6.5 X 1.5 inches. Most types of Bibles are available in regular size.

Large Bibles are somewhere around 10 x 7 x 1.75 inches. Study, reference, and text Bibles are available in this size.

Compact Bibles are usually around 6.25 x 4.25 x 1.25 inches. Reference and text Bibles are available in this size.

Thinline editions are available from small to large, but what sets them apart is they’re usually around 1- inch thick. Reference and text Bibles are available in Thinline.

Point Size

Typefaces range from small to giant print. Point size affects the size and features of the Bible. To choose your point size you’ll need to decide how the Bible will be used when compared with your personal needs.

Small print is usually around 7 point or lower. This is ideal for carrying and reading on the go.

Medium print is around 8 to 9 point. It’s usually more comfortable to read and is ideal for general reading and studying.

Large print is generally 10-11 point. This size can be read for long periods of time, making it great for reading, studying, and public reading or preaching.

Giant Print is often 12 point or above. This size is ideal for anyone who has trouble reading the smaller fonts; it’s also great for preaching.


The types of Bibles and materials used will affect the price.

$9.99 or less – includes softcover and imitation leather. Editions include gift and award and outreach Bibles. They’re great for short-term use or for getting started.

$10-$69.99 – includes hardcover, cloth-over-board, bonded leather, and imitation leather. These editions include pasted liners and standard paper with gold gilting. They include gift and award, text, reference, devotional, journaling, and study Bibles. They’re great for general use.

$70-$108.99 – includes cloth-over-board, imitation leather, bonded leather, genuine leather, and cowhide with pasted liners, and standard paper with gold gilting. They include reference, journaling, and study Bibles. They’re great for general use.

$109 and above – includes premium leathers such as edge-lined calfskin or goatskin, premium paper, and gold or art-gilting. They include reference, study, journaling, and text Bibles. The premium leathers last the longest and are ideal for heavy use.

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1 reply on “What You Need to Know When Buying a Bible”

I have just discovered the NKJV compact thinline Bible with comfort print, the mahogany cover with blue flowers! I am delighted – was looking for something to carry in my purse, and it is perfect. I found it by chance at a discount store – hope it is not being discontinued as it seems the right size, print, design for so many! I am new to Bible study, and through this have researched NKJV and Thomas Nelson – so glad that his name and memory are kept. I will look for more! Thank you!! Sally MacDonald

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