180906Books and Bibles

The case for single-column Bibles

Much like everyone, I have opinions that are probably worth more to me than anyone else. When it comes to Bibles, for instance, I prefer those where the text is laid out in one column, not two. A single column is far more inviting to my eyes, and I don’t think I’m alone. With the exception of the Bible, most every book has one column of text per page which is no accident. Book publishers have intentionally printed them that way for many, many years.

The brain subconsciously responds positively or negatively to a book’s layout. Two columns of text on a page discourages your mind as it thinks, There are too many words here. Add to this already overwhelming design another column of Scripture references, not to mention chapter breaks, subheadings, verse numbers, and footnotes, and you’ll find yourself tempted to close the Bible much sooner than you would any other book. Choose a Bible with only one column of text, and you’ll likely notice a drastic difference.

That is why I always recommend a single-column edition whenever someone asks me for suggestions. If they want an ESV, I’ll point them to the Single Column Personal Bible (Amazon | Westminster) or maybe the Single Column Journaling Bible (Amazon | Westminster). If they want a CSB, I’ll offer a choice between the Notetaking Bible (Amazon) or the Single-Column Personal Size Bible (Amazon). When my father-in-law was searching for an NLT, the family gave him a Reflections Bible (Amazon) as a gift upon my recommendation.

Of course, if reading alone is your goal and chapter-verse numbers aren’t necessary, then I’ll always default to reader’s editions such as the ESV Reader’s Bible (Amazon | Westminster) or the NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project (Amazon). The experience of your daily Bible reading will never be the same.

Cross-references, footnotes, and study helps have their place, but I prefer the infallible word of God with as few distractions as possible more times than not.