In our last Bible study tip we looked at some of the benefits of handwritten bible notes. Some of these reasons included both improving your focus and memory. These are all reasons why I still write in a physical notebook or an app like GoodNotes. That said, this week we’re going to look at how digital Bible notes can enhance your Bible study.
The Benefits of Digital Bible Notes
Let’s be real, when it comes time to do some serious Bible study, I’m sitting down with my computer or iPad hammering away at the keyboard. I prefer my Bible study to be digital because there are too many advantages I would miss out on if I opted for the handwritten alternative. Let’s look at six reasons why I prefer digital notes over their handwritten counterpart.
Hyperlinked Bible Verses
If you are a user of Bible software, one of the greatest benefits of Bible notes is hyperlinked Bible verses. What do I mean by hyperlinked verses? Two things in particular. First, the ability to attach your note to a specific book, chapter, or verse of the Bible. Second, the ability to type Bible verses in your notes and have them become links that you can tap on to read those verses. Let’s talk about each of these briefly.
Attaching your notes to a book, chapter, or verse is great because it means your notes are visible to you as you read the Bible. As you read your digital Bible you will see a marker in the text to let you know that you made a note on that passage of Scripture. In many ways, it’s like a study Bible where you can glance down at the bottom half of the page to read the commentator’s notes. This is one of the main ways I utilize my digital Bible notes when using Bible software.
The second approach is just as useful, which is having your verses automatically turned into hyperlinks. Type a verse range (i.e. Genesis 1:1-2) in your note, and it will automatically become a link (or become a link after the note is saved). This is useful because, depending on the software, you can begin to see the relationship between passages. For example, you may be writing a note on John 1:1-14 and mention Genesis 1:1 in your note. If you run a search for Genesis 1:1 in your Bible software, it should find your note on John 1:1-14. This is perfect for building a Bible zettelkasten-type system of personal Bible knowledge management.
Digital Bible Notes Can Be Searched
Speaking of search, the second advantage of digital Bible notes is their ability to be searched in a matter of seconds. Just imagine the process if you were to do this with your written notes. First, you would need to have some method of cataloging your information so you can find it. You’d then have to find the notebook, flip to the section, scan and find your reference. Now imagine doing that multiple times over. It would take forever. And that’s if you have an organized system of note taking.
With digital notes, you can perform the same search with little to no effort, because the computer does all the work for you. You don’t have to remember where or how you organized that note. All you need to remember is a word, phrase, or passage from your note and you can perform a search.
The ability to search your notes is such a time saver, especially if you are someone who makes a habit of referencing your notes on a regular basis.
You Have an Unlimited Canvas
One of the things I mentioned in the handwritten Bible notes tip is that with paper you are confined. You are limited to the size of paper you are working with and you only have a finite number of pages. This forces you to be concise with your words. While I stand by the benefit of being concise, digital Bible notes give you a practically unlimited canvas with which to work. You are not confined by the amount of space on a page or in a notebook. You can write to your heart’s content. This means you can brain dump. Whatever thoughts are in your head as you think about a given subject, you can write them down, knowing you can go back and edit them later.
You Can Copy & Paste Digital Bible Notes
Yet another advantage of digital Bible notes is the fact that you can copy & paste. You can apply this many ways.
While I am a proponent of outlining your thoughts before you write them, one thing you can do with digital notes is copy & paste to reorganize your thoughts. I do this often when writing these Bible study tips or writing a book. I move paragraphs and headings around to create a more cohesive flow. Doing this with Bible study notes is no different.
A second way copy & paste can be utilized is when copying text from other resources. For example, let’s say you are working in Logos Bible software and see a note in your commentary you want to copy. With handwritten Bible notes, you would have to meticulously copy the note by hand. This is quite laborious, especially if it’s a long note. With digital notes, it’s a matter of highlighting the text, copying, and pasting it into your note, often times with a full citation to boot. Depending on how you use your notes, this alone is a tremendous time saver.
You Can Use Any Device
I am someone who constantly switches between devices. One moment I’m on my Mac, the next moment I’m on my iPad, and then you might find me on my iPhone. But, as long as I have a device with me, I can make digital Bible notes. Even if I don’t have my primary note taking app available, I can write the note in something else and copy & paste it later. And given that I use all Apple devices, my notes typically sync across all my devices. This means they are always accessible no matter the device I’m using.
Imagine doing that with a handwritten note. First, it requires having my notebook with me, or something to write on. And it also requires something to write with. And if I don’t have my notebook, it means I’m writing on scratch paper, which may not be big enough to fit all I need to write. Then, I have to keep track of that piece of paper until I can transcribe it to my notebook later. Who wants to deal with that? I know I don’t!
Digital Bible Notes Can Be Backed Up
Finally, you can backup & store digital Bible notes in multiple places. Why is this important? Because physical notebooks can be lost or ruined.
Here’s a perfect example. A few months ago, my family made a cross country move from Washington to North Carolina. We had boxes of books shipped ahead of us, boxes that included Bibles and sentimental notes. In the process of transport, we lost several Bibles & notebooks that had important notes that will never be recovered.
Yet, with digital Bible notes you can make backups upon backups. With all my digital notes, I am not worried if my computer crashes or if I lose my phone. While my notes may be stored on those devices, I also keep backups of them in multiple places so I can quickly restore them. Plus, if you use Bible software, many of the applications do this for you automatically.
This came in handy because with one of the Bibles I lost in the move I had been copying each note to Logos Bible software. So, even though I no longer have the physical Bible, all the notes I made are safe & sound, at least from that one Bible.
Digital Bible Notes Supercharge Your Bible Study
There are advantages to handwritten Bible notes, but there are also just as many, if not more, advantages for taking digital Bible notes. The hyperlinks and searching alone are worth it by themselves. And the beauty of it is that you don’t have to use Bible software. You can even use a simple note taking app or text editor to take your notes. You lose some of the advantages, such as automatic verse linking, but you still maintain all the other benefits.
As a note taker, which do you prefer, handwritten or digital? My answer: both!