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Citation & Format Guide: Bible

Citing the Bible

Within the body of your text, books of the Bible are generally spelled out. Do not abbreviate, italicize or underline.

  • According to Genesis 1:27, God created man in his own image.

If referencing in the body of your text a list of Biblical references, then abbrevations may be used.

  • My concordance lists five instances of the word nourish: Gen. 47:12, Ruth 4:15, Isa. 44:14, Acts 7:21, and 1 Tim. 4:6.

Abbreviations may also be used in footnotes as follows:

  1. For abbreviations of the Hebrew Bible see CMOS 10.45
  2. For abbreviations of the Apocrypha see CMOS 10.46
  3. For abbreviations of the New Testament see CMOS 10.47
  4. For abbreviations of versions and sections of the Bible see CMOS 10.48

Chicago Style includes two types of abbreviations for books of the Bible, you can select either form but be consistent in your usage.

In-Text or Parenthetical Citation

References to scripture can appear in the body of your text  with parenthetical citation. 

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you" (Isa. 26:3 NRSV).

Include the version of the Bible you are using the first time you reference a chapter and verse.  There is no need to include the version after. If citing from multiple versions, then include the version after each citation.

If you reference the name of a biblical book in your text, do not italicize, underline or abbreviate the title.

Genesis is the first book of the Hebrew Bible.


To cite scripture in a footnote, include the following:

Abbreviate book name Chapter #:Verse #  (Name or abbreviation of translation)

Cite chapter and verse in arabic numerals, no page numbers should be provided. A colon is used between the chapter and verse. When referencing consecutive verses, separate the first and last verse numbers by an en dash, not a hyphen. When citing multiple passages from the same biblical book, use a semicolon to separate the passages.List the passages in canonical and numerical order.

For example:

1 Thess. 4:11, 5:2–5, 5:14 (New Revised Standard Version)

Matt 2:3; 3:4–6; 4:3, 7; Luke 3:6, 8; 12:2, 5 (NRSV)

If you're using the same version of the Bible, you can insert a note as follows after the first scripture footnote:

All subsequent scripture quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise stated.

Shortened Footnote

Thess. 4:11 (NRSV)


When referencing notes from a study Bible, do not treat these as part of the Bible. When citing such notes, or any of the accompanying articles, include all the information from the specific study Bible you consulted.


#. David L. Petersen, “Ezekiel,” in The HarperCollins Study Bible Fully Revised and Updated: New Revised Standard Version, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, ed. Harold W. Attridge et al. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), 1096. 

Shortened footnote

Petersen, “Ezekiel,” 1096.


Petersen, David L. “Ezekiel.” Pages 1096-1167 in The HarperCollins Study Bible Fully Revised and Updated, New Revised Standard Version, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. Edited by Harold W. Attridge et al. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006. 

Biblical Reference - Additional Resources

For more detailed information on referencing material from the Bible, please consult the Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed.