How to Cite the Bible in Chicago Style | Format & Abbreviations

The Bible is cited differently from other books in Chicago style. Biblical citations can appear either in the text, in parentheses, or in Chicago footnotes or endnotes, but the Bible is not included in your bibliography or reference list.

A Bible citation always includes the book, chapter, and verse. It sometimes also includes the version of the Bible you are using.

Chicago Bible citation examples
In the text In Job 4:8 (NIV), Eliphaz states that “those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.”
In a parenthetical citation Eliphaz tells Job that “those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it” (Job 4:8 [NIV]).
In a footnote 1. Job 4:8 (NIV).

Referring to the Bible in your text

Unlike other book titles, the Bible should not be italicized, but it should always be capitalized:

As stated in the Bible…

The same applies to individual books of the Bible and to the names of the Old and New Testaments:

The story of the creation of the world is recounted in Genesis.
The New Testament focuses on the story of Jesus Christ.

Abbreviating books of the Bible

When referred to in running text, books of the Bible need not be abbreviated:

In Genesis 1:1, God creates the heavens and the earth.

However, abbreviations should be used when a Bible citation appears in parentheses or in a note. There are two widely used abbreviation styles: traditional abbreviations and shorter abbreviations.

In the traditional abbreviations, some shorter names are not abbreviated, and a period appears after all names that are abbreviated.

In the shorter abbreviations, all names are abbreviated, usually to two or three letters, and no period is used.

Traditional abbreviations Shorter abbreviations
James 1:4
Rev. 3:5
Gen. 1:14
Jas 1:4
Rv 3:5
Gn 1:14

Use one or the other consistently, not a mix of the two. A full list of the traditional and shorter abbreviations for each book can be found here.

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Versions of the Bible

Bible verse and chapter numbering, as well as the text itself, vary between different versions, so it’s important to specify which version you are citing.

This doesn’t mean identifying the specific publisher, but rather which version of the Bible text they are using. For example, with the Oxford World’s Classics edition of the Authorized King James Bible, you’d specify “Authorized Version,” not “Oxford University Press” or similar.

Include the Bible version in parentheses after your citation:

Gen. 4:9 (American Standard Version)

If it is part of a parenthetical citation, put the version in square brackets instead:

(Gen. 4:9 [American Standard Version])

Citing from only one Bible version

If you cite from the same Bible version throughout your text, you can note this with your first citation and then leave out the version in subsequent citations:

Footnotes example

1. Gen. 4:9 (Hebrew Bible; all subsequent citations are from this version).
2. Job 4:5.

Citing from multiple Bible versions

If you cite from multiple different versions of the Bible, specify which version with each citation, but use abbreviations for the second and subsequent citations of each version:

Footnotes example

1. Gen. 4:9 (Hebrew Bible).
2. Job 4:5 (HB).
3. Mark 1:2 (English Revised Version).

Information on standard abbreviations for various Bible versions can be found here.

Citing multiple verses or chapters

If a citation refers to multiple verses or chapters, use an en dash to indicate the range:

Gen. 25:18–36:23

When citing a range of verses within one chapter, do not repeat the chapter number:

  • Thess. 5:2–5:4
  • Thess. 5:2–4
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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr and reads a lot of books in his spare time.


Adam Shepard
May 28, 2021 at 5:16 AM

Mr. Caulfield,

I have a question regarding bible citation in Chicago Style formatting. I understand that though the name of the specific book, chapter and verse, and version of the bible need to be added as a footnote if used, but why is it not entered in the bibliography? Is it because it is considered public knowledge? I am just curious since everything else I cite in my footnotes must be included in the bibliography. Thank you.

Adam Shepard


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
May 31, 2021 at 4:00 PM

Hi Adam,

Chicago doesn't specifically state why this is, but it's a common standard across various different citation styles. To the best of my understanding, it's just because the Bible is a very commonly cited source that comes in thousands of different editions but has standardized divisions (book, chapter, verse) and is readily available online. This makes it easy to recognize a Bible citation as long as it includes that information, so a bibliography entry is unnecessary.


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