Digital Bible Study Using a Tablet & Stylus (or iPad & Apple Pencil)


I love writing in my Bible.  

Some people say that writing in God's Word is disrespectful, and I can appreciate that point of view.  But for me, I engage more fully with any text or book when I'm highlighting it, taking notes, underlining words and writing down personal insights.

That means my Bible is ... well, messy.  And bulky.  Carrying it around can get cumbersome.  And don't even get me started on the pens, pencils, sticky notes & highlighters that I carry around with it.

When I discovered hyperlinked Bible PDFs, I found the perfect solution.  In combination with my Samsung tablet (S7 FE), an S Pen, and a PDF annotation app, I can mark up my Bible anytime, anywhere, without lugging around a massive Bible and a stationary store.

I currently use the Digital Journaling Bible by Yours Truly Printables, and it is absolutely amazing in it's layout and usability.  

*If you're just testing the waters, take a look at the Remarkable Bible  to see if a digital Bible is for you.

To highlight and write on any Bible PDF (or any other pdf for that matter), you'll need to use a PDF annotation app.  For iPad users, try GoodNotes.  For Android users, use Samsung Notes or Penly.  

(Side note - While Samsung Notes is much better for many other use-cases, often it struggles with really large pdfs.  Penly handles larger pdfs really well, making it ideal for most pdf Bibles.)

With my Samsung tablet, I like to open my main Bible in Penly.  Then, I can open up a reference Bible or Bible dictionary with Samsung Notes in Pop-Up mode.  

Seven reasons why I love using a digital Bible on my tablet:

1. Less things to carry around.

All I really need to bring with me is my tablet and S Pen.  Of course, I always end up carrying my water bottle, charging cables, back up battery, keyboard and everything else ... but I don't need to.

2. Import images, maps, and other reference material from the internet.

I love looking at maps and historical references for context, depending on the passage I'm reading.  Today I was looking up the temple in Ezekiel's vision, and found a ton of helpful information that really extended my understanding of the passages I was reading.  I can literally copy & paste images or quotes from anywhere online, and place them right inside my Bible.  The next time I'm reading through that passage, I'll have those extra items right there!

3. Erase or correct anything I write or highlight.

I actually consider correction tape (ie. White Out) an essential part of my Bible highlighter & pen collection.  I use it quite often, because I'll get ahead of myself when writing in my physical Bible and make a spelling mistake, or draw an arrow to the wrong verse.  But by using my pdf Bible on my tablet, I can easily erase or undo any mistakes that I do.  I can even move my handwriting around to line it up more closely with the passage it applies to, or to make more room for more writing.

4. Access a whole library of reference material offline.

I have downloaded pdfs of study Bibles, Bible dictionaries and commentaries.  Anytime I'd like to look up something, I just open up Samsung Notes in Pop-Up view and it's right there.  The best part?  Even when I'm not connected to the internet, I can still open up my downloaded pdfs!

5. Add extra note pages anywhere.

One of the biggest limitations of a physical Bible is that when you run out of margin space, you run out of places to put notes.  Hence my sticky notes, tabs and inserts (ala Faith Womack, of How to Faith a Life 😉).  When I'm using my digital Bible on my tablet, I can add extra pages anywhere.  Or, I can zoom in and write really small, so that more fits on the page.

6. Large text any page.

When did 7 point text get so small?  I feel like they've secretly made Bible text smaller over the last several years ... or maybe I'm just getting older?  

Either way, now I don't have to admit defeat by needing to order the large text copy of my favourite physical Bible.  I can just zoom in and out as needed, all on my tablet!  I love being able to zoom in and focus on the single verse that the pastor is preaching on, and then zoom back out to read the rest of the passage.

7. Share your Bible between your devices.

I use Samsung everything, so that means I can easily access my Bible and notes across devices.  When I'm using Penly, I need to sync everything manually.  When I'm using Samsung Notes (for reference material, daily planning, etc), everything is synced and updated automatically from my tablet, to my phone, to my computer.  (For the iPad users out there, I believe GoodNotes does the same thing across your Apple devices.)

I'd love to hear from you!

Which do you prefer when it comes to using the Bible and other books: physical or digital?


  1. Penly costs $$ .... is there a free app I can use with a digital bible?

    1. Yes, there sure is! You can try Samsung Notes if you have a Samsung. Other free Android apps like Xodo or Noteshelf are great. You could also try Touchnotes or Jnotes, although I don't have much experience with them myself. For an iPad, Goodnotes is the standard. Notability is also a good option.

    2. Penly is worth it, even though it does cost a little bit! What device are you using?

  2. I'm using a Samsung S6 lite ... I've been playing with Samsung Notes because it's free, but I'll give Penly a try. I don't mind spending a few dollars, I don't think it costs that much.


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