Recently I retweeted a link to an article about using the Bible study notes feature in WORDsearch Bible Software (WORDsearch Blog). My Tweet stated, “Most important feature in any bible study app.” I was describing the Bible study note-taking feature available in most Bible software.
Some people might argue against that statement. Isn’t search more important? Maybe including commentaries it ranks ahead of notes. What about original language study?
Fundamentally, other features like search, language study or displaying eBooks ranks ahead of note-taking in Bible study software. No other key feature gets less attention from Bible study software publishers than Bible study notes. Most offer some kind of notes, but they usually don’t include features like…
- Automatic Bible reference hyperlinking
- Searching notes
- Formatting of text or paragraphs
- Exporting or printing
Bible software makers need to give their Bible study notes feature some attention because it can become one of the most important features in the program. If a Digital Bible student uses Bible software with good note-taking tools, then the tips below will turn them into Bible study note-taking power users.
Software with Bible Study Notes Option
Don’t buy Bible software without a good note-taking experience. What should buyers look for? Here’s my list of the bare minimum notes features.
Tie a note to a single verse, a passage, and a whole chapter
Some programs will tie the note to a single verse. Others to a chapter. A few can do both. The best programs give the user many options, including the ability to tie a note to a range of verses or even a single word/phrase. Programs that only tie notes to the whole chapter limit the usefulness. A chapter may include three different preaching texts. I don’t want the first passage’s notes to get in the way while I’m studying the first or second passage in that chapter. If your software only connects notes to a whole chapter, lobby the publisher to fix this or switch. Before buying a program find out if it does this and avoid those that do.
Automatic Bible reference hyperlinking
Most Bible software turns a Bible verse reference into a hyperlink. The user can click it to open to that Bible reference or hover their mouse over the link and a window or tooltip will pop up. If a program forces the user to select the text, click on a button on a toolbar or press a keystroke combination, and then type the reference into a dialog box, then the publisher just wasted that user’s time. The program should let me manually add links to other digital books in the program by selecting and typing in or pasting in a web address or Bible reference. For example, if I type “ch. 13” into a notes file and the paragraph context makes it obvious that I’m talking about chapter thirteen of the book of the Bible other than the one that notes file is attached to, then I should be able to manually add that reference if I want. If the notes feature doesn’t recognize that I typed John 3:16 and automatically add a hyperlink to John 3:16, then bug the publisher till they add it or don’t buy it in the first place.
The more a person uses the notes feature, the more this becomes necessary. Good programs check for spelling errors automatically and underline the mistakes so users can quickly see typos or spelling errors. The program won’t catch them all and may catch false positives, but that’s better than nothing. That’s why the programs should also include the ability to add words to the spell-check dictionary. A bonus would be the ability to easily correct it. I don’t know of a program that does auto-correct, but some do let the user right-click the mistake and it shows a list of optional corrections in a pop-up menu.
Text and Paragraph Formatting
Some programs only let a person enter simple text. The programs can’t make it bold or italicize it or can’t indent a paragraph or change its color. Some programs can’t use automatic number or bullet lists. Good notes editing boxes will include all of these features.
PAGE TWO: MORE FEATURES AND PROGRAMS: