Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Bible text design

Publishers have improved the display of the Bible text over the years. I don't mind double columns, they allow a smaller overall Bible; still a single column Bible is preferable. It is many years since I have had a Bible with the text divided by verses; all Bibles should have paragraph format. Nevertheless, the chapter divisions are still quite apparent in modern Bibles. Chapters are often dropcaps 2 deep. There is no indent when chapters start a paragraph unlike the non-chapter paragraphs. In the uncommon situation where chapters do not start a paragraph the verse number "1" is included at the location of the chapter beginning.

Some prefer no verse or chapter divisions though numbers throughout the text have never bothered me. They are useful for reference but just need to be prevented from affecting the flow of the text.

Section headings are frequently included and can be helpful in locating a passage. As they are not part of the text they are often displayed in an alternative font. A bolded fontface makes them appear more important than they are.

What I would like to see is a paragraphed Bible where the verses and chapters are included but do not modify the flow. The best option it seems is to leave the verse numbers within the text (some Bibles remove them to the margins) and move the chapter numbers out of the text. A bolded chapter number the same size as the text is less noticeable than a 2 deep dropcap—bolded or unbolded.

A single column leaves page space on the other side of the text for section headings. Using a different font clearly differentiates the headings from the text. Italics may aid this though bolding will over emphasise the headings.

Further de-emphasising the references and headings can be accomplished by greying. An alternative option is the addition of colour which can be quite stylish though making these feature more prominent.

Here is a sample text which I think displays these features more optimally.

Genesis 14:17-15:6. ESV including section headings.

Paragraph indenting is double for poetry and 4 times for line overflow (not shown); no further indenting for parallel verses. Slightly greater line spacing.

The Bible text font is Calisto, as are the chapter numbers and verse numbers. Chapter numbers are the same size as text and bolded. Chapter and verse numbers are 50% grey. The section heading font is italicised Arial; 65% grey.

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