Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

How to Cite the Bible in APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago


The bible is a formidable opponent when it comes to writing. How are you supposed to cite the different elements? How does it vary with each style? The list of questions goes on and on. However, don’t sweat it. Breaking down how to cite the Bible is as easy as A, B, C.

Citing the Bible for a bibliography

First In-Text Citation or Parenthetical Reference

There are different places that you might choose to cite the bible, and in-text or parenthetically  is one of them. Looking at how to break down each style makes it easier. After the first reference, you’ll remove the translation.

Book Chapter: Verse(s), Translation

Psalms 26:1, The New King James Version


Translation in italics, Book abbreviated. Chapter. Verse

The New King James Version, Ps. 26.1


Abbreviated Book. Chapter: Verse(s) Translation 

1 Cor. 6:11-19 New Revised Standard Version
1 Cor. 6:11-19 NRSV


Book of Bible Chapter: Verse(s

Psalms 26:1



Citing a Bible Quote

Just like every word has its own arrangement, each different style has its own way to set up a quote. Look at each in turn to figure out the proper way to quote in your style.


The APA quote citation will be in italics along with the book chapter, verse and translation.

  • “Quote” (Psalm 25:4, The New King James Version)
  • In Psalm 25:4 (The New King James Version) it says, “Quote.”


MLA format has some unique rules when using this format for quotes. Typically, you don’t italicize or underline different versions of the Bible, but you will italicize individual editions of the bible like The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

  • In The New Oxford Annotated Bible, “Quote” (Ps. 25.4).
  • Psalm 25.4 states, “Quote” (The King James Version).


Since Turabian is the student version of Chicago, they typically follow the same format. Quotation marks will be around the quoted material because it isn’t your material. Either in the sentence or the citation include the book, chapter, verse(s) and translation in the first mentioning. The books will be abbreviated, and the citation will be placed at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • Jesus said, “Quote” (John 8:31–32 KJV).
  • “Quote,” as illustrated by God (Ps. 25:1 KJV).


The Harvard style includes the quote and the citation. However, if you are quoting whole chapters, you’ll want to separate them with a hyphen.

  • “Quote” (John 8:31).
  • “Quote chapter” (John 8-10)

Citing in the Footnotes

MLA, APA and Harvard styles opt to use parenthetical citations rather than using footnotes for sources. However, if you do use footnotes in the text, you include a superscript number in the body of the text. Typically, this is included after the punctuation mark, if possible. The citation for the footnote will be found at the bottom of the page with a corresponding superscript number. Citation will follow the parenthetical citation in most instances. 


  • In Text: In the book of John, it is shown that …. according to God.1
  • Citation: 1John 8:31 (King James Standard Version)


Chicago Style does include footnotes. The format of the citation for footnotes is a bit unique. For example:

  1. Ps. 19:13-16 (NRSV)
  2. Ps. 25:1 (KJV)

Formatting Works Cited

MLA and Harvard are the only styles that require you to reference a bible in your works cited. Each one has a unique format.


Works cited reference looks like:

  • Title of the Bible, the version. Editor. Publication place: Publisher, Year. 


Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Full ref. ed. Kenneth L. Barker, gen. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.


A reference in Harvard takes the format:

  • The Holy Bible: Translation Year of Publication, Publisher, Place of Publication


The Holy Bible: New International Version 1998, New American Library, New York, NY.


Holy Words

Biblical references can come into play in all different types of professional writing and essays. Now that you know what you’re doing, try it for yourself.

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About the author

Jennifer Betts

Jennifer Betts is a diverse educational writer who has been published in multiple online forums. She also works part time as a substitute teacher with seven different school districts. Building on skills gained from a brother and son with learning disabilities, she has been a tutor and mentor for disadvantaged children for more than 20 years. Interested in learning more about Jennifer Betts, just ask.

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