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How to Cite the Bible

The Bible is a formidable opponent in the writing arena. Citing Bible verses comes will all types of questions. Do you need to know how to quote the Bible? Does it vary with each citation style? The list goes on and on. However, don’t sweat it. Breaking down how to cite the Bible in MLA 8, APA 7, and Chicago 17 for parenthetical and reference citations is as easy as ABC or NKJV (New King James Version)! 

Citation generator

How to Cite the Bible in MLA 8 Style

Designed for literature and liberal arts essays and papers, MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association. When citing the Bible in MLA, you will create both in-text and works cited citations. 

MLA Parenthetical Bible Citation

You will need to follow some unique rules when it comes to citing the Bible in MLA format. 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. Refer to these examples for how to quote Bible verses in your parenthetical citations.

  • In The New Oxford Annotated Bible, “Quote” (Ps. 25.4).
  • Psalm 25.4 states, “Quote” (The King James Version).
MLA: Translation in italics, Book abbreviated. Chapter. Verse

The New King James Version, Ps. 25.4


You might also find yourself needing to make an indirect quote of the Bible in MLA format. While it’s better to find the direct quote in the Bible itself, you can use “qtd. in” for a Bible quote made in another source in MLA format.

  • As it states, “Quote” (qtd. in Smith 22).

MLA Works Cited Bible Citation

MLA is one of the only styles that require you to reference a Bible in your works cited list. In MLA style, you’ll use the fundamental elements and container system for citing the Bible. 


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.

How to Cite Bible Verses in APA 7

APA is the American Psychological Association citation style for science subjects like psychology and physics. In APA 7 format, you now need to cite the Bible, like the New King James Version of the Bible, in-text, and in the reference list. Curious about citing the Bible in APA? Let’s see how it is done. 

APA Bible In-Text Citation

The APA quote citation indicates the translation, year and book chapter, verse. Follow these examples to understand how to quote the Bible in APA style.

  • “Quote” (The New King James Version, 2020, Psalm 25:4)
  • In Psalm 25:4 (The New King James Version, 2020), it says, “Quote.”
APA: Translation, Year, Book Chapter: Verse(s)

The New King James Version, 2020, Psalm 25:4


Much like MLA, APA also offers you a specific way to cite indirect quotes within your work. For APA, you include the Bible and date of publication “as cited in” then the citation information.

  • “Quote” (King James Version, 1604, as cited in Smith, 2020).

APA Bible Reference Citation

In the newest edition of APA formatting, you need to include a citation for the Bible on your reference page. 


Title of the Bible, the version. (Year). Publisher. URL (Original work published xxxx)


King James Bible. (2020). King James Bible Online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org

How to Cite Bible Verses in Chicago/Turabian Style

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) offers two different citation styles. You can use the author-date style or the notes-bibliography style. Much like APA, you don’t need to cite Bible verses in your references or bibliography. Additionally, the CMOS suggests directly quoting Bible verses in your text, even if they are found in other sources. 

Author-Date Bible Citation in Chicago

Since Turabian is the student version of Chicago style format, they typically follow the same style guide. In terms of how to quote the Bible in author-date style, quotation marks will be around the quoted material because it isn’t your material. 

In either the sentence or the citation, include the book, chapter, verse(s), and translation with the first mention. Use the standard abbreviations for the books, and place the citation 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).
Chicago/Turabian: Abbreviated Book. Chapter: Verse(s) Translation 

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


Chicago/Turabian Footnotes for Bible Citations

Chicago style includes footnotes. You add a superscript number in the body of the text. Typically, you place the superscript number after the punctuation mark, if possible. Then, include the citation for the footnote at the bottom of the page with the corresponding superscript number. The format of the footnote citation is below.


In the book of Psalms, it’s shown how…. according to God.1

Footnote Citation: 

1. Ps. 19:13-16 (NRSV)

Citing the Bible for a bibliography

Bible Footnotes for MLA and APA

MLA and APA styles opt for parenthetical citations rather than footnotes for sources. However, if you choose to include footnotes, you will have the superscript number like in Chicago style. The 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)

Citing 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 the next time you need to know how to quote Bible verses in your paper.

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