Why I use a period to separate Bible chapters and verses

In the US, a colon separates chapters and verses of the Bible, like this: John 3:16. That how I learned, too. But now I use a period instead of a colon. Why?

  1. That’s the normal way in Brazil, that the versions we use follow. (There are actually three ways of doing it: Catholics use a comma. Pentecostals, like Americans, use a colon. Other evangelicals and Protestants use a period.)
  2. Visually, it looks better. A period provides more white space between the numbers than a colon.
  3. The Brits also use a period. The Brits used to be cool, if not so much any more.
  4. I decided to standardize my practice across languages, and the period was the best candidate.
  5. Typing a period is also easier, one less keystroke, so I gain in time and energy.

Number 5 is the real biggie here. Speed and ease win, hands down.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

19 thoughts on “Why I use a period to separate Bible chapters and verses

    1. Would be interesting to read the history behind all these different practices.Where’s there ISO standard for Bible citations?

      1. MLA and APA are split on this issue. We clearly need one standard to make it simpler. Then we will have three standards.

    2. Okay, I came through search engine after seeing the period in academic settings and being confused, since I thought APA prescribed the colon. I read numbers 2 and 5 as “Numbers (Bəmiḏbar, 4th book of the Torah), chapters 2 and 5.”
      So I was looking for a clever pun as I just read the camp arrangement in the wilderness and the priest’s ritual for wives of suspicious husbands. I was confused.

  1. I was using the period to resemble earlier scholarly writings, and I was writing shorter abbreviations for Twitter, etc. I had to change back to the colon because academic writing requires a semicolon for the purpose of setting the Bible apart from all other literature. Honestly, I think that is a strong point for using the colon. Somehow, I think that I will manage to keep you in fellowship.

    1. Were the earlier writings from Brits, Scott? Hey, you could go to a UK school because of periods and colons.

          1. hahaha You and me both. Never dreamed this post would get any comments or attention. Almost threw it on the Plink page that nobody reads. 🙂

  2. Let’s see how that looks. John 3.16. Hummmmm. Interesting to say the least.

  3. Here’s a reason you didn’t mention: periods can be saved as part of a document’s file name, whereas colons cannot (e.g. I can save my sermon outline with 2 Kings 4.8-10, but I cannot save 2 Kings 4:8-10). That said, I still have not abandoned the colon…or the ellipsis…

What do you think?