Thomas Nelson NKJV Full-Color Study Bible Personal Size review – Rating: 9.3

Thomas Nelson Personal Size NKJV Study Bible Full-Color Edition

Thomas Nelson Personal Size NKJV Study Bible Full-Color Edition

I have been wanting to get a copy of The NKJV Full Color Study Bible for quite some time, so when this one became available for review from Thomas Nelson’s BookLook Bloggers Program (Harper Collins Publishiners), I jumped at the chance. This one is the Personal Size version which means it is a little smaller in size as well as the printed font size. Nonetheless, after seeing the advertisements for the content of this Bible, I was ready to get any version I could get my hands on. In this review, I will be evaluating the physical makeup of this study Bible, the study tools and features as well as comparing it to the claims made on the back cover stating that it’s “The most comprehensive study Bible available”.

In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by Thomas Nelson or BookLook Bloggers to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



**See all sections below for full detailed review**

Honestly, I was very excited to get a copy of the full color NKJV Study Bible even though it is a paperback version as well as Personal Size. I normally prefer the fuller size Bibles and as many of you know, I also have a preference for the leather-bound Bibles. But this review is of the paperback Personal Size edition of this Study Bible.

With that said, this really is an excellent Study Bible for the price and for the size. The Study tools are very well done, and I feel that it does do a nice job helping you to understand the Word better. One of my more appreciated features in this Study Bible is probably a portion of the Book Introductions where for each book, they have a section called “Christ in the Scriptures” where it reveals the different teachings and pictures of Christ within each book. Very impressive as I feel often times, we can overlook how the entire Bible points to what Christ did for us – even in the Old Testament.

This Study Bible has the largest concordance that I have ever seen printed in a Bible – it is 195 pages long. Most others seem to have anywhere from 40 to 80 pages or so on average.

The color and design of this Bible is very pleasing and easy to use. This Bible is printed on pretty good opaque paper but does have a small amount of show through due to the full color portions, but it was not overly distracting for me personally. I find this show through to be fairly typical of a majority of the full-color bibles in general.

For some people, the font size could likely be too small since it is 7 point, in which case, I would recommend the full size edition of The Full-Color NKJV Study Bible as it has a slightly larger font at 8 point. That’s not a lot larger font, but for some, that one extra point size might make a difference.

This Personal Size edition is easy to use and compact so it feels good in the hands. Overall, I would say this is a very nice study Bible (even though it is paperback) – especially if you are looking for one on the less expensive side. This is one that I would recommend, especially if you like the NKJV translation.

I received this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


Type of Bible: Study Bible
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publish Date: May 17, 2016
ISBN-13 of Bible Reviewed: 978-0718081980
Bible Version: NKJV – New King James Version
Price: At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this Study Bible from is They have it for $19.99 – suggested retail from the publisher is $29.99. Please note that these prices do not include any potential shipping charges.

If you would like to purchase this book, please support my blog and purchase by clicking any of the links to on this page like the one below.  If you want it in a different format, Click Here for those links listed below in this review.

081980: The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Trade Paper The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Trade Paper
By Thomas Nelson


Physical Characteristics:

  • Guaranteed for Life (click here for guarantee details)
  • Paperback
  • Full color throughout text (study notes and many other resources)
  • Glued back (perfect bound)
  • No ribbon markers in this paperback version
  • No thumb indexing
  • No gilding
  • No rounded corners
  • Double Column format
  • Words of Christ in red text
  • Not self-pronouncing text (accent marks to help pronounce places and people’s names)
  • Center column cross-references *see sections below on some excellent features of the cross references
  • 2,400 pages
  • Type size looks like it is about a 7 point font for the text and 6 point for the study notes, which might be too small for some people
  • Dimensions: 5.2″ wide x 8″ high x 2″ thick
  • Approximate weight: 2.7 lbs – and it feels pretty heavy in the hand
  • Printed in China


Pre-Scripture Text Pages

  • 1 page of a Presentation page (typical basic one: Presented To, By and Date & Occasion)
  • 2 page Foreword that describes the different features in this Study Bible
  • 1 page of Table of Contents
  • 2 pages of Editors and Contributors
  • 1 page of Special Abbreviations
  • 5 pages of Preface to the New King James Version – This is the typical “letter” from the translators
  • 3 pages of How to Understand What the Bible Means by What It Says
  • 1 page of Books of the Old and New Testaments – includes Book name, abbreviation and starting page number
  • 2 pages of Articles which is an index of over 100 different articles that are included in this Study Bible
  • 2 pages of Bible Times and Culture Notes which is an index of the 150 different cultural notes included in this Study Bible
  • 2 pages of Charts and Diagrams – index of the 80 different charts and drawings included in this Study Bible
  • 2 pages of In-Text Maps – index of the different maps that are included within the text of this Study Bible
  • 5 pages of Word Studies – index of the 350 different Word Studies that are included in this Study Bible – arranged by book.

Scripture Text Pages

  • Book Introduction
    • Each book starts off with a nice summary page introduction that includes:
      • Quick summary paragraph of what the book is about
      • Information about the Author of the book
      • Approximate time when the book was written
      • The major theme or Principal Message of the book
      • Some books have Literary form (like poetry books for example)
      • Christ in the Scriptures
      • A fairly high-level outline of the book
  • Thomas Nelson NKJV Study Bible introduction to the book of 2nd Corinthians
Introduction to the Book of 2nd Corinthians on page 1852 to 1854

Introduction to the Book of 2nd Corinthians on page 1852 to 1854

  • Study Notes
    • Study Notes are the typical verse-by-verse that you see in a majority of the Study Bibles. There are over 15,000 different study notes or annotations providing explanations, theological insights and other references directing your study to similar topics or scriptures.
Study Notes example on page 1575

Study Notes example on page 1575

  • Time Lines
    • Most of the book introductions also have Timelines helping to put the time of the book within historical perspective
Example of Book Introduction Vertical time line in Philippians on page 1901

Example of Book Introduction Vertical time line in Philippians on page 1901

  • Articles
    • There are over 100 articles that cover doctrinal details that go beyond what the normal study notes cover.
Example Article "A Sobering Object Lesson" on page 1175

Example Article “A Sobering Object Lesson” on page 1175

  • Bible Times and Culture Notes
    • They have included 150 notes that focus specifically on Bible times and the cultural context of the Scriptures helping you to understand God’s Word much better.
The City of Ephesus Bible Times & Culture Notes on page 1891

The City of Ephesus Bible Times & Culture Notes on page 1891

  • Charts and Diagrams
    • There are over 80 different charts throughout the Study Bible giving insight to many different topics
Example portion from Harmony of the Gospels on page 1505

Example portion from Harmony of the Gospels on page 1505

  • Word Studies
    • 350 different word studies are included in this Bible. These help to provide some further understanding of specific words in Scripture. It includes the Strong’s numbers for reference purposes as well.
Word Study: Propitiation on page 1801

Word Study: Propitiation on page 1801

Word Study: Law on page 953

Word Study: Law on page 953

  • Cross References
    • The cross references at first appear like normal cross references that you see in any Bible, however there are some differences.
      • First, the cross-reference area has a gray background that makes it very easy to differentiate the cross references from other portions of the page.
      • Next, you will find something that I really appreciated the efforts of the publisher. You will see actually gives a way to use the cross references to see prophecy about the Messiah in other ares of Scripture and shows where those prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This really is very nicely done, but it is very subtle unless you’re looking for it. For me, it almost felt like finding a hidden gem 🙂
      • **See my section below related to the NKJV Translators’ Footnotes as well**
Cross Reference Example for Luke 23:18 on page 1674 referencing Isaiah with prophecy "stars" filled in.

Cross Reference Example for Luke 23:18 on page 1674 referencing Isaiah with fulfilled prophecy “stars” filled in.

Cross Reverence example for Isaiah 53:3 on page 1137 showing the star outline for prophecy

Cross Reverence example for Isaiah 53:3 on page 1137 showing the star outline for prophecy to be fulfilled

  • Subject Headings
    • Nothing you haven’t seen before in almost every Study Bible. These Subject Headings are nicely called out in a larger font that is dark blue calling it out to differentiate between the heading and the Scripture text.
Example of the Subject Headings on page 1930

Example of the Subject Headings on page 1930

  • One thing that I really like that they did is how they did a pseudo-Harmony of the Gospels with these subject headings. For example, for the Rich Young Ruler, we see on page 1594 in Mark chapter 10 how it also references in blue text the other areas in the Gospels where the story of the Rich Young Ruler is told (Mat 19:16-22 and Luke 18:18-23). Nicely done!
Subject Heading example for the Rich Young Ruler on page 1594

Subject Heading example for the Rich Young Ruler on page 1594

  • Words of Christ in red
    • The Words of Christ are done in a red font and fairly easy to read, although I would not say that the red font stands out as well as it probably could. Only an issue if you are a person that is adamant about seeing the Words of Christ in a very clear difference between His Words and the normal Scripture text.
Example of the Words of Jesus Christ in Red on page 1731

Example of the Words of Jesus Christ in Red on page 1731

  • New King James Version translators’ footnotes
    • The typical footnotes from the translators for the New King James Version are in this Bible, but it might be a little confusing to some that are looking for them. Normally, the translators’ footnotes are at the bottom of the Scripture text near or at the bottom of the page.  In this Study Bible, the publisher actually included the translator’s footnotes in the center column along with the cross references. Once you know to look for it, it will likely make sense, but initially, I thought they didn’t include them since they were not in the normal spot in the footer of the Scripture text area which is where most other Bibles have them. Either case, they are there if you use them (yes, I do often reference the translators’ notes in my Bibles).  I’m not convinced I like this way of doing it because you have to more carefully read through the cross references to see the footnotes.
Translators' notes on page 1595 for verses Mark 10:29 and 10:34

Translators’ notes on page 1595 for Mark 10:29 and 10:34

  • Full-color Maps
    • This Study Bible has in-text full-color maps to help give some reference point to the topic within the Study Notes. These maps are very clean and easy to use. Some people might find the type on the maps a little hard to read in some circumstances though.
Example Map of Jesus in Galilee on page 1700

Example Map of Jesus in Galilee on page 1700


Post-Scripture Text Pages

  • 3 pages of Table of Monies, Weights, and Measures
    • Fairly typical chart which covers monies, weights, measures of length, dry measures and liquid measures. This series of charts actually open up with some history and cultural background related to the monies of the time, which I find very helpful.
  • 3 pages of the Teachings and Illustrations of Christ
    • Topical chart includes references so you can easily find the different teachings and illustrations that Christ used in the different Gospels.
Example of Teachings and Illustrations on pages 2108 to 2109

Example of Teachings and Illustrations on pages 2108 to 2109

  • 6 pages of the Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Jesus Christ
    • Another very handy chart that points out the different prophecies in the Old Testament about Christ and how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. This actually is a nice follow-up to the star concept the publisher used for the Cross References where they show the prophecies and where they were fulfilled. Very nicely done.
Example of Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Jesus Christ on page 2115

Example of Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Jesus Christ on page 2115

  • 1 page for The Parables of Jesus Christ
    • A complete list of the parables of Jesus in chart form including Bible references as to where they are covered
  • 1 page for The Miracles of Jesus Christ
    • A chart that displays a list of Jesus’ miracles and references across the different Gospels that talks about them
  • 1 page for Prayers of the Bible
    • A very nice chart that covers the different prayers that are recorded in the Bible which is grouped and sorted by the person praying, the focus of the prayer and also the location of that prayer in the Scriptures.
  • 25 pages for Subject Index to Annotations and Features
    • This is a very handy tool that helps you to find the different items related to the topic, whether it is a specific Scripture reference, Map, Word Study, Chart, etc. Nicely laid out and easy to use.
Example of Subject Index to Annotations and Features on page 2138

Example of Subject Index to Annotations and Features on page 2138

  • 195 page concordance
    • Granted, if you’re a serious Bible study person, you probably have a separate concordance like Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance or something similar. However, I think this is likely the most extensive concordance that I have personally seen in any Bible or Study Bible. Very impressive!
Example of Concordance on page 2280

Example of Concordance on page 2280

  • 4 pages for Map Index and Maps
    • This lists out the name of locations that are displayed on the Additional Full-Color Maps in the last part of this Study Bible. Makes it nice to find locations easily in these 13 maps.
  • Additional full-color maps
    • These are very similar maps that are found in the Thomas Nelson Hardcover NKJV Foundation Study Bible that I did a review on last year, however they have additional maps in this version that Thomas Nelson did not have in many of their earlier Study Bibles. The new ones are marked with an asterisk.
      • World of the Patriarchs
      • *2 page map of the Holy Land and Sinai
      • Exodus and Conquest of Canaan
      • Land of the Twelve Tribes
      • Kingdom of David and Solomon
      • *Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
      • *Prophets in Israel and Judah
      • *Assyrian and Babylonian Empires
      • *Holy Land in the Time of Jesus
      • Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus
      • Jesus’ Ministry
      • *Apostles’ Early Travels
      • 2-pages of Paul’s Missionary Journeys
      • *Roman Empire
Example map of Prophets in Israel and Judah on page 2352

Example map of Prophets in Israel and Judah on page 2352



This is the portion of my review where I get to tell you about how I like or dislike this Bible in a detailed manner. What I typically try to do is do a quick glance over the entire Bible at a very high level to get a feel for it. Then I will go more in-depth in a shorter book such as Philippians so I am comparing the same thing from Bible to Bible. My hopes are that this approach provides a certain consistency to my reviews.


Ease of Use:

I would say that this Study Bible is actually extremely easy to use. I’m not going to go into the readability of this version vs. that version. The tools and layout/design of this Bible are done in a very pleasing manner. The extra-biblical reference materials and commentary do have a very natural flow to them and are extremely helpful for a reader to understand more about what God is trying to convey to us through His Word.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative:

There really are quite a lot of Study Notes and tools including articles, maps, word studies, charts, etc. It also has an amazing concordance compared to many other Bibles I have looked at. I really do like how the publishers did an index to allow readers to quickly find some of these study tools by topic. Maps are designed very nicely in color, however some people may find that on some of the maps, the font size might make it hard for some people to read without some kind of magnifying tool. Book Introductions are actually very practical and helpful and really are beautifully designed as well.


Modern Life Study Bible NKJV

Modern Life Study Bible NKJV (Gospels only)

I was pleasantly surprised again by Thomas Nelson for doing this for this Bible as well as one other that I reviewed.  You get a free gift with purchase of Study Bible – it’s a PDF version of Thomas Nelson’s The Modern Life Study Bible (all 4 Gospels) NKJV.  Make sure you look at the back cover or box to see the URL to download your free gift.

Just looking at the 4 Gospels, it looks like the Modern Life Study Bible is a very nice Study Bible.  You may want to check it out as well.  If you look on Amazon (and likely other sites), you can get a preview of the contents.  Note that this free PDF download only contains the 4 Gospels and do not include any other books of the Bible.

Thomas Nelson is giving it to you for free. VERY impressive, Thomas Nelson… Very impressive!

NOTE: I do not know if it will always be this particular download that is available, but this is what it was when I used the link. Please leave me a comment if you purchase the NKJV Full-Color Study Bible and the free gift is something else so I can update this post.

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth:

From the quick glance through hitting multiple random commentaries, it does seem to have solid Study Notes.  Of course I did not look at every single one for purposes of this review, but the ones that I did look at were solid and well done.

Durability of Bible:

As I have said many times in my reviews, I have a personal preference toward leather-bound books. This Bible is not leather-bound… it’s not even hard-cover. It’s a paperback Bible. So, I won’t make any promises as to how it will hold up for you. If you take care of it and don’t throw it in a book bag or toss it down somewhere, but are somewhat careful with it, you should do fine for quite a while. However, if you are concerned with durability, you might want to consider getting the full-sized edition which is not paperback. At the bottom of this review, I have the ISBN numbers of those editions that you can look for on any online retailer or get from your local Bible store/supplier.

Lifetime Guarantee:

According to the Thomas Nelson does have a lifetime guarantee on this Bible as shown on the back page of the dust cover. You can see more about their guarantee here.

Typeface and Print:

Scriptures are a smaller 7 point font, which considering this is a personal sized Study Bible, there really isn’t a good way around that without making the Bible too thick to be easily used. If size is a concern to you, you may want to consider getting the full-sized edition instead of the personal sized one that I am reviewing here. The content of the full-sized edition will be the same, just a slightly larger text font at 8 point.

The study notes are a tad smaller in point size (looks like a 6 point font), but it is done in a very clean and easy to read font if you don’t mind the smaller font size.

Scripture text and the commentary text are very clearly separated by how they designed the layout with a orange-ish horizontal line separating the two areas.

If you are a note-taker, either learn to write microscopically or don’t use this Bible for your note taking. There isn’t much room at all to take notes. You might have about 1/2″ in the margins at most.

Paper used for this Bible is a fairly opaque paper, but you will see some show through on the full-color photos and text boxes. It’s not horrible by any means and honestly at my initial look through with this Bible I didn’t notice it right away until I was specifically looking for show through issues.  I wouldn’t say that personally the show through is bad enough for me to knock any points off.  It’s pretty typical of a full-color Bible to have some show through due to the full color boxes and pictures used.

The line-matching (printed lines on the front of the page vs. the back side of the page) aren’t lined up very well, but it isn’t the worst I’ve seen either. However, with that said, the opacity of the paper is probably good enough that I wouldn’t knock down my rating like I have in some other Bibles that I have reviewed in the past. As I stated, the biggest show through that you will notice is going to be the full-color areas.

Full color maps in the back and normal print throughout this Study Bible is very good.


Ease of Use:

Reading and studying in Philippians and is actually very easy and pleasing to do with how the publisher designed this Study Bible. The book introduction and the study notes are all are done very nicely and actually do a very good job helping you to understand the culture and times in which Philippians was written. There is some very good information to help you understand more about the actual city of Philippi as well.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative:

The 4 page book introduction for Paul’s letter to the Philippians is excellent and gives some wonderful background to the writing of the letter, the literary structure of the letter, and the general themes of the letter. As I mentioned previously, I really appreciate how the publishers did a section on “Christ in the Scriptures” where you learn about the teachings of Christ in the book of Philippians. Typical high level outline as expected in most book introductions is included as well. Also, for Philippians, it gives a very nice graphic map/drawing about Philippi in the time of Paul with some excellent cultural and background information. The study notes flow very nicely and are formatted like the typical study notes you see in most Study Bibles. Very detailed in this one and very helpful. If you like study notes, you won’t be disappointed with this Bible. As I stated in my opening paragraph, I would also rate this Study Bible on the publisher’s claim that this “Study Bible is the most comprehensive Study Bible available…”. In my opinion, it may not be the very top one, but in the ones that I have seen and/or reviewed to date, I would say it is definitely in the top 2 or 3 for sure.

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth:

The commentary in Philippians does seem to be pretty solid. I would say it seems to be very helpful.



Below, we have the overall ratings that I would give to this particular Bible with a 1 to 10 range. Keep in mind that when I am doing these ratings, it is based on the physical makeup, format, extra-biblical content and value of the Bible, not rating the Word of God itself as that would be off the chart 🙂
Quality: 8.0 – Well, it is paperback after all. If I get my hands on a leather-bound (full-sized) copy of the Full Color NKJV Study Bible. then I will do a review on that one and likely will increase the quality rating I gave this one. With that said, with proper care, this paperback Study Bible can give you multiple years of excellent use.
Appearance: 9.8 – I really think that Thomas Nelson did a fantastic job on the design of this Study Bible. The color scheme, layout and general design really make it a pleasure to use. It really has just a nice feel and look to the content. Very well done!
Value: 9.4 – I am rating the value high based on the fact that the content, design and ease of use is so excellent. But also, the fact that the paperback version of this Study Bible is really not very expensive, thus making the value of it a little higher than I would normally rate a paperback Bible of any kind. You might say that I am biased to the value based on the content alone… you would most likely be correct in that statement. 🙂
Innovation: 9.4 – Don’t forget to look at the back of the dust cover – they have a website link that has some good reading plans and study resources available to you. I also really did like they way that they handled the prophecy being fulfilled regarding the Messiah. It really is laid out very nice for an inexpensive hardcover Study Bible.)
Other/Wildcard: 9.7 – The reason that I am going to rate the Innovation so high for this Study Bible is that they give you a free digital download of the Modern Life Study Bible (4 Gospels) in a PDF format. Nice to get a free gift from Thomas Nelson! Well played, Thomas Nelson… well played!

Overall Rating: 9.3 out of 10


Bible Formats and Options:

Here are some of the different formats that this Bible comes in per the publisher as well as links to the Publisher’s page for each of them. You can simply Google the ISBN number to find where you can get your desired version:


ISBN: 978-0718081980 (The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback – This Review)
ISBN: 978-0718081997 (The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0718082031 (The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Imitation Leather, Pink/Gray)


ISBN: 978-0718040390 (NKJV Study Bible, Imitation Leather, Brown/Navy)
ISBN: 978-0529115683 (NKJV Study Bible, Bonded Leather, Burgundy, Indexed)
ISBN: 978-0529115362 (The NKJV Study Bible, Imitation Leather, Rich Raspberry/Rich Mahogany)
ISBN: 978-0529115416 (The NKJV Study Bible, Imitation Leather, Rich Raspberry/Rich Mahogany, Indexed)
ISBN: 978-0529115393 (The NKJV Study Bible, Imitation Leather, Rich Mahogany, Indexed)


Company Summary:

In 1798, Thomas Nelson founded his first publishing house in Edinburgh, Scotland, determined to make books, particularly Christian classics, affordable to the common man. In 1931, Pat and Bernie Zondervan began their publishing journey in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they began buying and selling books and Bibles. HarperCollins Publishers acquired Zondervan Publishers in the 1980s and Thomas Nelson in 2012, integrating the two similar, yet uniquely different, publishing groups under one leadership. Today, the strength of these great names—Thomas Nelson and Zondervan—continue to represent the highest quality in Christian publishing, creating the Company’s foundation.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. is a world leading Christian content provider. Our parent company, HarperCollins Publishers, is the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world and is a subsidiary of News Corp. Though the Company formed in 2012, its heritage dates back to the late eighteenth century. Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, two highly sought-after Christian inspirational brands, are the keystone publishing programs.

@ThomasNelson @HarperCollins @BookLookBlogger

Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.

– Michael


This entry was posted in Bible, Bible Study, Bible Study Resources, Bible Studying, Culture, Gospel, Harper Collins, Language, Maps, NKJV, Outline, Paperback, Scriptures, Study Bible, Study Bible Reviews, Studying, Themes, Thomas Nelson, Word of God, Word Studies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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