Holman HCSB Notetaking Bible Review – Rating: 8.3

HCSB Notetaking BibleI know that right now notetaking Bibles and especially the process of “journaling” is kind of the new rage in reading through and studying your Bible.  With that said, as of right now, journaling (doing decorative art and text in the margins and over the top of Scripture) is not really my thing personally.  If people do it with the correct motive – not doing it just for making impressive art, but rather to help them study and learn the Word of God – then I am all for it.  I have been known to write  in the margins and underline and mark up some of my Bibles.  I wanted to get a copy of the HCSB Notetaking Bible from B&H Publishing to see how this particular Bible stacks up as something that you can take good notes in.  I have seen many Bibles that have some margin allowance for notetaking.  This one does not disappoint at all for notetaking.  About the only thing that the journaling people might not like is that the outside margins are not just a blank area – they have pre-printed lines  for writing notes.  But if you are a notetaker who just writes with a pen or pencil in the margins, this HCSB Notetaking Bible might be something to be very interested in.


In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by B&H Publishing 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


**See all sections below for full detailed review**
This HCSB Notetaking Bible is very nice looking and Feels pretty good in the hand.  It has more of a firm cover that has a two-tone tan and black color – almost a portfolio look to it.  It lays flat really well for me.  The type is a bit on the small side at roughly an 8 point font.  The paper used is not the most opaque, but the line matching is pretty good, so it’s not an issue.  The paper does have a kind of cool yellowish tint to it, giving it kind of that aged portfolio look, which I actually like.  You may not appreciate it like I do, however.  The outside margins are a healthy 2 1/4″ wide for good notetaking. The top margin is approximately 7/16″ and the bottom is about 3/8″.   The outside margins will provide you even more room than 2 1/4″ in some instances with how they laid out some books like Psalms and Proverbs for example.  If you are a person who likes to write down notes within their Bible, this one will give you plenty of room if you don’t mind the smaller font size for the Scriptures.  If you are an art journaler, however, you might not like it because the outside margins are lined with lines spaced about 3/16″ apart from each other.


Type of Bible: Text Bible
Publisher: Holman Bible Publishers / B&H Publishing (December 1, 2015)
ISBN-13 of Bible Reviewed: 978-1433643033
Printing Location: Korea
Bible Version: HCSB
Price: At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this book is at Christianbook.com.  They have it for $13.50 – suggested retail from the publisher is $44.99. 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 Christianbook.com on this page like the one below.

643037: HCSB Notetaking Bible--bonded leather, black/brown HCSB Notetaking Bible–bonded leather, black/brown
By Holman Bible Publishers

The HCSB Notetaking Bible is designed to enhance personal Bible study as well as preparation for teaching and preaching. The Bible contains the full text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible in a single-column setting. Lined margins with abundant space are provided on each page for journaling, making observations, recording insights, raising questions, and suggesting to yourself additional exploration of the text.


  • 2-inch ruled margins ideal for recording observations, lessons, reflections, prayers, or simply notes
  • One-column layout allowing your notes to be next to the applicable text
  • Concordance
  • Holman Bullet Notes explaining frequently used Biblical words or terms
  • Eight pages of full-color maps
  • Daily Bible reading plan
  • Presentation page
  • Introduction to the Holman Christian Standard Bible
  • 8-point text size
  • 8.50&quot; x 6.50&quot; x 1.50&quot;

Physical Characteristics:

  • Bonded Leather
  • Smyth sewn
  • 1 ribbon marker (Brown)
  • Single column Bible text
  • Good margins for note taking – 3/16″ on top, at least 2 1/4″ on face (outside edge) and 3/8″ on bottom
  • Words of Christ are in black
  • No Cross References
  • 1,363 pages (not including Pre-Scripture Text Pages and final full-color maps at end)
  • Type size is a little on the smaller side – approximately 8 point or so.
  • Dimensions: 6 5/8” wide (outside spine to cover edge – cover hangs past pages by about 1/4″) x 8 3/8″ high (top edge of cover to bottom edge of cover – cover hangs over top and bottom of pages by 3/16″ each) x 1 5/8” thick (including cover thickness)
  • Approximate weight: 2.3 lbs.


Pre-Scripture Text Pages (same as hardcover version)

Presentation Page
This is a pretty typical presentation page with the “Presented To”, “By” and “Date” sections to write in. It looks nice and clean, but is not ornate or decorative in my opinion.
Table of Contents
The Table of Contents is broken into three sections. The first one shows Old Testament books, then New Testament books, then Additional Material. The OT and NT books are listed in canonical order.
God’s Plan for Salvation
Very good explanation of the gospel also with a toll free number to call the Evangelism Response Center to talk to someone about Jesus (888-537-8720)
Introduction to the Holman Christian Standard Bible
This is the typical letter from the translators’ information which informs you how this translation came to be and the method the translators used when translating this version.

Scripture Text Pages

Cross References
There are no cross references in this particular Bible.

Notetaking Outside Margins
As I mentioned, the outside margins for the HCSB Notetaking Bible are very generous with at least 2 1/4″ margin to take your notes in.  I say at least because in some cases like Psalms and Proverbs (as well as some others), there is much more room between the scripture and lined notetaking area, allowing you even more room for notes if you wish.  As I previously said, those interested in doing the artistic journaling might not be as interested in this particular Bible just because of the pre-printed lines in the outside margins.

Normal Outside Margin

Normal outside Margin

Wider Outside Margin in Psalms

Wider Outside Margin in Psalms

Post-Scripture Text Pages

HCSB Bullet Notes
This is a unique feature in the HCSB Bibles where the translators explain frequently used biblical words or terms.  Not very in-depth, but it has 4 pages of some of these words and terms, so it would be helpful to some.

Daily Reading Plan
This is a pretty typical reading plan that goes week by week for a year.

This is a pretty decent concordance that is 49 pages. It is laid out very clean and is easy to use.

8 additional full-color maps are printed on very nice paper and pretty easy to read except for some of them have pretty small text


OK, this is the part 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 book at a high level to get a feel for it. Then I will go in-depth in a shorter book such as Philippians so I am comparing the same thing from bible to bible. That gives my reviews a certain consistency to them.


Ease of Use:
I would say that this bible is very easy to use. It’s a no-frills Bible that is designed nicely for someone who likes to take notes in the margin.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative:
This does not apply since this is not a Study Bible

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth:
This does not apply since this is not a Study Bible.

Durability of Bible:
I would say that this appears to be a very durable Bible. I was pleased to see that the edge of the cover is sewn (see section below) which not only gives it a nice look in my opinion, but also gives it some more stability long-term. This Bible is Smyth Sewn (or section sewn), which means it will hold up better than most “perfect bound” or glue back Bibles (similar to general paperback books). I would easily consider this Bible a “carry around with me” bible for preaching, teaching, studying or reading.

Leather bound cover and spine:
As I have stated in other posts in my blog, I have a personal preference toward leather-bound books.  This one is bonded leather, which is a cheaper leather, but then again, with this Bible, you’re not paying the premium price for the nicer, more expensive leathers.  The Bible cover does have a very nice stitching all the way around it. This gives the cover a nice durability and a very nice design look as well.

Rounded Corners:

This Bible does have rounded corners that you see in the vast majority of leather or “leather-like” Bibles. Personally, I like the rounded corners from an aesthetic as well as functional purpose. The Bibles that don’t have rounded edges in my opinion tend to get bent or damaged corners more easily than those that have rounded edges. So, rounding the corners is a way to reduce wear and tear on the pages. This wear and tear can happen just from long-term turning of pages, which hopefully happens a lot for you rather than your Bible not getting opened.

Typeface and Print:

Scriptures appear to be on the smaller size at roughly an 8 point font, which tends to be a little smaller than the majority of Bibles. It makes readability a little harder for anyone that doesn’t have the best eyesight.

Smaller 8 point Size

Smaller 8 point Size

Paper Stock:
Paper used for this Bible is a not as opaque as I would prefer. You do get a little bleedthrough from the backing pages.  However, they really did do a pretty good job on the line matching which helps the readability quite a lot.  The paper used, has a unique yellowish tint which gives it a kind of cool older, portfolio look to it.  Not everyone will likely appreciate the look, but I find it quite interesting personally.



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: 7.9 – I would classify this one as well made. Not the highest quality Bible that you can get, it is pretty decent quality.
Appearance: 8.1 –
I have to admit that I kind of like the appearance of this particular Bible.  The cover looks very nice for a bonded leather cover.  The yellowish tint to the paper stock gives it an older look (although in my opinion, a parchment coloring/design would have been really cool looking).  The only thing that I don’t like is how small the font is.  Yes, I have Bibles that have even a smaller 7 point font, but they are also a lot smaller in dimensions.  I would rather have seen this Bible in a larger size and a tad thicker to get it to a 9 point font, but it is what it is.
Value: 8.4 – I personally like Bibles that are Smyth sewn better simply because they are typically made better and will last longer. Yes, this is a bonded leather Bible, but overall, it feels pretty well made nonetheless.
Innovation: 8.7 – When it comes to text-only Bibles, there usually aren’t many things that can lend the Bible to being called innovative. However, the wide margins on this Bible lend very nicely to the purpose of this Bible – specific to the notetakers of the world.  Again, not sure if this is the best option for the artistic journaling because of the printed lines in the outside margins, but general text only notetakers will appreciate the generous margins.
Other/Wildcard: n/a – There aren’t any real wildcards for this one that stood out to me, so I am marking this section as not applicable and not including it in the rating.

Overall Rating: 8.3 out of 10


Company Summary:

In 1993, A.J. Holman Bible Company was acquired by Broadman Press to form B&H Publishers. Then in 2014, B&H Publishing combined with Lifeway Church Resources. They are based in Nashville, TN and have roots that go back to 1738.


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


This entry was posted in B&H Publishing, Bible, Bible Reviews, Bible Study, Bonded Leather, HCSB, Maps, Notetaking, Scriptures, Word of God and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Holman HCSB Notetaking Bible Review – Rating: 8.3

  1. Pingback: Hendrickson’s Ministry Essentials Bible Review – Rating: 9.2 | The Christian Reviewer

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