Bible Buying Tip – Paper

Bible Buying Tip – Paper

Paper is one of the most important elements of a Bible. No matter what tools it has or how good the cover is, if I don’t like the paper then I won’t use it. With paper there are some trade-offs to consider.

In a perfect world Bibles would have paper that was so opaque that you couldn’t see through to the other side, it would be thick enough that you would never have any trouble turning the page, it would take any kind of pen or marker and never show through to the other side or leave indentions in the page, and you could get two of these Bibles in your pocket.

Have you heard the saying “pick any two?” That’s the way Bible paper is. There’s a trade-off and you have to decide what you need.

Thin Bibles will have thin paper. It probably won’t be highly opaque and it won’t be good for marking. You can have thick paper, but not in a thin Bible. If you want paper that is thick and opaque, and good for writing, the Bible will be thicker. Paper that is more opaque allows for print that is bolder.

Also consider the color. Look in the gutter where the two pages meet and you’ll easily see the color of the paper. Some prefer white because it has a higher contrast. Others prefer cream. Others, myself included, prefer ivory or eggshell. I personally don’t like blue or red, but somewhere between white and cream.

The color of the paper greatly affects the readability of the print. Consider the contrast in various types of lighting. Choose how the Bible will be used and then choose the best paper for that purpose.

The Featured image is Crossway’s ESV Wide Margin Bible in black genuine leather. You can read the review here: ESV Wide Margin Reference Bible

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.


  1. Matt Paolo

    This “tip” was worthless. Unless it was written for stupid people or very small and inexperienced children. Yes of course thicker more opaque paper will make a thicker bible. Will it Really??? I think you should actually recommend where someone can buy a bible with opaque paper and easy to read print. That would actually be useful information. Do you recommend any bibles or bookstores where one can be purchased?

    • Randy A Brown

      It was written for beginners. I’m glad you didn’t need it.

    • DJ

      I worked in a Christian bookstore for many years. You might be surprised how often a customer would say “I’m looking for a small Bible with large print.” In other words, most consumers don’t consider the details of their request until they speak to a clerk and learn about it. In hardware stores, we used to joke about how all customers walked in thinking their toilet flapper was the “standard” type and easy to match up. They were shocked to walk over to the plumbing department and find that we had at least fifteen different flappers!

      Thanks Randy, for all you do! Be well.

  2. Tom Beetham

    Hi Randy,

    I am looking for an ESV that has the least bleed through (show through) possible. I hate seeing the words through the pages. Besides the waterproof Bible (which still has a little bleed through from what I can tell) what do you recommend?

    Thanks so much!

    Tom Beetham

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Tom. Of the Bibles I’ve seen in person, the ones with the least show-through are the Schuyler Quentel (the current edition has 36gsm paper, but the older has 38) and Cambridge wide margin editions (38gsm).

  3. Joshua

    Do you have a suggestion for a NLT bible that is compact with the least amount of see through (aka most opaque) as possible? I don’t need to write or underline, just want a bible that is smaller and not see through. The best I have found so far is the one year bible, but I want the Bible in the traditional format.

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Joshua. What font size are you looking for?

  4. Ira Weinstein

    Hi Randy,

    I’m looking for a King James Bible with thick paper, easy to turn the pages. Good size lettering, I’m 83. Any suggestions?

    Ira Weinstein

  5. Daniel Lane

    Thanks for your hard work Randy. I’m after a Red letter, double column, 36 gsm opaque NLT Bible.. I just can’t find one anywhere.. if that’s not possible I can settle for a single column.. do you know of any? Many thanks, Daniel

  6. Anna

    Do you know of an Amplified Bible, the 2015 update, with thick pages that I can highlight/underline/write on, because I can’t find one to save my life! And I have the best Archival pigmented ink tools!

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Anna. I haven’t seen one, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for one.

  7. Micki

    I am looking for a NIV bible that I can carry with me (I know it will be thicker) that has large print and the least show through because it is difficult for me to read when I’m seeing the words from the other side of the page. I have other criteria but these are the 2 most important.

  8. Kristi Vanasse

    Randy, I’m looking for an NIV Bible with opaque pages. It’s for my son who has recently begun to read the Bible when he joined the Army.
    I couldn’t be more proud or happy that he is seeking the Lord, especially at this time. Do you think an NIV is the most “new believer friendly” version of the Bible? I don’t want to sacrifice accuracy for simplicity. Oh and by the way, my compliments. You responded to Matt Paolo’s comments like a Christian man who loves the Lord.

    • Randy A Brown

      Thank you Kristi! I’m not sure which would be the most readable/accurate for a new believer, but the NIV is an excellent choice. Is there a certain size or price range you’re looking for? Some of my favorites include the Schuyler Quentel series, the Cambridge Clarion, and the Zondervan Premier Collection.

    • Nancy

      Randy, I recently bought on line, NIV 3rd edition Life Application Study Bible, personal size and I am sending it back because it’s see through pages!
      I can’t seem to find a bible with all the important features. Any suggestions and not so costly?
      Please email me, not sure if I can find this site again
      since I found by accident. Thank you!

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