Compact Center-Column Reference Bible Review

The Compact Center-Column Reference Bible from Thomas Nelson is a traditionally designed KJV in a form that’s great for carry and general usage. It’s available in several covers with and without a unique thumb index that goes back to the Thomas Nelson editions from several decades ago. I’m reviewing the black genuine leather with a thumb index. This is ISBN: 9781400333196, printed in India.

Thomas Nelson provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.


This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)



and many local Bible bookstores


Table of Contents

  1. Video Review
  2. Binding
  3. Paper
  4. Typography and Layout
  5. References
  6. Extras
  7. Concordance
  8. Bible Atlas
  9. Comparisons
  10. Conclusion

Video Review

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The edition I’m reviewing is black genuine leather. It has a deep pebbly grain and feels soft to the touch. It has perimeter stitching. The words Holy Bible are printed on the front in gold. The spine also has gold printed and includes four gold blocks and five raised hubs.

The liner is pasted vinyl. Since this is a small cover, it will need to break in well before staying open in Genesis. It stays open to Deuteronomy out of the box. The block is sewn. It has two 3/8″ ribbons in black and red. They’re long enough to pull to the corner to open easily. The overall size 5.25 x 7.76 x 1.37″ is and it weighs 1 lb, 6.2 oz.

Thumb Index

The thumb index is the old style that Thomas Nelson used many years ago. The tabs in the first third of the Bible face the opposite direction. This makes each tab viewable when the Bible is opened in the middle. This is my favorite method of placing the thumb index tabs. The books are always to the right of the tab. This can be confusing at first.

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The paper is 30GSM. This seems to be the same paper used in most Thomas Nelson editions. It’s white in color and it’s highly opaque, making it great for reading. Show-through is barely noticeable and there is no glare under direct light. The paper has a slightly rough texture that I found to be easy enough to turn.

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Typography and Layout

The KJV text is presented in a double-column, verse-by-verse layout with no other formatting for the text. Section headings are in a larger bold font in all caps. Some include references to parallel passages. It does not have paragraph markers, so the section headings create paragraphs. The header shows the book name, chapter, and verse in the outer margin and the page number in the center. All highlights are black. As the name suggests, the footnotes and references are in the center column.

The typeface is an 8-point Comfort Print with the words of Christ in red. The black letter is dark and consistent throughout. There is a little bit of variation in the red text, which ranges from dark to medium/dark. Even with the variation, it’s highly readable. It has around 6 words per line and was printed with line-matching to improve readability. There is enough space between the lines and text to make it easy to read.

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It has 43,000 cross-references. They’re placed in the center column with the footnotes. If there are too many to fit, the rest are placed under the last verse on the page. These are the same references used in the Sovereign, which has fewer references than many of the other reference editions from Thomas Nelson. It has enough for simple study, but you’ll need other resources for deeper study.

Here are a few example references to help you compare:

  • Genesis 1:1 – Jn 1:1-3, Ac 17:24
  • Deuteronomy 6:4 – 1 Cor 8:4, 6
  • Isaiah 9:6 – Lk 2:11, Jn 3:16, Mt 28:18, Jd 13:18, Titus 2:13, Eph 2:14
  • Matthew 28:19 – Mk 16:15; Lk 24:47
  • Mark 12:29 – Dt 6:4, 5
  • John 1:1 – 1 Jn 1:1, Rev 19:13, Jn 17:5, 1 Jn 5:20
  • John 3:16 – Rom 5:8; Is 9:6
  • Acts 2:38 – Lk 24:47
  • Romans 10:9 – Lk 12:8
  • 1 John 1:1 – Jn 1:1, 14, 2 Pet 1:16, Lk 24:39, Jn 1:1, 4, 14


In the back are a few extras for reading and study.

Read Your Bible in a Year – A 4-page reading plan with the book name, the chapters in the book, and a check box so you can mark that you’ve read each chapter. It doesn’t include a reading for the day or the dates.

Prayers of the Bible – This is a 3.5-page list of prayers in the Bible. They’re listed alphabetically under a topic. They show the person’s name, the subject of the prayer, and the Scripture reference.


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The concordance is 111 pages with 2 columns per page. This is the same concordance used in the Sovereign. It doesn’t include names (with the exception of Jesus, which has 3 entries), but it does have a good number of references for study. Here are a few example entries with their number of references to help you compare:

  • Christ – 18
  • Christian – 3
  • Faith – 96
  • Faithful – 41
  • Faithfully – 1
  • Faithfulness – 4
  • Faithless – 3
  • God – 56
  • Godhead – 3
  • Godliness – 8
  • Godly – 11
  • Praise(n) – 32
  • Praise(v) – 15
  • Pray – 38
  • Prayer – 36

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Bible Atlas

In the back are the standard Zondervan maps that Thomas Nelson uses. There are 7 full-color maps on 8 thick, semi-glossy pages. The maps seem to have been glued in separately from the text block. My first map was stuck in the center of the page before it and tore slightly when I separated them. They do not include an index, but they are annotated well. They include distance, elevation, topography, ancient cities, journeys, battles, events, dates, and Scripture references. They’re bright and colorful without being cartoonish.

Maps include:

  1. World of the Patriarchs
  2. Exodus and Conquest of Canaan
  3. Land of the Twelve Tribes
  4. Kingdom of David and Solomon
  5. Jesus’ Ministry
  6. Paul’s Missionary Journeys
  7. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus

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Here’s how the Compact Center-Column Reference Bible compares to several similar Bibles.


The Sovereign is the big brother of the Compact Center-Column Reference Bible. It has thicker paper, the same references, footnotes, concordance, and maps. It adds red highlights, decorative drop caps, book introductions, a few extras in the back, and single-column Psalms and Proverbs.

Personal Size Concord

The Personal Size Concord is the closest equivalent to the Compact Center-Column Reference Bible. The font and footprint are slightly smaller, and it adds a glossary, dictionary, a larger concordance, and more maps.


The Concord is larger and includes the same features as the Personal Size. I’m including it to show that the Compact Center-Column Reference Bible is between the two in size. It also has a thumb index.

Compact Westminster Reference

The Compact Westminster Reference is a lot smaller and has a smaller font. It has 200,000 cross-references, maps, and a few tables. It doesn’t have a concordance.


The Cameo is slightly smaller and has similar references. The font is about the same size, but it’s a lot darker. It has a larger concordance and more maps.

Personal Size Canterbury

The Personal Size Canterbury is similar in size and includes decorative drop caps and Psalms in a single-column layout. It has more references but no footnotes and no concordance. It has more maps and ruled pages for notes.

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The Compact Center-Column Reference Bible is an excellent Bible for carry and general usage. The overall size is perfect for anyone that prefers a hand-size edition. The typeface is dark and sharp. Even though it doesn’t have formatting for the text, it has plenty of whitespace to make the text readable. It doesn’t have extensive references, but it has enough for use on the go. The older-style thumb index looks great when opened. If you’re interested in a small KJV, the Compact Center-Column Reference Bible is a great choice.

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This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)



and many local Bible bookstores



Thomas Nelson provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.

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.

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