Study Bible compatibility

Hi folks. I am new to PTX print and eager to use it for printing test versions of texts. I would really like to use it with a study Bible project I am working on with the Mozambique Bible Society. I note that Study Bible notes, sidebars etc. are not yet supported. Could this be added? It would be a huge help.

Hello, Stuart.

I noticed your post here about support for printing test versions of study Bible projects. It would be of interest to me to know your thinking about what sort of presentation would be helpful and needed for study Bible content review.

Some of what I’m aware of is that 1) quick draft printing of study Bible project could assist with evaluating the relative balance of content, and 2) could really assist with involving many more reviewers. Do you have any specific thoughts about the layout which would best facilitate needs of this sort?


Hi Jeff.

I very much agree with points 1 and 2. I have spent inordinate amounts of time ‘fiddling’ to attempt some kind of presentation for reviewers. When it is ugly and confusing, the whole point is defeated.

I would put notes and study notes at the bottom of the page; cross-references in a margin (so they are distinct from the notes); and sidebars and illustrations on the opposite side from the cross-reference margin. To aid in distinguishing notes from Bible text, I would perhaps use single column for Scripture and double columns for notes at the bottom of the page.

Of course, part of the joy (if this could be worked out) would be presenting our review committee with multiple formats so they could agree on what they like (rather than have it be my opinion).


This is a great topic - especially as the developers work towards eventually making Study Bible layouts possible in PTXprint. But don’t hold your breath - it is VERY complicated, and new layouts will take time to develop. I think at this stage what is especially helpful is the kind of description given by @StuartF in the previous post, or better still, post an image of a layout that you would like to see in future. No promises, but the better our understanding BEFORE we start adding more layouts, the more likely we are to meet your needs.

I’m pretty new at this software, so I may have missed something, but one relatively simple first step towards study Bible typesetting would be the ability to set the background color for each style. We have been producing this kind of material using Word for many years, and we have found it helpful to format non-sacred text (e.g. side bars, intros to each Psalm, etc) with a light gray background to distinguish it from Scripture.

The sidebar support that exists in the macros at the moment does support a background colour. It would also be relatively easy to apply a background colour to things like headings which don’t split. We can do this because they are a chunk of text on the page that doesn’t need to be split up, so to put a background colour on the page, it literally works out how big the text block is, paints a square that shape on the page and puts the text on top.

While XeTeX includes the concept of colour in the a font, there is no concept of a background colour in it, thus we needed to take the above approach. I guess it would be possible to typeset a paragraph and then put a box behind every single line, but the problem here is that ascenders and descenders will likely get painted over by subsequent lines or people will complain about the boxes leaving stripes on the page.
Another option is to write magic bits of code that do something clever with the start and end points of a paragraph, but I don’t understand PDF-code well enough to know if it is even possible to have something later in the file painting below what’s come earlier.

That is of course talking about paragraphs, not words. A cheating method might be to draw a box behind every letter, but this would probably have some even uglier side-effects than the lines I mentioned earlier

To implement background colour like you are used to in Word, so that it can apply to everything in a font, beautifully without ugly hacks, someone would probably need to modify XeTeX itself (and device drivers) to do this. Whether that change is a week of programming effort or three months, I’ve no idea.