When you’re writing a devotion for publication, whether online or in print, there’s a correct format to use for including your devotion’s Scripture theme verse(s).
Here’s how to include the Scripture verse(s) at the beginning of your devotion. Notice I have my title, my name as the author (you may or may not include this here), and then the Scripture verse.
“Do You Think I’m Beautiful?”
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
The Scripture verse is at the beginning of the manuscript, before the actual devotion begins.
You place the verse in quotation marks. Remember that quotation marks mean you copied the verse EXACTLY. Then following your verse, you place the Scripture reference followed by the translation abbreviated in parentheses.
(Note that if you’re writing for a specific publication, that publication will have guidelines for you to follow as far as where to place and how to format your key verse. However, for your own publications, this is a format you can use.)
Then you will also use your key verse in your manuscript.
The following is a paragraph from the sample devotion:
What if we recognize this longing as a God-given desire that distinguishes our feminine hearts? When I turn this over in my mind and heart, I find something incredible. Our heavenly Father is the one who both created and fulfilled the longing of our hearts. God sees us inside and out, and he’s not disappointed or critical. He will “take great delight in you” and “rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV).
In the body of your manuscript, note that the formatting of the verse is a little bit different. This time, you end your quotation with quotation marks, but do not include the end mark punctuation, the period, until after the parenthesis. In the parentheses, you include the Scripture reference along with the translation (note this time you do not have to put the translation in parentheses).
I receive many questions about formatting Scripture. While I can’t answer these question individually, I’ve provided guidelines and answered all sorts of questions in my new book, How to Use Scripture in Your Writing: A Quick Guide to Documenting and Writing with Scripture.
You also might want to find out more about writing a devotion (we’ll be having a devotion writing contest later this year!). You can check out my book, How to Write a Devotion: Workbook with Steps to Write a Devotion or Devotional Blog Post.