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Tip 4.1 Using Verse Notes as a Topical Database

With the BibleWorks User Notes feature you can create verse notes as you study the Biblical text. New features in the BibleWorks Editor and the Report Generator let you search your verse notes, and then create verse lists and custom reports based upon the verse notes containing your search words. With these new features you can even create, search, and export your own topical database.

In this Classroom Tip we will look at how to plan your user-created Topical Database, how to create the database, how to search the database, and then provide a few ways that you can export and use your database.

In summary, creating and exporting your Topical Database involves the following steps:

  • Create your verse notes with tags for your database
  • Search your verse notes for your tags and export the list of verses to the Search Window
  • Save your verse list. Use the verse list in the Report Generator to create a report containing your tagged verse notes and Bible verses.

Create Your Topical Database Using Verse Notes

The new search and export verses feature Notes feature enables you to search on any word in your verse notes and create a list of verses that have verse notes containing your search word. The following instructions go a little further than that. These instructions provide a strategy for creating your own topical database using a set of markup tags that you design.

Begin by creating verse notes in the Notes Tab. In these verse notes include any tags upon which you want to search when the project is completed. A tag is a unique word, symbol, or combination of a word and symbol that is used to mark the verse as being related to a specific topic.

Add relevant tags to the verse note as you work in the Biblical text. You will want to keep a list of the tags you are using so that you tag the verses consistently. If your tags are inconsistent or misspelled, you will not be able to search your verse list and find all of your tagged verses.

Here are some tagging strategies to consider if you want to tag verses so that you can build a report containing all verses that pertain to a specific topic:

  • You probably will want to use a unique tag indicator to make your tags distinct from other text contained in your notes. For example, you might want to add a backslash in front and behind each unique term, such as \mercy\. Or you could use brackets [mercy], or place an asterisk in front of the word *mercy.

  • If you include multiple tags, you will want to keep the tags separate from each other so that you can search for each individual tag. For example, you would want to add tags such as \mercy\ \hope\, or [mercy] [hope], or *mercy *hope. If you include a phrase as a tag, then you would treat the phrase the same as a single word, such as \kingdom of god\, [kingdom of god], *kingdom of god.
  • You will probably want to use the Roman character set in your tags rather than Greek, Hebrew, or other foreign languages. English uses the Roman character set, as do many other languages. The BibleWorks File Search window (which we will use later) is designed to use the Roman character set. Entering other characters in the BibleWorks File Search window is more difficult and may result in you not be able to search on your verse note tags.
  • Keep in mind that when you create a list of verses from your tagged text, you will only be able to create a list from verse notes. Chapter notes are disregarded in the verse list creation stage. You can enter tags in your chapter notes and you can search for these tags in chapter notes, but these chapter note entries will not appear in the created verse list. If you wish to created tagged verse notes, you will want to make sure that the Chapter box at the top of the Notes Tab is unchecked.

Search Your Topical Database and Create a Verse List

Now that you have created your verse notes, you can search on words or tags to create a verse list.

  • Display the Notes Tab in the Analysis Window. On the Notes Tab button bar click the Find in Files button  to open the BibleWorks File Search window. (Alternately, you can also right-click in the note entry area and select Edit | Search Verse Notes to open the BibleWorks File Search window.)
  • Enter the tag word that you wish to search in the Search String text entry box at the top of the window. Be sure that the checkbox "Export verses to Search Window (verse notes only)" at the bottom of the box is checked. Click the Find button to find all the verse notes containing the tag you entered in the Search String text box. The corresponding verses appear in the Search Window.

  • When you create the list of verses in the Search Window, keep in mind that any verse having a verse note that does not appear in your current Search Version will be removed from the list. For example, if you tagged verse notes include verse notes in Genesis and Matthew, but your search version is the WTT Hebrew version, when you export the references to the Search Window all of the Matthew verses will be removed. This occurs because there is no book of Matthew in the WTT Hebrew text.
  • To save the list of verses displayed in the Search Window, select File | Save Verse List to File on the main BibleWorks menu. You will be prompted to enter a brief description of the verse list. You do not have to enter a description, but you may want to enter the search terms that you used to create the verse list. Then you will be prompted to save the verse list. Save the file in the default directory (BibleWorks 8\ase) for later use. Once saved, you can use the verse list in the Verse List Manager or other places in the BibleWorks program.

  • There may be times where you will want to search on more than one tag and create a verse list from these searches. Search on each separate term and create a verse list for each term. Then you can use the Verse List Manager to merge the verse list files. Open the Verse List Manger by selecting Tools | Analyzing the text | Verse List Manager. In the Main Verse List of the Verse List Manager (the left window in the Verse List Manager), select File | Open, then select one of the verse list files you want to merge.
  • Now select the Secondary Verse List (the right window of the Verse List Manager) and open another verse list file that you want to merge. With the Secondary Verse List having the focus, chose Selection | Select All. With all the verses in the Secondary Verse List selected, choose Edit | Copy Selected Items in Active List into Inactive List. The Main Verse List is now your merged verse list file. Save the Main Verse List file as a new verse list using File | Save As, and save the file in the default BibleWorks 8\ase directory.

  • If you have more than two verse list files that you want to merge, continue to open your verse list files in the Second Verse List and merge them into the main verse list file. When you are finished merging all your verse lists, save your main verse list in the BibleWorks 8\ase directory.

Export Your Topical Database

Now that you have created a topical database and verse list, you can export your topical database. We will export the database using the Report Generator.

  • Select Tools | Importing/exporting information | Report Generator. Clear the Range box, then type the name of the verse list you created after searching your verse notes. The verse list file must be in the BibleWorks 8\ase directory. Be sure to enter the ".vls" extension at the end of the file name. For example, enter "list1.vls".

  • Under Versions enter the Bible texts that you want to include in your report. If you only want to see topical database but no Bible text, clear this box.
  • Under Report Options check the box to Include Verse Notes. Uncheck all other boxes. If you chose not to include a Bible text you might want to check the option to Display Section Headings so that you will have an indication in your report of what verse is being discussed in each note. Press the Build Report button to generate your report.
  • Now you have a report of all the verses and verse notes that contain the tag on which you searched earlier. You can save the report as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) or HTML file and open it in your word processor for further formatting and editing.

Creating, Searching, and Exporting Options and Tips

Here are some options to consider as you create, search, and export your verse notes and verse lists created from your notes.

  • If you want to find all of the verses that contain a verse note, use the BibleWorks File Search window to search on a space. As long as you have more than one word in your files you should find every single verse note. If you use a specific tagging indicator such as the brackets [ or ], you can search on the specific tagging indicator to find all your verse notes that contained a tag.
  • After running the search you can click on the verses in the Search Window to view your notes in the Notes Tab. You can also show the Stats Tab to see where your notes are distributed throughout the Biblical text.

  • It is a good idea to create a master list of tag. By having a master list of tags you can see what tags are already used, how you spelled the tags, and know what tags to search. Planning ahead for what tags you want to use will help you develop a better database.
  • Consistency is absolutely essential if you use tags to mark you verse notes. Your database will only be as good as the accuracy of your tags. Your searches will not find verse notes with misspelled tags. And using different tags for the same type of verse will likewise miss verse notes.
  • You can use different types of symbols to indicate different levels of tagging. For example, you might want to use a ledger-type system to indicate levels of tagging. For example,
    Level 1 tagging: *1.1spirit
    Level 2 tagging: *1.1.1holy
    Level 2 tagging: *1.1.2human
    You will certainly want to keep a master list of tags if you use this system, though. This system could be come complicated and constraining if not planned carefully.
  • If you want to create a report that contains verse notes that have one tag but not another tag, search on each tag separately and create separate verse lists. Then use the Verse List Manager Selection options to create a verse list that only contains verses in one list but not the other list. Then you can use this new verse list in the Report Generator to create your report.

Ways to Use Your Topical Database

There are a lot of ways that you can use your topical database. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

  • Tag verse notes to include in your class notes. Tag the notes by class name or number so you can tag the same verse notes for more than one class.
  • Tag verse notes to include in an academic paper or journal article.
  • Tag verse notes to include in a book. Use tags to indicate in which chapter of the book they belong.
  • Tag verse notes according to topics you are studying, such as mercy, hope, salvation, etc.
  • Tag verse notes according to systematic theology doctrines.
  • Tag verse notes according to the genre of the verse.
  • Tag verse notes according to the verse's role in the structure of the passage's argument, such purpose, result, command, example, etc.
  • Tag verse notes for verses that contain specific Hebrew or Greek constructions. Use these verse notes as examples in your Hebrew or Greek classes.
  • Tag verse notes according to scholarly reconstructions such as the Q passages in the Gospels, or JEDP sources in the Hebrew Bible.
  • Tag verse notes according to the place and date when you preached from that verse.
  • Tag verse notes according to your denomination's confession or church constitution.

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