. How to Enhance Personal Books in Logos (Give it a Go)

How to Enhance Personal Books in Logos (Give it a Go)

Guest writer Adam B. Shaeffer holds an MA in Spiritual Formation from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Theology from Durham University. He is already a big fan of Logos 8.

In my previous post, I discussed C.S. Lewis’ introduction to a translation of St. Athanasius’ The Incarnation of the Word of God. If you’ve read his introduction, and if you’re like me, you want to read the version he introduced. Unfortunately for us, that version isn’t yet available in Logos and isn’t in the public domain.

But plenty of other excellent works are! And if it’s in the public domain, it can be part of your Logos library in no time thanks to the Personal Books tool.

The Personal Books tool allows you to take any .docx file and turn it into a Logos resource. As a Logos resource, it is:

  • integrated into your library,
  • fully searchable,
  • and, with a little work, linked to other resources in your Logos library.

Using the Personal Books tool

I should point out right away that many of the best public domain works out there have Logos versions available for purchase. The difference between the Logos versions and the personal books you can build from public domain sources is in the tagging and linking.

If your aim is simply to read a book, take notes on it, and be enriched by it, then making a personal book from the public domain sources may be sufficient. But the Logos versions have been enhanced so that important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources from across your library. If you felt so inclined, you could methodically work through your personal book and add in all the enhancements featured within the Logos version, but, depending on the work, that will most likely take more time than it’s worth.

For example, I added my PhD thesis as a personal book about nine months ago, but I didn’t take the time to work through the Personal Book Syntax discussed in the Help File. Consequently, my thesis wasn’t much different from the word document I used to build it. My footnotes displayed as small pop-ups, like this:

Enhancing Personal Books in Logos

This is all well and good, but when I started working through the personal book syntax and began to enhance my thesis, some of my footnotes looked like this:

Personal Books Logos Bible Software

Like the linking between resources you find in the Logos versions of texts, where my thesis refers to Julian of Norwich’s Showings, my personal book can link directly to the portion of her work that I reference.

What’s especially great about this process is its simplicity. If you check the Personal Books Syntax section of the Help file, you’ll find that you can link to any other Logos resource by adding a link to the body of your document in the following format:

Personal books

I’ve used the second of the two examples above. To get the specific link:

  1. Find the location you want to reference in your Logos resource
  1. Open the Panel menu
  1. Click L4 in the Copy Location as row. This copies the location in that resource as a Logos specific link for use exclusively within Logos resources.

Personal books in Logos

This link can then be inserted into the link syntax shown in the Help file example above so that your Word document will look something like this:

Personal books in LogosIn the first example, “Norwich, Revelations, 75.” is the surface text, and the link is the location. So, when I hover over the footnote number, it will only display the note and surface text.

But when I click the note, the surface text is revealed as a link, which will either display a preview of the linked text when I hover over it or open the resource to that location when I click it.

These links obviously won’t work for resources that aren’t in my library, but if any of those works are in the public domain, I can add them to my library in a few minutes.


In a later post I’ll dive into some more specifics on how we can use personal books in creative ways, but for now, let me recommend the training article on creating personal books: it walks you through some necessary steps to ensure the success of your personal book building.

Written by
Adam B. Shaeffer

Adam B. Shaeffer (PhD, Durham University) rarely had time for books until he discovered the fantasy novels on his dad's shelf at age 12; the rest is history. His primary research interests revolve around the interplay between theology and literature, attending to fiction's power to narrate theological insights through the thoughts and lives of imagined people and places. His poetry and fiction have appeared in *Jabberwocky*, *Resident Aliens*, and *This Mutant Life*.

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      • I have several personal books that came from WORD files. But logos.com files download as media. I would think Logos would have some way to do it.

        • I see. The logos.com files are pdfs. At the moment, the personal books tool can only work with .docx files. I’m not sure if they have plans to change that (there may be rights issues involved), but you can always ask around on the forums (forums.logos.com). Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  • Personal Books are amazing, but have a huge gap not being available on my iPad—which is actually the most used (by time) part of my Logos Library usage. When will this come?

    • That’s a good question, Samuel. I’ll ask around to see if I can find an answer.

      • Hello again Samuel. Sorry I haven’t been able to track down an answer to your question. I’d ask around on the forums (forums.logos.com) to see if anyone over there has any info.

  • I would love to see more articles explaining how to use the Personal Books tool and examples of the things that can be done and ways to get really creative with them. The training is limited to very basic “introductory” information. The help file is sort of “helpful” but very spartan and sometimes cryptic, assuming familiarity with data types and other tagging information which the average user doesn’t have, and the explanations are often incomplete and lacking useful or helpful examples. For example, there is apparently a default font and I get warnings about the font(s) I’ve used but can find no information about fonts with Personal Books.

    I have been working on my own commentary and get frustrated sometimes trying to implement some features. One example: In some resources pictures can be resized (zoomed in or out). I would like to be able to use high quality images and resize them when viewing them. Is that possible in PBB?

    Anyway, thank you for the article and I look forward to all you’re willing and able to provide on this topic!

    • Hi Keith,

      I haven’t yet needed to integrate images into personal books, though I do have a project in my queue that I can experiment with. Let me ask around and see if anyone has tips and tricks for what to do and how to do it.

      As for the fonts, Logos does use a default font, but using a different font shouldn’t cause errors. The warnings, in most cases, can be ignored. It’s only the errors that should prevent your personal book from building correctly.

      I’ll reply again once I’ve figured something out regarding images.

      • Good article Adam.

        As Keith says, there are better projects to do, as an example the Catholic Topical Index that used to be a separate resource in L7.

        It had 500 + terms, that were in alphabetical order and for the concept gave the relevant passages, the applicable sections in the catechism, and other church documents locations.

        It would be great to be able to build a similar resource but to include information of other traditions.

        Also it would be good to have Canvas be able to have link to locations within a resource the way Favorites work, so one can do a mind map index of certain subjects that can be included in a diagram in Canvas for easy visual index.

        A guide to do the above would be great.

      • Hi again Keith,

        I’ve tinkered a bit with images in personal books over the past few days, but I haven’t figured anything out with resizing them on the fly. You might pose that question on the forums (forums.logos.com) if you haven’t already, and see if anyone there can provide some tips. Sorry I’m not more help on this issue!

Written by Adam B. Shaeffer