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Organizing Your Library:

Module Set Building With theWord Bible Software

Arrange Your Library However You Like -- As Many Times As You Like


My Story


My real world library is arranged by Dewey Decimal system. Although my library had 1,500 volumes in it, I could quickly and easily find every book on my shelves. It was a little bit of work initially to catalog the books; but once finished, I reaped the dividends for years. From parables to prophecy, from biographies of holy men to blasphemy of the Holy Ghost, it was easy to find what I was looking for.


Then I went digital. Ugh.


Sure, the commentaries were easy enough to use; dictionaries, too. But the ebooks (eSword’s .topx modules & theWord’s .gbk.twm modules)? Uhh, not so much. I won’t say the content was impossible to find. I will say this: if a title wasn’t 1) obvious; 2) memorable; and 3) familiar, then I probably never utilized it. And it’s hard to be that familiar with a large library (unless you’re a librarian; and I haven’t met any of those yet {even the module collectors who think they are...}). And for the most part - they were only searchable by the module’s file name. (Things started getting a little better with the release of eSword 10.)


To make the matters worse, different module builders use different naming techniques. Some use an abbreviated book title; others use a-ton-of-dashes-in-their-title-because-they-think-it-looks-cool; some use Last Name, First Name - Title. So, when I’m looking for an ebook - am I looking for “Doe, John - Book” or am I looking for “Book” or “John-Doe’s-Book” or. . . . .


Some users completely ignore the digital ebook, simply because the contents are difficult to utilize. That’s a shame; because the best information is rarely in the “commentary” type modules. The best commentaries are nearly always in ‘stand alone’ books. And doctrinal material is really not accessible in any other way.


So, I  lived with the poor organizational system of the ebooks. Then “filtering” got better. But still - managing a large library was inconvenient at best. (By the way: if you have more than 100 ebooks - you have a large library. Nowadays, that’s almost all of us.)


I don’t remember who it was (so sorry, anonymous friend!), but someone told me that I could build “sets” with theWord. A set is simply a way to organize any of your book types - including ebooks. So I did. And when finished? It revolutionized my Bible study.


What Is A Module Set?


I’m not sure exactly how Costas defines a module set. Here is my definition:


A module set is a customized, personally organized group of modules.


Let me paint a word picture for you. Imagine your real world library has 1,000 volumes . . . .


So, you walk into your library, and begin organizing it. Commentary sets here, one volume commentaries here, doctrinal materials there, biographies over here, dictionaries over there, etc. You get it just like you want it, so, you leave the room - and lock the door behind you. Every time you want to study, you unlock the room, enter, and your books are organized just how you want them. It’s awesome.


But then - you think it would be nice to organize your books a little differently. Soooo . . . you open a new library door, and reorganize the same 1,000 volumes; but this time, you have it organized completely different. Instead of having your commentary sets and one volume commentaries apart, you decide to mix them together. This time, instead of having dictionaries together, you put them thematically where they belong (Greek dictionaries with other Greek books; History dictionaries with the biographies; etc.). Once this second library is organized just how you want it, you exit and lock the door! You still have 1,000 volumes; but now you have two different library configurations!


Then one day you’re studying eschatology (“last things”). You don’t want access to 1,000 books; but there are 100 of them you’d like to work with. Guess what? Open a third door, delete what is unnecessary for this library, and simply organize the rest. Exit; lock; and now you have a third library! No new books (in fact, a lot less in this one); but a third library configuration to use.


While this exercise is existential if using real world books; it is absolutely essential when using a digital library.


If A Picture is Worth A 1,000 Words . . .


. . . then let me shorten the blog by several feet! Check out these pictures of my digital sets. This first one shows the broad categories for all of my digital ebooks (TW’s “.gbk.twm” general book format). I’ve highlighted the broad categories to make them stand out in the picture.














Each category has as many sub-categories as you like. So with my Eschatology modules, it looks like this:

















I mouseover from “Doctrinal” to “Eschatology” into the “Rapture & Second Coming” category to find all of the modules in this category. I gotta tell ya: this makes doctrinal and topical study a breeze!


[Interesting side note: about a year ago, I sent a picture to Josh Bond (of similar to the one you see above. We had been talking about a good way to organize modules for eSword, and saying “too bad it won’t do this” - with the “this” being the organization in the picture. Just a few days later, he posted my picture in the Yahoo! eSword users group in reference to a better way to sort eSword modules. The response was funny: “That’s not possible!” “How did you do that?” “That can’t really be done - can it?” Well, not with eSword . . . . :-)]


Notice also that any particular category can contain both books, and a deeper sub-set of books. Look at the picture again. Under “Eschatology” not only are there 5 sub-sets, but there are also individual titles. Ironside’s “The Great Parenthesis” is a book about the Church Age and the End Times. It is definitely Eschatology, but it doesn’t fit one of the sub-sets. So I leave it right there.


The possibilities are endless!


Two Powerful Reasons You Should Organize Your Books By Sets




There are two reasons you should organize all of your modules by sets. I just showed you the first reason: organization. You’ll never be at a loss for finding information again as long as you (ahem, correctly!) organize your modules into sets.


Let me mention one more concept here that will not work in a real world library: books can be digitally filed in more than one area! For instance: a book on Jesus’ parables might focus mostly on the gospel of Matthew. So - do you put it the “Matthew” area or the “Parables” area? In a real world library, you have to choose; but in your TW virtual library: it can be in both places at once. Yeehaw! Try that one in your office!


But there is a second reason that I haven’t even hinted at yet: searchability.




As your library grows, it takes longer and longer to search all of your modules. (The ability to easily search your library is a great feature in TW!!) But some searches will not require you to search all of your modules in order to get the best results. Let me give you an example.


You could have a module set called “Theology.” In it you could put your favorite modules relating to the study of theology, such as:


  1. Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology (a premium .gbk module)
  2.  Erdman’s Dictionary of the Bible (a premium .dct module)
  3. William Evans’ Great Doctrines of the Bible (a third party .gbk module)
  4. IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament (a premium commentary)
  5. Paul Enns’ Approaching God (a doctrinal daily devotional module)


and as many other modules as you want in your “Theology” module set. Notice that they can be any type of non-Bible module (dictionaries, commentaries, general books, etc.).


Now when you run a search on something like “Replacement Theology”, only hits in this particular module set will be found. It dramatically speeds up the search; and it targets the search to modules that are likely to find some helpful information.


Remember: you can make as many different module sets as you like. Let’s get started!


How To Start Building Module Sets


In any one of your book windows, click the green “Define Module Sets” button. When the popup opens, click on “Define Module Sets.” That will take you to the “Define Module Sets” setup window. Relax - it’s a lot of information, but it’s really super easy to navigate.


Click on the “Create custom set (advanced)” tab, and you’ll be ready to start building your first module set.


On the right half of the window, if it isn’t already empty, click the very top entry, then “CTRL-a”, then “delete.” That will give you a “clean slate” to work with. Now it is time to add your categories. (Don’t worry about “deleting” in this window. You cannot delete a module from TW here. You can only delete it from a module set.) Costas calls each category a “folder.” Let’s start with these folders:


Bible Exposition (works that cover OT and NT topics)

OT Exposition (works exclusive to the OT)

NT Exposition (works exclusive to the NT)

Bible Doctrines (All types of theology)

Christian Living (practical topics)

History (biographies, church history, etc.)

Collections (module collections by specific authors or topics)


Notice that as you build these folders, you can make them “siblings” or “children.” (These main categories are all “siblings.”) You can re-order these however you like by a “drag and drop” maneuver. Add more categories as necessary. Also, each of these categories can have “children.” Here’s the children I would start with (make sure these are “children” or “siblings” as appropriate!):


Bible Exposition


Archaeology & Customs

Bible Characters


OT Exposition


OT Characters




Major Prophets

Minor Prophets

NT Exposition


NT Characters


Pauline Epistles

General Epistles


Bible Doctrines

Systematic (General Doctrinal Works)

Bibliology (Bible)

Theology Proper (God)

Christology (Christ)

Anthropology (Man and sin)

Pneumatology (Holy Spirit)

Soteriology (salvation)

Angelology (angels)

Demonology (demons)

Eschatology (future)

Apologetics (proofs of Christianity and Bible)

Comparative Religion (cults, sects & other religions)

Christian Living


Church History




Of course you can add as many sub-folders as you want. It probably sounds complicated, but the further you break your library down, the easier it is to find modules when you want them. As an example, here are the folders I’ve build under “NT Exposition -- Gospels/Acts”






Other Gospel Topics


Life of Christ

Teachings of Jesus

Sermon on the Mount

Olivet Discourse



Synoptic Problem (Why 4 Gospels)



You may not need (nor want!) that many sub-folders, but I like having that much organization in my library.


Once your folders are all built, simply drag a book title from the left side of the window to the appropriate folder on the right side of the window. You can place them where you want them to stay, or you can “sort siblings/children” by right clicking in any one folder. CAREFUL: if you “sort children”, all of the children get sorted!


IMPORTANT: You’ll need to name your Module Set. This will become your main set. I call mine “DDT Books.” You could call it “Main Library,” or “All My Books,” or “Study-geddon” (well, probably not that) or something like that. See the little “save this set” checkbox? Put the name of your set just below it, make sure the box is checked, and click “OK.” Once finished and saved, you’ve just “locked up your first library” (if that confuses you, you should re-read this blog from the beginning. . . .)


Now, do you want to keep your first module set, but “tweak it” and build a second set? First, select your module set (probably already selected...) by clicking open the “Define Module Sets” green button and selecting your new module set (whatever you just called it).


Click open the green “Define Module Sets” button again, and this time choose “Define module sets...”. You are now looking at the “Define Module Sets” window. Go ahead and make your modifications, but when you save it - make sure you change the name to something different. Maybe “Main Library 2” or something equally inventive. Once saved, you now have your second locked and loaded library room to work with.


Now, let’s narrow one set down. A module set containing only your doctrinal materials will be very helpful. So, select your main module set (whatever you called it), open it, then “Define Module Sets...” and let’s modify it.


“Collapse” all of the folders in the right window (by clicking the “minus boxes” on your main folders), and then delete all of them except for the doctrinal folder. Now change the name under the “save...” check box to something like “Doctrinal Modules” (or whatever). Now when you save it, only your doctrinal subset will be available (and modifiable!). It’s your third locked and ready library room!


Searching By Module Sets


Now you can perform that search for “Replacement Theology” and search only the books in your Doctrinal Modules module set. As your library grows, the ability to narrow your search parameters will greatly speed up your Bible study. Here’s how:


Open a “book search” window (the purple one). Push the drop down arrow on the left side of the search box. There you can choose which set you want to search. Choose your Doctrinal Modules set (or whatever you called it) and perform that “Replacement Theology” search.


(WARNING: The first time a module is searched, TW builds an index for that module. So, the first time you search with TW, it will take several minutes because it is building indices for each module. Relax. Once this is accomplished, TW saves the index, and each module is searched much faster forever afterwards. Amen.)




The bigger your library is to start with, the bigger the task is in getting started. But the very first time you go looking for a needed module, you’ll begin to reap the dividends of an organized library. Every time you perform a targeted search, the time you’ll not be twiddling your thumbs will make you glad you organized your sets.


TW is fine software. The ability to be able to organize your library is just one of the reasons that TW is the best free Bible software on the market (and better than just about every $$$ Bible software available, too!).