When ancient prophets stood in a royal hall or public square and proclaimed their message, the audience understood. Translators who believe they can convey that same immediacy avoid notes, commentaries and cross-references. They try to create a text as accessible as a newspaper. One mandate of the KJV was that it contain no notes. The Bible in Basic English (1950) is limited to a 1,000-word vocabulary.

The NJPS has brief footnotes giving alternative readings and some cross-references. The Jerusalem Bible notes are longer and often include interpretation or doctrine. The Good News Bible avoids footnotes, but introduces headings and cross-references; an appendix identifies names and technical terms. The NRSV makes its explanatory titles less intrusive by putting them at the bottom of the page. Special study editions are also available, for example, the Oxford Annotated Bible for the RSV and the NRSV, and the Cambridge Bible Commentary and Oxford Study Bible for the NEB. Study aids may include maps, charts and illustrations as well as background essays and commentary.

Several multivolume sets offer line-by-line commentaries, for example the nondenominational Anchor Bible series and Hermeneia, and the Jewish Soncino Books of the Bible, Artscroll Tanach and JPS Torah Commentary. Several of these present facing bilingual texts and grammatical notes.

Word-by-word study is possible with NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament by John Kohlenberger and The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament by Robert Brown and Philip Comfort.

Valuable adjuncts to Bible study include Bible atlases, with maps related to specific events, times and places in the Bible; Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, each with definitions and explanations of specific words or subjects from the Bible; and concordances listing almost all the words contained in the Bible with their occurences by chapter and verse, usually with context.