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How to Format Your Sermon to Maximize Personal Connection

format your sermon

What do the sermon notes you preach from look like? Have you ever thought about it? The way you format your sermon notes will partly determine how much you look at them. And just to be clear, less is far more here. I want to help you look at your sermon notes less and less so you can engage with the congregation more and more. Deal?

Format Your Sermon Notes to Look at Them Less

This approach will work whether you manuscript your message, outline it, or do a mixture of both like I do. In fact, I have an entire chapter on how to move from manuscript to preaching notes in Preaching Sticky Sermons. If you want to use that approach, I highly recommend you grab a copy and go to that chapter right away.

So let’s dive into the various formatting best practices to get our sermon notes formatted in a way that allows us and even encourages us to look at them less.


If I could encourage you to do one thing, it would be to get used to using headings in your notes. What is a heading? Simply bigger, bolder text that gives a section a title.

Using headings makes my life enormously easier when it comes to understanding my message in a way that I don’t need my sermon notes.

The more descriptive you can be with your headings, the easier it will be to get the section that follows in your head so you don’t have to look at the section.

To take this a step further, don’t just use one size of a heading, but also use sub-headings which are going to be smaller than your first heading, but bolder and bigger than your body text.

Using sub-headings is especially helpful when it comes to the section of your sermon where you’re spending a lot of time exegeting Scripture. Here’s how this could play out (just showing headings) as you format your sermon notes:

Scripture Text, Section 1

Teaching Section 1

Teaching Section 2

Scripture Text, Section 2

Teaching Section 1

Teaching Section 2