Special thanks to Dustin Battles for contributing this helpful review.
Maybe you’ve thought about purchasing Bible software for yourself or for a friend this Christmas. There are lots of choices but I’m going to narrow down to two major competitors—Accordance and Logos. Both programs can run on either Mac or Windows. Both do much the same thing. So how to decide?
Alongside the proper use of hard copy books*, I believe Bible software is an extremely helpful tool for pastor, scholar, and layperson alike. I’ve used both Logos and Accordance for many years. Instead of just listing features, I’ll examine trends of each company—where the software seems to be going and what makes each truly different.
I’ve chosen 10 categories from most to least important. Remember, though—there’s no wrong conclusion. Investing and using good resources in Bible software can help you understand God’s Word and know him better.
1. User interface
- Logos loves its users to know how many cool things they can do. They’ve made it easier in version 6 for the layperson who doesn’t know original biblical languages.
- Accordance is simple enough that a brand new user can quickly figure out how to basic things; yet its deep enough that the most advanced user can excel.
If you don’t like the user interface on software, you’re going to hate it every time you use it. For me, I find Accordance’s interface much simpler and easier to use, and definitely more customizable. Its options are more clearly marked, and the Research feature is much simpler to understand. Plus, Accordance 11 allows you to organize however you like. For instance, the library has clearly marked categories such as Dictionaries, Commentaries, Greek Lexicons, Apparatus, and so forth—not to mention any books you import or public domain modules (more on that later).
Logos includes a way for you to buy books right from the search results. While I realize you can turn that feature off, I don’t really care for them, as they feel like ads to me. The passage guides can be helpful, but the new “Info Pane” in Accordance 11 does the same thing at a much quicker pace. However, I will say that the new internet search results of manuscripts in Logos 6 are handy.
2. System resources (Mac/PC)
- Logos has so many neat books and modules, but they use every bit of your computer’s resources they can get.
- Accordance is so incredibly fast and sleek that it will run even on older computers.
Speed and RAM usage depends a lot on the version of the software that’s currently out. But each version of Accordance tends to run very quickly—even on older machines—while each version of Logos tends to run best only on brand new machines. Even on a slightly older computer you’ll get lots of lag-time with Logos.
For instance, right now I have 8 tabs of similar content open on both Logos and Accordance. Accordance is using 83mb of RAM; Logos is using 540mb. If you’re not into computers, we’ll say Accordance would be like a car going 6 times as far on the same tank of gas. Also, Logos’s updates seemingly never end and take up oodles of hard drive space, all while taking an eternity to index. Accordance’s updates occur less often and are quick to install and index.
- Logos buys rights for practically everything new that comes out, and even scans old works that are hardly available anywhere else.
- Accordance is more selective in its resource, but excels in original language resources, such as lexicons and dictionaries.
Both Logos and Accordance have a thousands of resources. But Logos definitely has more. Logos is like the Amazon of Christian books. Nearly all the resources I absolutely have to have are available on Accordance, but Logos has a far wider selection.
- Logos allows you to save a “layout” inside the app itself.
- Accordance lets you customize to your heart’s desire. Save your “workspace” files anywhere and open them next time exactly how they were.
Accordance is a customizer’s dream. It’s designed so you can work how you want. There’s a keyboard shortcut for everything. Both apps allow you to move windows and change settings, but Accordance is more far flexible. Accordance lets you make the pane big, small, or even stick it in the corner. You can also customize the background color, the font, whether you want superscripts or red letter or not, or even whether you want verse numbers at all. It’s amazingly flexible.
When I use Microsoft Word or Apple Pages, I save that file into the cloud (e.g., Dropbox) so I can access it later. Similarly, I save my workspaces in Accordance to a certain location in folders so I can access it later, if need be. On Logos you can save workspaces/layouts, but you’re mostly restricted to opening those “layouts” in the actual app, rather than inside a file system.
- Logos has hundreds of sales going on at any given moment, including sales on “pre-pubs” (pre-publication books). They also have discounts for students, and give away a free book every month.
- Accordance consistently has stellar sale prices, and has discounts available for students, pastors, missionaries, and even those on a Mac users email list.
Both Accordance and Logos price individual modules very high. For instance, a single first-rate commentary can be as much as $60! That’s a lot of money! Both companies do it this way so that you don’t buy individual modules, but software bundles and packages. Thankfully, this means modules are much more affordable when bundled together.
Logos’s free book of the month has helped me add volumes by some excellent authors such as John Piper, John Owen, and Richard Sibbes. Yet for me, Accordance has the upper hand because their awesome sales are often just resources I want or need. For instance, I recently purchased (via their monthly payment plan) the entire NICOT/NICNT series on sale for Accordance for $780, while Logos was selling it for $1700! That’s almost a $1000 difference.
6. New features
- Logos prides itself in rolling out cool new features with each release.
- Accordance focuses more on speed and stability, while newer features come around a bit less often.
Accordance does have new features, but they typically come out with less fanfare than Logos. For instance, Accordance now allows you to type a Scripture reference in nearly any writing app, click a button (or type a keyboard shortcut) and, in less than a second, it pastes the contents of the verse. Simply brilliant.
Yet Logos consistently has the newest, coolest features available. One of the coolest features of Logos 6 is the “Propositional Outlines” feature. It displays the phrases’ use at a glance. Greek teachers just shuttered as soon as they saw this feature.
- Logos invests heavily in advertisement, videos, and a top-notch website.
- Accordance markets less aggressively, but does have helpful podcasts, Youtube videos, and a blog.
Logos markets extremely well. Their product(s) certainly look impressive and enticing. Perhaps this is one reason why Logos has more customers than Accordance. (The other, possibly, is that Logos became available for multiple operating systems before Accordance did.)
Perhaps if Accordance spent more time, money, and energy on promoting their product, they would be much bigger than they are now. On the other hand, if you ever need support with Accordance, prepare to be blown away. They will personally walk you through any problems you have until it’s completely resolved. Accordance sets a high standard for customer support.
8. Mobile app
- Logos’s free mobile apps for any platform are top-of-the-line in every regard.
- Accordance has a free mobile app for iOS (with Android coming soon), but it’s not as easy to use as Logos’s.
Logos’s mobile apps are fabulous. If you’re an iPad user, you will love their app. It’s simple but quick, and you can choose to either read it without download, or just download the book to your device for offline use.
Accordance seems to be a step behind in mobile apps, both in user interface and capability. For instance, Logos has a left/right page turning feature (rather than scrolling), which Accordance still doesn’t have (though it is rumored that it is coming soon).
9. User notes/highlights
- Logos’s personal notes and highlights are saved on Logos’s server.
- Accordance’s personal notes and highlights are saved on your own Dropbox account.
Both programs allow you to make personal notes and highlights on Scripture. In Logos, both highlights and personal notes are located in Documents —> Notes, and are stored on Logos’s servers.
Accordance’s personal notes and highlights are either saved locally on your hard drive, or via Dropbox. In fact, if you ever want to use Accordance’s notes outside of the app, you can just drag it to a text editor like TextEdit for Mac and you can save it wherever and however you want to.
10. Resource importability/exportability
- Logos allows you to import Word (.docx) documents, but occasionally has errors. Logos even allows you to export a book (as long as it isn’t too big) to your Kindle!
- Accordance has an import tool that allows you to import text (.txt) and web (html) files. And they have an awesome free resources page! Accordance allows you to export/paste in all sorts of ways.
One of my biggest frustrations with both apps is the difficulty of import ebooks in EPUB and MOBI format. I realize each company has to make money, but really guys, it’s time to import other file types besides DOCX (Logos) and HTML or TXT (Accordance). Logos is slightly better in this regard, as it maintains style headings from DOCXs a bit better, but neither is stellar.
Accordance, on the other hand, is slightly better when it comes to exporting text or notes. You can just grab the text file of your personal notes (as previously mentioned). As for pasting of verses, Scripture references, and citation, Accordance is much smoother and simpler than Logos.
Since you probably weren’t counting, here’s the breakdown, including a corresponding point value for each number:
1. User interface – Accordance (10)
2. System (Mac/PC) resources – Accordance (9)
3. Resources – Logos (8)
4. Selling – Accordance (7)
5. New features – Logos (6)
6. Marketing – Logos (5)
7. Mobile app – Logos (4)
8. File-saving – Accordance (3)
9. User notes/Highlights – Even (2)
10. Resource importability/exportability – Even (1)
Final count: Accordance – 32 Logos – 26
As you can tell, it’s a close race! But for me, Accordance excels in the areas where it counts. It’s incredibly fast, simple yet deep, and totally customizable. Logos definitely has cool features and lots of customers, but when I need to do biblical research and sermon preparation, I turn to Accordance first.
But will I stop using Logos? Not likely. Several years ago I was given a number of excellent resources for Logos that I enjoy using. I just wish Logos was more like Accordance!
Bible software has changed a lot, and likely will change a lot in the years to come. Hopefully the above trends will assist you when investing in Bible software. When it comes down to it, you can’t go wrong with either company. Both are helpful tools to know God’s Word and biblical resources.
Dustin Battles is the pastoral assistant at Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, PA. Dustin recently earned a Master of Divinity from Bob Jones University Seminary. During seminary he learned to love reading the Puritans, such as Thomas Watson and John Owen. He enjoys writing hymns and sacred texts, listening to choral music, and, most of all, spending time with his wife, Megan.
* Electronic is the way to go—for some things. Commentaries, language works… yes, go electronic all the way. The newest book by Piper, Carson, Mohler, MacArthur, etc.—buy the hard copy. Things that are meant to be read cover-to-cover should be purchased in hard copy. Things that are meant to be used in reference should be purchased electronically.
** I was provided a complimentary review copy of Accordance, but was not required to give a positive review. Despite initial interest by Logos, I was unable to get an answer for this review; thus I reviewed Logos 6 using the beta given to me prior to its release.