Many tools are much easier to use than they initially appear. A citation index is one of these tools. Do not let it frighten you.
Anyone preparing a talk, lesson or anything else where they need to use the scriptures, could benefit from a citation index. You do not have to know what citation or even index means. Perhaps it is better if you do not, because the name alone can scare people.
What Is A Citation Index?
Simply a different way of finding something, think of it as you would a reverse phone directory. Instead of searching for someone’s phone number via their name or address, you first find a phone number and then look for the name or address it is associated with. Using a citation index is simply a different way of looking for something.
In a scripture citation index, you start with a scripture and you look for where someone has used that scripture in a talk, lesson or some other forum.
Why Do I Need a Scripture Citation Index?
You need a scripture citation index for the following:
- You are assigned a talk based around a particular scripture and need to find teachings about that scripture from Conference addresses.
- You remember hearing a General Authority explain a particular scripture but you cannot find the talk that contains the remarks you remember, but you remember the scripture.
- You encounter a scripture(s) in your scripture study and you do not understand it fully. You want to find guidance on this scripture(s) from Church leaders.
Where is the LDS Scripture Citation Index?
Located on a Brigham Young University (BYU) website, the LDS Scripture Citation Index was created by two BYU professors and is still maintained by them. Although an independent effort, the Church has actually endorsed it in a Church magazine. The Church itself does not offer a citation index.
Additional good news: the General Conference records go back to 1942, not 1971 like the Church’s website, so your research can extend back further than if you use the Church’s official website.
How Does the LDS Scripture Citation Index Work?
1. Find A Scripture
Bring up the website and you will see two columns: a smaller left one and a larger right one that contains two parts. Concentrate on the left column first. Identify a scripture you want to use like Mosiah 2:24:
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
Go to the LDS Scripture Citation Index Website. In the left column look at the scriptures list:
+Old Testament 
+New Testament 
+Book of Mormon 
+Doctrine and Covenants 
+Pearl of Great Price 
Click on the plus sign by the Book of Mormon. All the names of the books inside The Book of Mormon will appear in a list. Click the plus sign in front of the Book of Mosiah and all the chapters in Mosiah will list. Click on Chapter 2 and all the verses in Chapter 2 will list. You should see this:
Mosiah 2:24 (05−O,92,WYK) (05−A,34,LGR)(91−A,67,HBE)(77−O,82,VLB)(70−A,141,HR)(299,JS)
2. Click on the Scripture
Click on “Mosiah 2:24” and look in the right column, in the lower portion. You will see the text of the verse highlighted along with all the other verses in Chapter 2, but they will not be highlighted. You can scroll up and down throughout the chapter, still seeing verse 24 as highlighted.
3. Click on the References
Go back to the left column at the references that appear to the right of “Mosiah 2:24.” Here they are:
They are not as complex as they look. In fact, all you have to do is click on them, one at a time, to determine what they mean. Look at the upper portion of the right column and the full references and text will appear. Click on and consider the first one in the list:
This reference means that in 2005, in the October General Conference on page 92 of the Ensign, Elder Won Yong Ko quoted the scripture in Mosiah 2:24. In the upper right hand portion of your screen you will see the highlighted quote and can scroll through the entire talk by Elder Won Yong Ko and read the reference in context.
So, what does (299,JS) mean? That is the last item on the list for references referring to the example scripture Mosiah 2:24.
Besides General Conference, the Citation Index also refers you to other materials such as The Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith referred to Mosiah 2:24 and his guidance is on page 299 of his scriptural teachings.
Clicking on (299,JS) brings up a new window where you read his reference to Mosiah 2:24 in context and scroll through his other teachings.
What Else Can I Do With the LDS Scripture Citation Index?
Besides General Conference texts and the Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, you can also search the Journal of Discourses. Look at the top of the left column and you will see a series of seven icons.
These seven icons cover what you can do on the index. Hover over the icon to see a text explanation of the icon or click on it to explore.
- Journal of Discourses
- Search Features
- Set Options and Filters
- Send Feedback
This article only covers a few basic things on the Scriptures icon, which is the default when you access the citation index website. You can refine your search using other features, options or filters. You can also search via a particular speaker you are interested in.
Once you feel comfortable with the basics, branch out and experiment with these other features. If you want to use the LDS Scripture Citation Index on an Android device, there is an app!