Structured Shorter Catechism

The Structured Shorter Catechism is a new version of the historic Westminster Shorter Catechism, formatted in such a way as to reveal the organization of each question and answer, to the end of assisting memorization. There’s a legend at the bottom of the first page, but the features of the Structured Shorter Catechism are:

  • Keywords in bold
  • Repetition (in order) illustrated with blue
  • Repetition (out of order), or contrast, illustrated with red
  • Answers that don’t begin by repeating their Question are in green
  • Structure is illustrated by alignment

Here is a screenshot of SC16 that illustrates all of the features in one Q&A:

According to the overall organization of the catechism, there are three parts:

  1. What man is to believe concerning God (1-38)
  2. What duty God requires of man (10 commandments) (39-82)
  3. Faith, Repentance, Word, Sacraments, and Prayer (83-107)

Here’s the full-size PDF. It’s 24 pages, but two of them are blank, for the purpose of keeping things at 8 pages per part for the folded versions below. I can’t imagine any use for a printout this big, except maybe taping onto the wall of a Sunday School room.

Here’s the quarter-size PDF. It’s 6 pages. It should be pretty clear how to fold them once you print them out, so that you end up with six 4-page booklets, each of which has page 1 on the front cover, pages 2-3 inside, and page 4 on the back. Or, if you can wrangle double-sided printer, then you can get it onto 3 sheets with one part of the catechism each — but then you have to inside-out your booklets to get to the backside. But three quarter-folded sheets of paper is pretty convenient for a back-pocket.

Here’s the eigth-size PDF, my favorite. It’s 3 pages, one page per part. The print is quite small, so you need good eyes (and a good color printer). If you can print double-sided, then you can get it down to two sheets — but again, you would have to inside-out your folding sometimes. Speaking of which, here is a link that tells you how to do the complicated PocketMod folding. That folding is kind of magical — it would make a good craft for a kid, which might also inspire them to actually use it for memorization! If you teach Sunday School, why not (have your church office) print out copies for all your students? Keep a stack of unfolded printouts for visitors, forgetters, etc. That’s one of the principal advantages of this format, the disposability. If your copy gets lost, torn, folded, spindled, or mutilated, just chuck it and print another!

4 Responses to “Structured Shorter Catechism”

  1. […] Here‘s a way of organizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism that looks like it might make it easier to memorize.  If nothing else, it’s a useful analysis of the structure of the catechism. […]

  2. […] [Update: This old post describes my first draft, which only covered "What man is to believe concerning God" (Q 1-38). The finished, complete version can be found at this link] […]

  3. Matt Gumm Says:

    I love these. How did you get the PDFs formatted that way?

  4. RubeRad Says:

    Great! I’m glad you enjoy them!

    The formatting of the text (color, alignment) I did by hand, and saved it directly into the full-size PDF. To get the full-size PDF into the smaller formats, I wrote a Perl script using the CPAN module PDF::Reuse to rotate/shrink as needed.

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