2 Steps to Preparing an Obituary

An obituary includes a biographical outline and possibly a picture of the deceased. As early as possible, begin compiling the information for the obituary. Friends and family can help write this.

The following list is a guide rather than a requirement.

WHN TIP – Funeral Home Assistance? Some funeral homes will handle placing obituaries and notices for you. Check if this is part of their service.

Step 1: Gather the Personal Details 

WHN TIP – Read Examples: Get a daily paper and review obituaries for that day; use elements from ones that best fit with what you need.

  1. Vital statistics about the deceased (date of birth and death)
  2. Information about all appropriate memorial, funeral, and burial services: location, including the phone number, day and time of services.
  3. Address of where to send floral tributes, requests for donations to charity, if any
  4. Photo (optional, often additional costs)
  5. Cause of death (optional)
  6. Place of residence and length of time the person lived in the area
  7. Education, work and volunteer history, military experience
  8. Memberships in local organizations; religious or other affiliations
  9. Honors and awards
  10. Names of all spouses, including marriages that ended in divorce or death. If a spouse is deceased, the year of death.
  11. Names, relationships and current towns of residence for surviving spouse,  children, parents and siblings
  12. Number of surviving grandchildren and great-grandchildren
  13. Names and relationship of close relatives who are deceased: siblings, children, grandchildren

WHN TIP – Do It Yourself: You can place an obituary yourself; many newspapers are very helpful and answer any questions you may have.

Step 2: Ask About Newspaper Deadline and Fees

WHN TIP – Obituary Expense: The definition of “obituary” and “death notice” vary from paper to paper. Some newspapers offer these free, others charge by the line. Find out what your paper(s) charge before placing an obituary — it can get very expensive.

  1. Call to find out the deadline for the paper(s) you choose to run the notice in. For placement in the next day’s paper, obituary deadlines are generally between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day.
  2. Ask how the fees are calculated. (This is usually a per-line rate for both copy and a photo.)
  3. Ask if a short 6–8 line announcement of a death or of pending services is printed free of charge — answers vary.
  4. Ask how the payment must be made: cash, check or credit card.
  5. Want the obituary in a home or birth town or second place of residence? Check that newspaper’s deadline and fees.

WHN TIP — Review if Possible: If there’s time, ask for a proof copy from the newspaper. Double-check spelling of all names, all dates, photo caption and the headline.