How to Write an Obituary

Creating an obituary for a loved one can seem like an overwhelming task. However, writing an obituary is usually a necessary task that will need to be taken care of, and it doesn’t need to be as difficult as it may seem. This article will provide some tips for how to write an obituary.

What is an Obituary?

A simple obituary definition is that it is a notice of death. The obituary provides a short description of the deceased’s life, which is then published in the newspaper. In some cases, the obituary as well as the fees required to publish it are handled by the funeral home. More often, the family takes the responsibility of writing an obituary.

Look for Examples

Before you beginning writing, look at your local newspaper. This will give you an idea of what information you should use. Looking at your local paper will also help you to figure out what writing style and format the newspaper prefers when publishing.

Gather Your Information

More often than not, obituaries are not overly sweet and detailed stories of a person’s life. Instead, they offer the facts and details that will help others in the community recognize the individual. The following information should be included in the notice.

•   Full name of the deceased

•   Date of birth and age

•   Hometown and town where the individual resided

•   Military record, if relevant

•   Notable accomplishments

•   Surviving family members (including spouse, parents, children, grandchildren)

•   Information about the viewing, if relevant

•   Information about funeral services

Writing and Editing an Obituary

In most cases, the obituary should be short and to the point, offering the information without overly embellished language. Be sure to stick with the newspaper’s guidelines to ensure that your writing won’t be cut down by editors before being published.

After writing the obituary, ask another family member or a close friend of the deceased to read over it. This is the best way to prevent spelling errors in names and places, and to avoid any other mistakes that may be present.

Submitting the Obituary

After the obituary is written, it will need to be sent to the paper to be edited and published. Be sure to type the document rather than submitting a handwritten copy that may not be legible. The information can also be e-mailed to the newspaper. After it is published, check for any obvious mistakes and let the paper know of any corrections that should be made.


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Tips on Writing An Obituary
  • Look For Examples: check the local newspaper to give you an idea of what information should be included in an obituary.
  • Gather Your Information: include infor such as the fullname of the deceased, date of birth and age, name of hometown, notable acocmplishments, and surviving family members.
  • Writing And Editing: obituaries shold be short and to the point. It is suggested that you have a friend or family member edit the obituary before you submit it to the local newspaper. 
  • Submitting The Obituary: most newspapers require that obituaries be submitted in document form rather than a handwritten copy.