How To Write An Obituary

How To Write An Obituary

An obituary is what you read placed in a newspaper, either in print and/or online. As they are usually written by editorial staff (For large newspapers), they tend to cover high profile members of the community. However depending on the newspaper you wish to write in, there may be an option to write an obituary for your loved one.

Difference between a death notice and obituary

Depending on which newspaper you’re looking at, both terms are sometimes used interchangeably- so its always a good idea to check.

Death notices

These are short, paid announcements submitted by friends or family. It’s usually made up of personal information, details about the upcoming funeral service, and possibly some brief details about their life. If you want to find out more about death notices, this guide “how to write a death notice” will provide you with some valuable information.


Tend to be longer editorial pieces about the deceased, usually written by the staff at a newspaper. As mentioned earlier, editors will generally write these pieces about high profile members of the community. However many smaller newspapers will allow you to produce an obituary.

What information to include

If you are able write an obituary for your loved one, there’s a set of general rules that will help you write a fitting tribute. The most common things that will go into an obituary are:

  • Full name of deceased, and nickname in “quotes” if important
  • Date of birth & age
  • Career or favourite hobby
  • Photograph if allowed
  • Age when they passed away
  • Personal traits
  • Where they were living, including city or territory, at death
  • Spouse or partner’s name, siblings, children, and grandchildren
  • Location and time of funeral service
  • Where donations can be made
  • Person of contact or funeral home
  • Achievements
  • Memorable stories

Advice on writing an obituary

Decide on a newspaper

Firstly work out where you want to publish the obituary. Remember that the main purpose of the obituary is for friends and family within the community to see the piece. There’s no point including the obituary in a large newspaper if none of your friends and family read it. Ask around and try to find out what newspaper (whether offline or online) will provide the most exposure.

Ask your funeral director

Another good initial thing to do is ask your funeral director about writing an obituary. Some directors might bundle this into their funeral package or offer obituary writing as an extra service. If they offer help with this service, it could be a good choice if you’re finding the process daunting.


If you’re working on a budget, do some research. Certain items, like photographs or additional lines, might result in a more expensive piece. Once you have decided on a newspaper, pay careful attention to the costing structure and plan your content around this.


Pay attention to the deadline of when a newspaper needs the obituary. Doing it early and submitting it with time to spare is recommended. This will give you time to have another person proof read it before submitting it, in order to avoid any errors or missing details.