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Death Announcement -- Submitting Obituary to Newspapers

The obituary that gets published in the local newspaper is often shorter than the obituary included in funeral programs or other printed funeral material.  Below is a quick guide for submitting obituaries or death announcements to the newspaper.  Also see our article on Funeral Announcements.

1.  If you are working with a funeral home, start there first.  Funeral homes and funeral directors often have all necessary forms for submitting obituaries to local newspapers.  Also, some funeral homes will include a short obituary listing with the price of the funeral.  They also may have templates to help you write the obituary.  

Create an Obituary Program

2.  Get a copy of the local newspaper and look at obituaries that are currently published.  This can give you an idea of the "style" and format that the newspaper prefers for the obituary.  This may also help give you an idea of how much you will want to write, and may give you an  idea of word count estimates and column inch sizes.  

3.  Set a Budget --Set a price limit if you're on a budget. Newspapers may charge by the column inch or by the word, so long obituaries and tributes can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars.  As stated above, funeral homes may include a basic obituary as part of the funeral package. If your funeral home will be submitting the obituary, ask them about the word limits, and how much it will cost you for each additional word or inch. Refer to your copy of the newspaper to view printed obituaries to get an idea of the font and column size to better give you an idea on how many words will fit per inch.  To cut costs, consider using following the concise obituary template below:

Sample Obituary Template for Newspapers

"NAME", "AGE", of PLACE OF RESIDENCE,  died (can also say "passed away", went to heaven, etc.), "DATE" (can include optional cause of death).

"HE/SHE"
was born ("PLACE", "DATE OF BIRTH". "NAME" graduated from "SCHOOL" and received "DEGREE" from "SCHOOL". "HE/SHE" was married to "SPOUSE'S NAME" ( wedding date is optional).

INCLUDE OPTIONAL BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION HERE: Employment history, accomplishments, organizations, activities, etc.

"HE/SHE" was survived by "CHILDREN", "GRANDCHILDREN", ETC. (Try to separate each name with a comma or semicolon)

Funeral arrangements will be held "TIME", "DATE" and "PLACE".

Also Remember:

  • Be sure to inquire about prices for photos.  Photos can often cost as much between $50 - $100 in addition to the obituary costs.

  • Some newspapers also offer Online-only Death Announcements for a fee.

  • Some papers run a limited number of lines, or a brief announcement for free.

  • Some papers (usually smaller ones) may publish a longer obituary for free.

  • Most papers will publish newsworthy obituaries (deaths of public figures, prominent locals and celebrities) for free.


4.  Make sure you know submission rules for newspaper -- Pay close attention to deadlines for publishing obituaries.

5.  PROOF PROOF PROOF -- Take time to have someone else read the obituary BEFORE you submit it.

6. Try to submit via email instead of fax or handwritten.  This will cut down on errors.

Read other articles on writing an obituary or sample obituaries.

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