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Obituary Writing  

The Ultimate Guide to Publishing an Obituary Online & in Newspapers

Written By Lastly.com

And Why It Makes Sense to Publish Obituaries Online


Do you need to publish an obituary?
Would you like to learn more about the obituary publishing process?
Wonder if you should publish an obituary online?


How to Publish Obituaries in Newspapers

A newspaper obituary is a very brief account of the life of the deceased person, including some biographical information and details about upcoming services. A typical obituary will include the following items:

  • Full name of the deceased (including maiden name, nickname, or any other name by which the deceased may be known)
  • Dates and locations of birth, marriage(s), and death
  • Cause of death and when they died (optional)
  • Schools attended
  • Military service (if applicable)
  • Place of employment and position held (current or last employer)
  • Membership in organizations (religious, civic, fraternal)
  • Hobbies and special interests
  • Name of husband, wife or significant other
  • Other family members and special friends left behind (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings, parents, etc.)
  • Those important people who preceded him/her in death
  • Funeral announcements or any information about an upcoming funeral service or memorial services legacy
  • Details for sending flowers or making donations on behalf of your loved one

The obituary or death notice may be submitted to a newspaper by either a family member of the deceased or by someone who is acting on the family’s behalf, such as a friend or the funeral director. Some places may have an obituary notice regulation.


Click here to download ebook: How to Write an Obituary


You’ll need to contact each individual newspaper for their obituary (also called an obit) guidelines. Depending on the newspaper, they may have specific requirements for length and format as well as submission deadlines for a particular print date. Some publications may not publish obituary listings or death notices at all. Generally, obituary submission deadlines will run two to three days prior to the publication date.

You can visit the newspaper’s website where you will probably find all of the information you need, as well as links to forms and other pertinent information. If you don’t find any information online or in a recent issue of the newspaper regarding the submission of obituaries, then call the obits editor directly. The editor will be accustomed to speaking to people after the loss of a loved one, so he/she will typically be very helpful and understanding.


Payments and Other Details When Publishing an Obituary

Some publications may charge you for the placement of an obituary or death notice in their newspaper, magazine or journal. Others may offer free obituaries. How much they charge and whether they charge to publish your obituary will vary from one publication to the next. In addition, a publication may charge extra for obituaries that run longer than their recommended word count. These papers typically charge for space in order to cover their printing costs and pay their staff, writers, and editors.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how you submit any photos, forms or copy for the obituary. The editor may require a PDF and JPG if submitted online or only in-person, hard copy submissions. Check with the website or with the editor first before making any assumptions. Your attention to these details will help ensure the timely publication of your obituary.

Note that your funeral home may offer the submission of your obituary as part of their services. Some families will utilize this convenience in order to alleviate stress and reduce the number of tasks during their time of grief.


Where to Publish an Obituary

Depending on who your loved one was or what they did for a living, there may be a variety of publications that will feature their obituary.

  • Local newspapers
  • National newspapers
  • Community publications
  • Industry publications
  • Funeral home website
  • Church/religious publications
  • Church website
  • And more!


How to Publish Obituaries Online

The death of a loved one is often a private thing to be experienced only by family members and close friends. If this is your preference, either for your own obituary or for your family member’s obituary (if their wishes were not previously expressed), this is completely natural. However, we do live in a world where most information is stored online, and news and other events are experienced online.

The first place to look for online resources to publish your obituary is with your local newspaper. Often, the newspaper you plan to print your obituary in will also publish it on their website. Second, we recommend that you inquire with your funeral home. Many funeral homes will also publish your obituary on their website as a part of their services. Third, you may want to check with any other community and church/religious resources. In addition, many websites offer the opportunity to publish your loved one’s full or partial obituary free of charge. Simply perform an internet search and look through the results for appropriate places to publish your loved one’s obituary.

In summary, check out these resources for publishing your obituary online.

  • Newspapers
  • Funeral home
  • Church
  • Community resources/organizations
  • Other online publications/websites


Advantage of Printed Obituaries

Printed obituaries are a tried-and-true method of getting the word out about your loved one’s passing. Even with the advancement of modern technology, there are still several advantages to printing your obituary.

Some readers (especially older ones) may have difficulty understanding technology. Those who aren’t tech savvy may still rely on reading the obituaries in the daily paper.

Sometimes hurtful comments can be made online by people who have a grudge or want to make themselves feel better. If you do decide to print online, you may want to investigate all possible privacy settings.

Obituaries help find ancestors. Printed newspapers are typically kept in historical archives and public libraries. So, your loved one’s obituary can be preserved for historical purposes and records, such as genealogical searches.


Advantages of Online Obituaries Over Printed Obituaries

As you may well know, newspapers are throw-away items. If a newspaper clipping is saved, the obituary can become lost or accidentally damaged. Even if kept in a safe place, the paper itself will deteriorate over time due to the acid content in the paper.

So, knowing that a newspaper publication of your loved one’s obituary may have a very limited longevity, you may want to opt for online publication. The online publication of your loved one’s obituary or death notice—depending on the website—may be either a temporary or permanent solution.

Some websites may store your loved one’s obituary as part of their permanent database. Other websites may only keep it accessible online for a designated time period. Either way, you are offering a more permanent memory of your loved one. Family members and friends can choose to print the obituary on better quality paper to preserve it. Or they can bookmark the link for future reference or download or capture a screenshot of the obituary for permanent digital safekeeping.

Here are a few more reasons to preserve your loved one’s obituary online:

  • You have more control over the creation of an online obituary.
  • Online obituaries are more easily shared.
  • Online obituaries can be interactive.
  • Online obituaries are more visually appealing.
  • Online obituaries are less expensive.
  • Online obituaries are more environmentally friendly.
  • It is very easy for people to conduct an obituary search online.


Has Obituary Writing Changed Over Time?

Years ago, writing an obituary simply consisted of the regurgitation of basic facts, family members’ names, and arrangement details. However, recent years have seen people getting more creative as they tell the story (however brief) of their loved one’s life. You’ll still see the regular variety of obituaries and death notices in the paper. But from time to time, you’ll probably notice one or two that stand out from the rest.

Some of today’s newspaper obituaries add humor and slice of life stories. The intent of family members is to include the personality of their loved one in the telling of their story. By using humor in posted obituaries and personality in a death notice, you create a treasured piece to passed on to others, to share amongst each other and laugh together, and a written piece to return to numerous times over the coming years.

If you want to learn more about how to write an obituary, check out our guide to writing an obituary.


How Does Lastly.com Help Remember a Deceased Relative?

Expressing your sadness during a time of loss is an essential part of the grieving process. Lastly.com helps you through that process before, during, and after the passing of a loved one.

Through Lastly.com, you can create a full online profile for yourself or for a loved one to be archived and passed on forever. Lastly.com makes it easy to upload photos, videos, and recordings and to write a short story to go with each uploaded item. Your online Lastly.com profile can be as detailed or as basic as you’d like it to be.

If you have an older loved one, Lastly.com helps give you the opportunity to preserve their memories before they are forever lost. Plus, designated family members can assist and take part in the process, so the task doesn’t lie on one person’s shoulders. In addition, you can create an online story for yourself—starting today!


How to Write an Obituary

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