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Obituary Writing Tips

The following headlines are meant as a general guide. Make sure that you have considered everything that is usually covered, then select what you would like to include and also decide what you would like to use.

For many, writing an obituary seems like a daunting task. Whether you find yourself writing your own unique story, or writing for a loved one, the goal remains the same: Capture the person’s life and spirit.


  • Full name of the deceased (First, Middle Initial, Last), any nicknames (if significant).
  • Age
  • Residence (city, state)
  • Day and time of death (for example: Thursday, March 13, 2019)
  • Place and cause of death (if appropriate)


  • Date of birth

This can go in the body of the text or in the header. For example, “Born on June 19, 1932” or “June 19, 1932-March 13, 2019”

  • Place of birth, name(s) of parent(s)
  • Childhood: hobbies, schools, friends, etc.
  • Marriage(s): dates of, place, length
  • Education: high school, college, graduate work, and other designations. You can included awards and recognition.
  • Employment: where, how long, significant promotions, union activities, colleagues, field, etc.
  • Place of residence
  • Hobbies, sports, interests, activities and other enjoyments
  • Charitable, religious, fraternal, political and other affiliations; positions held, etc.
  • Achievements (unrelated to above)
  • Disappointments (if appropriate)
  • Unique attributes, humor, significant personality traits, other stories, etc.


  • “Survived by”: include state, or state and city of residence

Listed as: Spouse, children (in order of birth - include their spouses and partners), partner, grandchildren, great grand-children (depending on age and length can simply supply a number vs individual names), nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, significant friends, pets (if appropriate)

  • “Predeceased by”: list all who are applicable.

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