How to Write a Death Notice

If a close friend or family member of yours has recently passed away, you are likely beginning the difficult process of funeral planning and adjusting to your new normal without them. In the midst of working through your grief, you’re expected to fulfill certain obligations, including writing a death notice (also known as a death announcement). While this sounds straight-forward, writing a death notice is a personal experience that can feel incredibly overwhelming. This guide on how to write a death notice will hopefully allow for a simpler, more healing process.

How to Write a Death Notice

Obituaries vs. Death Notices

While many people assume that an obituary and a death announcement are the same, these are actually two very different things. A death announcement is short and simple. The purpose is to publicly announce the passing of the deceased and give details for any upcoming services being held in their honor. Although writing and sending out a death announcement can be painful, it’s preferable to personally explaining to everyone you know that your loved one has passed away. 

An obituary is a longer announcement with more details about the deceased’s life. Written by a journalist, an obituary is closer to a miniature biography. You can request that your local paper write an obituary about your loved one. Unlike a death notice, which costs a small amount, an obituary is free of charge. However, there’s no guarantee the newspaper will publish the material. It’s up to the newspaper whether or not it goes to press.

What to Include When Writing a Death Announcement

When it comes to writing a death announcement, you’ll need to include basic information about the deceased, including:

  • Their full name (and maiden name, if applicable)
  • Date of birth
  • Date and location of death

The remaining information published in the death notice will be determined by how much space you have and what you’d like to prioritize. You can include the cause of death, but are not required to in any way. Many people include the details of the funeral/memorial service and visitation. However, if the service is private, you can leave that information out.  It’s common to add a “survived by” section to let people know who the family of the deceased is. If donations are being collected for a specific charity, you should also put this information in the death notice. 

If you still have room to share a few details, you might include the deceased’s:

  • Alma mater and college degree
  • Longtime career and/or employer 
  • Specific religion, activism, volunteer work, etc. 
  • Military service including rank, unit, and any awards


If the publication allows for one, choose a photo of your loved one. However, you should be prepared to pay for this addition. The newspaper will give you certain photo requirements, including whether it can be in color or should only be in black and white.

What to Do with a Death Notice

Publishing a death notice in the local newspaper will cost you a small sum. The amount will range depending on the publication and the length of the notice. Many newspapers charge based on the number of words, lines, or inches of space. 

Price is also somewhat dependent on the time you want the notice published. If you would like it to appear in a Sunday issue, you will likely have to pay more than a weekday issue. Make sure you understand how pricing works with a specific publication before you start writing to avoid being overcharged.

The notices should appear in both the physical paper and online. Depending on your loved one’s background, you may want to send the death notice out to a few publications including their hometown, most recent residence, and other notable towns or cities they lived in for a substantial amount of time.

Some religious groups or volunteer organizations accept death notices. If your loved one was heavily involved with this type of group, you should consider sending a copy of the death notice to them.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to post a death notice on the deceased’s social media pages such as Facebook and Instagram. This will ensure that people connected online with the deceased will see the announcement.

Experience Stress-Free Funeral Planning with Hollywood Forever

Writing a death announcement is an important part of the grief journey. Hollywood Forever is here for you, ready to ease some of the burden with our cemetery, funeral, and cremation services. For further information, please contact us.


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