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How To Write A Death Notice

Admin and Legal

A death notice is just that, announcing that there has been a death while also giving notice of any key details. This is effectively just a public service announcement as there will be a very limited amount of biographical information.

What's the difference between an obituary and a death notice?

If you're thinking that these two are the same thing then there is a slight difference. An obituary is a lot more personal as they will often include a short biography of the person who has passed away. There is also more personal details included.

In reality, there are often minimal differences between the two and a newspaper section may be called either death notices or obituaries. In any given newspaper page, you'll have notices that could technically be regarded as either type.

A death notice is a paid advertisement in a newspaper whereas an obituary can be created as an editorial article or simply be posted anywhere for free. The blurring of lines comes from the fact that most obituaries are paid for to be placed in local newspapers.

Whether it is paid for or not, the biggest difference between the two is the biographical element that is missing from a death notice. Aside from that, the basic information that you need to write is very similar. Here we'll go through what information should be included.

How to write a death notice

The death notice can be broken down into two main sections: the details about the deceased and then the details about any service that is to come.

Personal details

The first thing to mention is their full name, including any middle names. Added to this, it's a good idea to mention any other names if they were most commonly known by something else. This way anyone reading the notice will have no doubts about who is being referred to.

Their age and date of birth is also a key piece of information and where they resided at the time of their death. If needs be, you can also add their place of birth and any other information that you feel may be relevant for people to identify them.

Funeral details

With a funeral service, you want to give people the opportunity to pay their respects. The location, time and date of the funeral service is all vital to give people the chance to attend. There is a chance that the funeral details have not yet been set. In this instance, it's best to let them know where this information will eventually be posted.

Can I add personal information to death notice?

If you're paying for an advertisement in a local newspaper then there is nothing stopping you from adding in a little biographical information. This will become more like an obituary but if you can add in anything that you want.

If you want to write more detail then it's best to write about what made them special and include their life achievements. This will be something personal and can be regarding their employment, hobbies, personality traits or anything you feel is worthy of writing about.

If you're writing it more like an obituary then it's usual to write about whom their surviving family members are and their relationship to the deceased. The amount of detail you add is up to you and you're free to go well beyond the usual information on a death notice.

How to place a death notice

You first need to consider where your death notice is going to be placed. It's usually going to be in a local newspaper although you may just decide to post it online. Many local newspapers will publish the notice both in print and online.

Once you've found the newspaper you want to publish it, you need to contact them. They'll let you know the cost of the notice and when it needs to be submitted. Often papers will have graduated payments depending on the number of words you want to use and also if a picture would be included.

After it has been written, it's a good idea to double-check the information that you've posted and also proofread it a few times. You don't want to make any mistakes and therefore it's a good idea to ask someone else to give it a quick read.

Death notice example

"Full name (DOB DD/MM/YYYY) passed away peacefully on date aged age at location of death in village, town/city.

The funeral service will be held on date at time in funeral location."

That is as simple as a death notice needs to be. You can then add any biographical information you want in the middle. Some funerals will require a lot more information as there is could be a viewing, service and interment/burial. Many death notices will also give directions on condolences, such as giving a family home address for flowers or a charity where donations can be made.

If you're still unsure, then you can look up your local newspaper and see what other people have written. Once you have the key details written down, you can then embellish it in any way that you want while following the word count.

Do I need to write a formal death notice?

There is no legal obligation to write a death notice and you don't have to write one if you don't want too. Many people these days will simply rely on social media to spread the message. If you are going down this route then it's a good idea to write a death notice with all the key information and simply share it online rather than going to the newspaper.

However you do it is completely up to you. The whole point of them is to notify people about a death and if you think you can do that by other means, then feel free too. There are even free websites out there which will allow you to write a full obituary which you can then share. This will avoid the costs usually associated with a death notice.

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