An Obituary Outline/Sample Format

A general guide to help you write an obituary

Man reading newspaper at cafe
Obituaries help communicate a death to family members and friends.. Photo © Tara Moore/Taxi/Getty Images

If you are writing an obituary for a deceased loved one, or working with a funeral director or another provider to create one, then you will need to gather and organize a lot of facts and information about your loved one. This article provides a general guide that you can use as an outline, template, checklist or sample format when writing an obituary. For the steps you should follow when writing an obituary, please read "How to Write an Obituary."

Name and Announcement of Death

• Full name of the deceased, including his or her middle name or initial, maiden name and/or nickname, if applicable

• Age at the time of death

• Where the deceased was living at the time of death (city and state)

• Day of the week and date of death (month, day and year)

• Place and cause of death -- only if you wish to include this information in the obituary

The Deceased's Life Details

• Birthdate (month, day and year) and place of birth (city and/or state)

• Full name(s) of parent(s) and/or stepparent(s)

• Pertinent childhood facts/information involving siblings, stories, schools, friends (optional)

• Marriage(s), including date (month and/or year), location of marriage (optional), and name of spouse(s)

• Education: school, college, university and/or other, if applicable

• Achievements, awards, and other forms of recognition

• Employment history, if desired

• Place(s) of residence (city and/or state, as relevant; do not include the full street address for the deceased's residences!

)

• Hobbies, sports, interests, activities, causes supported and/or other forms of passion, enjoyment or recreation

• Charitable, religious, fraternal, political and/or other affiliations, including any positions held in an organization

• Personal stories about the deceased's special qualities, if relevant and/or desired

Family Members

Survived by (and city/state of residence):

• Spouse, partner or significant other

• Children and/or stepchildren (in order of date of birth, and their spouses)

• Grandchildren and/or step-grandchildren (by first name or just the number of)

• Great-grandchildren and/or step-great-grandchildren (names or just the number of)

• Great-great-grandchildren and/or great-great step-grandchildren (names or just the number of)

• Parents and/or stepparent(s)

• Grandparents

• Siblings (in order of date of birth)

• Others, such as nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws (optional)

Predeceased by (include name and month/year of death, if known):

• Spouse(s), partner(s) or significant other

• Children and/or stepchildren (in order of date of birth)

• Grandchildren and/or step-grandchildren

• Siblings (in order of date of birth)

• Parents and/or stepparent(s)

• Others, such as nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws (optional)

Flowers and/or Memorial Contributions

• Send flowers and/or contributions to a funeral memorial fund or designated charitable organization or cause, including details concerning how/where to donate (include a website address or link, when possible)

• Charitable organization suggestions for memorial donations to a hospice, disease-specific organization, or an organization or cause with which the deceased was personally involved

Funeral or Memorial Service Details

• Date, time (including a.m. or p.m.) and location (including the business name and physical street address, city and state, and a website address or link, if available)

• Name(s) of officiant(s), pallbearers and/or other information, as applicable

• Wake/visitation information, if applicable, including date, time (including a.m. or p.m.) and location (including the business name and physical street address, city and state, and a website address or link, if available)

• Reception information, if applicable, including date, time (including a.m. or p.m.) and location (including the business name and physical street address, city and state, and a website address or link, if available)

• Other memorial, vigil or graveside service information, if applicable, including date, time (including a.m. or p.m.) and location (including the business name and physical street address, city and state, and a website address or link, if available)

• Location of interment (including the business name and physical street address, city and state, and a website address or link, if available)

• Name of the funeral home/provider in charge of the arrangements (including the business name and physical street address, city and state, and a website address or link, if available)

Related Articles You Might Find Helpful:
How to Write an Obituary
How to Write a Eulogy or Remembrance Speech
5 Tips for a Successful Eulogy or Remembrance Speech
Better Ways to Say "In Lieu of Flowers..." in Obits
How to Mention a Memorial or Sympathy Gift

Edited and updated by Chris Raymond, February 27, 2016.

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