If you’re in charge of planning and arranging a funeral, you might need to create a funeral program or pamphlet. A funeral program is an important part of the service, and it helps memorialize your loved one. Many people hold onto funeral pamphlets, adding them to scrapbooks or photo albums to look back on years later.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Should Be Included in a Funeral Program?
- How to Make a Funeral Program on Word
- How to Make a Funeral Program on Google Docs
Designing and creating a funeral pamphlet or program can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Often, the funeral director at your funeral home will offer funeral program services. You can simply choose the photos and information you want to add to the program, and the funeral home will publish the pamphlets for you.
But if you want to get more involved and create your own funeral programs, or if you’re wondering what kind of information you should include, we’ll walk you through the process below.
What Should Be Included in a Funeral Program?
A funeral or memorial service program is a piece of paper or a small booklet that you distribute to funeral attendees. But it’s also so much more.
A program helps funeral attendees understand the tone of the service. More importantly, it helps them hold an image of your departed loved one in their mind throughout the funeral. And that’s why the information you include in a funeral program is so important.
So what should you add to a funeral program?
The typical information that’s almost always included in a funeral pamphlet or program includes:
- Photo of the deceased.
- Deceased’s full name, including maiden name if applicable.
- Birthdate and death date.
- Time, date, and location of the funeral and burial.
- Names of surviving family members.
- Names of the pallbearers.
- Full name of the officiant.
- Full name of the person or people delivering eulogies.
- Titles of the songs being played and the artists’ names.
- Titles and authors of any readings or poems.
Once you’ve added the key bits of the information listed above, you might also want to include some of the optional items below. Keep in mind that the more information you add, the larger your pamphlet will be. And that means you could incur additional printing fees if you go with a professional printing service.
- Full order of the service.
- Additional photos of the deceased, showing them at various times in life, with friends, family members, and pets.
- Brief biography of the deceased or an obituary.
- Anecdotes or memories of the deceased.
- Messages of gratitude from the family members to the funeral attendees.
- Time, date, and location of the reception.
How to Make a Funeral Program on Word
If you’re creating your own funeral program design, Microsoft Word might be the only software tool you need. And most people are already fairly familiar with how Word works.
You can either create the program completely using Word, or you can make a mock-up to give to your funeral director. From there, the funeral home can create a pamphlet that matches your vision.
If you completely create a program in Word, you can print it at home or take it to a professional printer for a more polished look.
Whether you choose to DIY the whole thing or only part, here's how you can make a funeral program using Word:
- Choose a Word-compatible template.
- Download and open your template in Word.
- Replace the photo or photos.
- Replace the preset text.
- Save your file and print a preview copy.
- Print your programs.
Step 1: Choose a Word-compatible template
You don’t have to create your funeral program completely from scratch. Most people use a template, which gives you the overall design and layout of the program ready-made. All you have to do is enter your specific information by clicking to edit photos and text boxes. There are two ways to find a template for your funeral pamphlet:
Word’s built-in templates. If you have Microsoft Word, you already have access to numerous templates that can work for a funeral program. All you need to do is open Word, click “File,” and then click “New.”
In the screen that comes up, you’ll see a bunch of template options down towards the bottom. You’ll also see a search bar above those templates. In the search bar, search “Brochure,” or “Program.” Then, simply choose the template you like best.
Funeral program templates online. Most funeral programs and pamphlets have a similar design, so multiple sites have created easy-to-use templates.
You can download these templates and open them in Microsoft Word, where you can then edit them as much as you want.
P.S. Cake also offers our very own funeral program template for Word, completely free of cost.
Step 2: Download and open your template in Word
Once you download the template, open the file in MS Word. You might need to unzip a folder to access the template, or you might find a Word file in your “Downloads” folder. Your template should appear in MS Word as you saw it displayed online, but it should now be editable.
Step 3: Replace the photo or photos
Depending on the template, there may be one photo or more that are stand-ins for photos of your loved ones. You’ll need to make sure the photos you want to use are on your computer, and then you can insert them into the Document. You can also rescale and crop photos to better fit the template by right-clicking on the photo.
Step 4: Replace the preset text
The next step in personalizing the funeral pamphlet is replacing the filler text. Most templates have text boxes that are labeled based on the information you’re supposed to fill in.
For example, you’ll usually see a text box labeled “First Name, Last Name” or something similar, where you should insert your loved one’s name. You can look at these text boxes before you start editing the program to get an idea of what kind of information you need to gather and write down.
Step 5: Save your file and print a preview copy
Next, save your Word Document in two ways. First, save the program as a Word Document, as it is now. Next, click “Save as” and save the pamphlet as a PDF file. This allows you to get a better idea of what your finalized and finished program will look like.
It’s a good idea, at this point, to print the PDF copy of your program if you have access to a printer. Print just one copy of the file, in color, and in full. This will allow you to make sure the layout works and looks like what you had in mind.
Step 6: Print your programs
Finally, you can print your funeral programs at home, or you can send your file to a professional printing service. Whether or not you use a professional service will likely depend on how many funeral attendees you expect. It also depends on the type of paper you want your programs printed on.
You may be able to send your PDF file to a professional printer remotely, or you might need to bring it into the print shop on a USB drive. You might also be able to give your funeral program file to your funeral home and have them create the finished product for you.
How to Make a Funeral Program on Google Docs
Using Google Docs to create a funeral program or pamphlet has several unique benefits.
First, your pamphlet is saved automatically, as long as you have a connection to the Internet. While Word also has this feature, you have to have OneDrive enabled on your computer to use it. With Google Drive, you just need an Internet browser and a Google login.
Second, Google Docs lets you collaborate on documents with family and friends in real-time. You can see the changes they make, as they make them, and make comments back and forth. That means that you and your family can create a funeral program or pamphlet by putting your minds and skills together using Google Docs.
If you choose Google Docs as your software for creating a funeral pamphlet, here’s an easy, step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Upload a Google Docs-compatible template
Just as if you were creating a funeral program using MS Word, you’ll need to find a template that’s compatible with Google Docs. You can find Google Docs-compatible templates on many of the same sites you would find a Word-compatible template for a funeral program.
With Google Docs, however, you’ll need to take the additional step of uploading the pamphlet file to Google Docs so that you can edit the program.
P.S. Cake also offers our very own funeral program template for Google Docs, completely free of cost.
Step 2: Follow Steps 3 and 4 above
Next, edit the placeholder text and photos just as described above. Depending on the template you use, you might need to resize the text and the photos to create the look you want and make sure everything fits.
Step 3: Share your Doc with collaborators
One of the benefits of Google Docs is that you can easily collaborate with friends and family members. Just email them the link to the Doc (and ensure everyone with the link has the permission to edit the file). Then, they can make or suggest changes and comment on the file about what they would add or take away.
You can also share the Google Docs link with a professional printer or your funeral director to have the program printed.
Step 5: Save the Doc to your computer
Next, save the Google Doc as a Word file or as a PDF to your computer. You can also save it to a USB drive if you plan on taking it to a professional print studio. Open up the file after you download it to make sure the formatting was retained.
Step 6: Print your programs
Finally, print the programs yourself or take your file in to be professionally printed.
More Options for Funeral Programs and Pamphlets
Microsoft Word and Google Docs are two of the most popular programs for creating printed documents, like funeral pamphlets. But if neither option feels right to you, you have other options. You can leave the task up to your funeral home director, as mentioned above, or you can use one of many template and publishing sites and software programs.
And if you find that there’s more information you want to add than what can fit in a small funeral program, consider creating an online memorial site. An online memorial site is like an extended version of a funeral pamphlet in many ways.
But it’s also a place where guests can interact and share memories about the departed. You can direct your funeral attendees to the memorial site by including the web address in the funeral pamphlet.
And if you’re hosting a virtual funeral, you can create a virtual funeral program to match.