How to Submit an Obituary to a Newspaper or Site: Step-By-Step

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If you’re writing an obituary for a loved one, it’s customary to publish it on a newspaper, website, or social media. For generations, families used newspapers to share the passing of a loved one with the community, and many newspapers carry this tradition today. 

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Because you’re likely writing an obituary after a recent death, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed with this process. When you’re struggling to come to terms with your grief, how do you push through to submit an obituary? 

Luckily, thanks to the rise of technology, this is a much simpler process than ever before. In this guide, we’ll share how to submit an obituary to a newspaper or site with step-by-step help. 

How to Submit an Obituary to a Newspaper

While there are no strict rules about where you should submit your obituary, it’s traditional for families to submit to local newspapers. In the past, newspapers were the primary way people learned about the death of community members. Today, people have more options, but many still opt for this route. 

Step 1. Determine which newspapers to use

It’s common for families to publish obituaries in multiple newspapers, depending on the wishes of their loved one. You’ll need to start by making a list of all the local or national newspapers you’d like to use for the obituary. 

Most people choose the local papers where their deceased relative spent the most time. For instance, their hometown or place of residence. In addition, if they’re well-known either professionally or in another regard, national newspapers might be interested in an obituary about their life. 

There are a lot of different print places to post an obituary:

  • Local newspapers
  • National newspapers
  • Community publications or magazines
  • Industry publications
  • Church or religious newsletters
  • Volunteer newsletters

The specific publications you choose will ultimately depend on the deceased and their relationship with the community. If they were active in their church, they likely would like their obituary to be in the church’s newsletter. If they were well-known academically, perhaps publish in an industry publication. 

Step 2. Take note of guidelines

When you’re writing the obituary, pay close attention to newspaper guidelines. They might have certain requirements you need to follow for publication. Most of the time, you’ll need to consider:

  • Word count
  • Names and dates
  • Photos

All of these things will also impact the cost. As you’d expect, longer obituaries with photos will cost more. The range for your obituary cost could be anywhere from $200-$400. Most newspapers actually charge by the line, so more content costs more. 

Finally, before you submit, check for grammar and spelling errors. The last thing you want to do is publish your loved one’s obituary only to notice a minor error after the fact. While the editor might take a quick look before publication, you should always double-check things like names and dates. 

Step 3. Check on the newspaper’s website

Your next step is to check the newspaper’s website for a way to submit digitally. While smaller publications or organizations might require you to submit in person, this is increasingly uncommon.

Look for a heading for “Obituaries” or “obits.” They might redirect you to a third-party obituary platform, or you might go directly through the publication. 

Each publication has its own process. You might need to go through an online form or send an email to the obituary editor. It’s important to follow these guidelines closely to ensure your obituary is received properly. 

Step 4. Request a proof copy

Before publication, ask the newspaper to send you a proof version. You want to ensure everything looks perfect, so this is a normal request. 

Since it’s likely you’re paying for this obituary to be published, the editor shouldn’t mind helping you check everything properly. 

Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for feedback. Make sure everything looks correct and that there are no errors. Remember, this is a part of someone’s legacy. Make it count.

Step 5. Ask your funeral home

If you’re working with a funeral home, these usually are willing to submit an obituary to local publications on your behalf. While this might cost an extra fee, it could be worth the peace of mind of having someone experienced to handle this process. 

Another benefit of having the funeral home take care of this is that you won’t need to wade through multiple bills. The newspaper’s fee is just added to your final bill from the funeral home. Ultimately, this is up to you. 

Step 6. Submit to smaller publications directly

If your loved one was a part of a local group or organization, you might submit the obituary to them as well. This is especially true if they have a dedicated newspaper or publication. Because these are typically smaller than newspapers, you’ll need to contact the editor directly. 

Call or visit the organization's website to look for any contact information. If they don’t have an obituary department (many don’t), reach out to an editor for help. 

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How to Submit an Online Publication

Many publications in modern times are exclusively online. Not only are online publications easy to share, but they’re a part of the internet forever. This is a powerful legacy. 

Step 1. Find online resources

To start, you’ll need a list of places that allow online obituaries. These don’t just have to be formal obituary websites. Many local groups and organizations might also offer a way to publish obituaries virtually. Some of the most common options are:

  • Funeral home websites
  • Online newspapers
  • Community groups
  • Church or religious websites
  • Online obituary websites

Step 2. Consider any added costs

Most funeral homes offer an online publication of an obituary as part of the service. This doesn’t usually cost anything extra. If you choose to publish on another website, check to see if they charge a fee. 

Most online publications offer this for free. This reduces the burden on families in their time of need. It’s also a reason why so many people choose to publish exclusively online nowadays compared to in the past. 

Step 3. Check formatting requirements

Like when publishing in print, there are typically formatting requirements and guidelines. You’ll find these on the “submit” or “guideline” page of any online platform you choose to submit through. If you can’t find any guides, contact the editor to make sure you’re following the proper steps. 

The most common thing to pay attention to is the photo. You might need to ensure the photo of the deceased or your family is a specific size, typically within a certain requirement. In addition, there might be a word count to pay attention to. 

Step 4. Don’t forget social media

Last but not least, don’t forget about posting to social media. In recent years, social media has become the way people connect to friends and family. Even if you choose to publish in print or online, share the obituary with others through your social media account. 

If you need to have an obituary that lasts forever, social media is a great choice. In addition to other platforms, it’s a powerful way to leave a legacy for your loved one digitally. 

Sharing Your Loved One’s Obituary

It’s not always easy to share your loved one’s obituary. Since you don’t usually plan for the obituary process, how do you make sure you’re publishing it to the right places? This guide above makes it simple to spread the word about your loved one’s death in print and online. There’s no “right” way to share the news, so feel free to choose the option that feels best to your family. 

Have you given any thought to your own legacy? Start end-of-life planning today to relieve your loved ones of these burdens. Nobody wants to think about these difficult decisions, but they make all the difference when your time does come. It’s time to take control. 

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