Sample Obituary Formats

Alice Wisler
Use a sample to tailor an obituary for a friend.

When you need to write an obituary, you can get some guidance from sample obituary formats.

Steps for Writing an Obituary

Creating an obituary is not something to be feared. If you follow these simple steps, you can write a few paragraphs to share with others in the community about the person who has died. Make sure to include the following in your listing:

  • Name of deceased
  • Age at time of death
  • Birth and death dates
  • Schooling or education
  • Accomplishments or biographical sketch
  • Immediate family members still living and deceased
  • Funeral arrangements, date, time and location
  • Where to send gifts or donations in memory

Variations on Sample Obituary Formats

Many wish to quote words said by others about the deceased. You may choose to place these sentences in quotations within the obituary. An example of this would read, Davis Hurman said, "I will always be impressed by the kindness James Wilson showed to those at the Boys and Girls Club where he volunteered each Saturday." Quotations help to personalize the paragraphs.You may choose to state the type of illness the deceased was battling or just preface by using the phrase, After a long illness or if the deceased was sick only a short while, After a short illness, Mr. Wilson died at his home.

Examples of Obituaries

When determining how to write a listing for your local newspaper, consider the sample obituary format shown below for the Richmond Times Dispatch of Richmond, Virginia. Under each heading you will see the vital information that needs to be included.

Name of Deceased

James Wilson, 70, died March 1, 2000 at his home in Richmond, after a short illness.

Birth Date

Mr. Wilson was born on January 8, 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the youngest of seven children.


Mr. Wilson graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama in 1952.


In 1953, he moved to Richmond where he married Sylvia McHenry of Sandston. He worked at Philip Morris until his retirement in 1985. He also was active in the Optimist Club and was a volunteer at the Museum of Science in Richmond, as well as the Girls and Boys Club.

Family Members Living

Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and two sons, Michael, Ann Arbor MI, and John, New York City, and six grandchildren. He is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by three sisters, Martha, Kim and Anna.

Funeral Details

His funeral service will be held Tuesday, March 5 at 2 PM at First Presbyterian Church on Broad Street, followed by internment at Long Avenue Funeral Home.

In Lieu of Flowers

His family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations are sent to The Museum of Science in Richmond.

Proofreading the Obituary

Before submitting the sentences you have constructed, be sure to proofread them. Take time to read these words aloud. If you can, read them to someone else to check for clarity and punctuation. Capitalize places of employment, foundations, charities, cities and states. Check the spelling of names. You want the lines that you write to be the best that they can be.


The cost of placing an obituary in the newspaper varies from paper to paper. You can call your local paper to find out their rates. You may also want to place an announcement about the passing away of your loved one in other newspapers, especially if the deceased spent any time in another region. Many put announcements in both a hometown paper and in the paper where the deceased grew up and may still have family and friends residing.

Template for Sample Obituary Formats

For more information and guidance on creating an obituary, you can find free templates on how to format an obituary.

Sample Obituary Formats