How to Make an Obituary on Microsoft Word: Step-By-Step | Cake Blog (2024)

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During your lifetime, you might experience the death of a friend or loved one and be asked to write an obituary. An obituary is a summary of the precious and unforgettable life of a loved one in writing.

Jump ahead to these sections:

  1. Open Microsoft Word
  2. Picture of the Deceased
  3. Death Announcement
  4. About the Deceased
  5. Funeral Arrangements
  6. Donations and the Like
  7. Final Words
  8. Save the File!

It’s a beautiful way to share the life and legacy of the deceased. To better understand how towrite an obituary, it’s important to follow basic obituary etiquette guidelines.

Once you’re ready, the next step to figure out is writing it. If you’re using a computer, Microsoft Word is a common word processor for the task. The instructions and advice below will equip you to write an obituary using the MS Word program.

Tip: If you're hosting a virtual funeral or memorial service, some platforms like GatheringUs have specialists who can guide and support you through the planning process.

And if you'd like more help through the complicated process of losing a loved one, check out our post-loss checklist.

1. Open Microsoft Word

How to Make an Obituary on Microsoft Word: Step-By-Step | Cake Blog (1)If you have a computer, you can write an obituary on numerous applications. Microsoft Word has some extra tools such as a well-equipped dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar checker that can help you out. Start by opening up Microsoft Word and choosing whether or not to use a template.

Use a template

If you want to use a template, then your first step will be to open Word and type in “obituary” in its search bar. Once you do, MS Word will pull up all obituary templates it has located on your computer or available online if you’re connected to the internet. If you’re offline and no templates show up, you’ll need to connect to the internet so you can download templates.

To do that, type “obituary templates” in the MS Word search bar and look at the options that pop up. Once you find one, simply click on the template and it will download onto your computer. If you only need words, then you can search for a word-only obituary template and format it to your own preference.

Design your own

Templates can be helpful since they give you a place to start, but they’re not entirely necessary. You can use the format outlined in this article and a blank Word page instead of going through the trouble of downloading an obituary template.

An obituary that touches hearts can be simple or complex in design. As the author, it’s up to you to decide how to best represent the deceased in words and format.

2. Picture of the Deceased

People often place much more emphasis on the written content of an obituary than the photo they enclose with it. However, though words hold immense importance, a picture can speak louder and serves as a final visual reminder of the deceased.

Pictures catch the eye and draw the heart. They provide one final glimpse into the wide grin or mischievous glint the person was known for. It can show their serious side or their funny side. It gives people an opportunity to remember the person as they were. Adding a picture will go a long way in creating a tribute to the person who has passed.

So, what type of photo do you add? Obituaries are sensitive and solemn reminders by nature, so it’s important to choose a picture that is fitting. Some items to consider during the selection process include quality, orientation, and clarity.


If you pick a low-resolution picture for the obituary, readers won’t be able to see the details. You should ask the newspaper you are writing the obituary for about their quality guidelines to ensure the picture remains the same in print and online.


It’s preferable to select an image with only the deceased. People only loosely associated with the person who passed away may not know who the person is if you use a family photo.

Worse, it might give the impression that the entire family died! If you only have a handful of pictures of the deceased and none are solo portraits, consider cropping a group picture. Otherwise, be sure to notate who is in the picture somewhere in the content of the obituary.


Colored images make an obituary appear more vibrant. However, black and white pictures can have a timeless quality. When choosing a black and white picture, be sure to pick one that isn’t blurry so people can clearly recognize the person who has passed away.

Black and white photos are often used to capture a person during an earlier time period. This is fine as long as you don’t pull a picture from childhood. Try and keep black and white photos around the age when they are recognizable, from early to late adulthood. When using color pictures, keep in mind clarity and ask yourself how it will appear in black and white if the newspaper doesn’t print in color.


Out of the myriad of photos, choose the one that portrays the deceased’s personality well. Pick one that shows them doing something they love, preferably smiling. When it comes down to it, pick a picture of the person that will make other people smile fondly and think of good memories when they see it.

You can read our guide on how to choose an obituary photo for more.

3. Death Announcement

Since an obituary is primarily a death announcement, this is the first thing that should be written. You can sum the following points in one to two sentences. Only include as much information as is appropriate for your situation.

  • The whole name of the deceased
  • Their age upon death
  • Place of death
  • Time of death
  • Date (day/month/year) of the death

You can list the cause of death if appropriate. If you need to keep this section short and sweet, you can simply write a sentence such as, “He passed away on the 12th of April with his children by his side.” Or “Her husband was with her when she went to the Almighty Lord.” In general, most people prefer phrases like “passed away,” “passed on,” or “left this life” instead of simply saying “died.”

4. About the Deceased

How to Make an Obituary on Microsoft Word: Step-By-Step | Cake Blog (2)

An obituary is meant to be a compelling, informative, and short account of the deceased’s life. You’ll want to include interesting facts about the person, their personality, and their family.

Keep in mind while writing that your tone and wording are equally important as the facts you include. While a straightforward, factual account might provide information, a paragraph that is devoid of emotion won’t resonate with the hearts of friends and loved ones.

The inquiry

Before anything else, you need to collect information. If you’re related to the deceased, it will be easier for you to write. But, if you’re an obituary writer hired because the family is too overwhelmed with grief, you’ll need to get a glimpse of the dead person’s personality and behaviors.

Looking into their life will help you write a finished obituary that is a touching story rather than a robotic article. Some questions to ask yourself or their family and friends include:

  • How do you want to describe their personality? Vibrant, collected, cheerful? Find the correct adjective or phrase to describe them.
  • Did they have any accomplishments they were proud of? In most cases, their greatest joy is being a mother or father.
  • What were the best memories you or a family member had with them?
  • What were their likes and dislikes?
  • Any personality traits that made them different or special?

The facts

The facts below are ones you need to ask for by using questions written above or doing your own research:

  • Town/city and country of the deceased
  • Date of birth
  • Name of spouse (if married)
  • The time of marriage: day/month/year
  • Hometown (if any)
  • Primary school, high school, college
  • Job/position in a company
  • Hobbies (likes and dislikes)
  • Beliefs and religion
  • Retirement

Incorporate these facts into a brief summary of their life rather than trying to write a complete biography of the deceased. A eulogy isn’t meant to tell their entire story from birth to death but to provide a brief account of their life so readers can better understand them.

The family

After writing the name and interesting facts about the deceased, you should move on to list the family they left behind. It should be in this order: spouse, parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and great-grandchildren.

One simple way to write about them is to use the phrase “survived by.” You can also include information about who among them will serve as pallbearers or other roles if appropriate.

The tone

Death may be a somber affair but the obituary shouldn’t be downright depressing. Depending on the personality of the deceased, it can even be humorous and focus on their quirks and funny moments from their life. The best obituaries bring out the personality and individuality of the person they are meant to represent.

An obituary needs facts and figures but more importantly, it needs to be written like a story. Jot down the most interesting events in the deceased person’s life, be they funny or thought-provoking, and write in such a way that they would want to be remembered.

5. Funeral Arrangements

Include essential information about the service and visitation so that people who knew the person can attend. In a line or two, write the name of the church or mortuary, date, and time of service in addition to visitation times and a phone number if visitation is by appointment.

6. Donations and the Like

Briefly note any charity where the deceased or family would like donations to be made in lieu of flowers. If they want to support a specific cause, be sure to include relevant information so people can direct their donations accordingly.

7. Final Words

How to Make an Obituary on Microsoft Word: Step-By-Step | Cake Blog (3)

At the end, you can write a small saying or prayer for the person who has passed away. Words like, “May they rest in peace” or “Until we meet again” help to express your love.

You can also offer a statement of gratitude to relatives and friends that helped with the funeral in a special way, if appropriate.

8. Save the File!

“Save” the Word Doc as you start writing and click save several times while you compose the piece so you don’t lose any of your hard work should the unthinkable happen and your computer shut off or the power go out.

Name it so you can quickly find it again and place it in a folder on your computer that you’ll remember.

Tell Their Story

When you write an obituary, you are tasked with creating a short story of someone’s life. Read what you wrote and make sure it is a piece that honors their memory and helps readers relive moments with their friend or loved one.

An obituary like that, and the person it is written about, will be remembered for years to come.

How to Make an Obituary on Microsoft Word: Step-By-Step | Cake Blog (2024)


How to create an obituary using Microsoft Word? ›

Microsoft Word doesn't have a specific obituary template, but there are alternatives you can use that can work as one. Obituary options include using a flyer, letter or newsletter template to create it. Sites including Canva, Legacy and also have obituary templates to use.

Does Microsoft have an obituary template? ›

Printable funeral obituary templates for Microsoft Word provide an easy and customizable solution for creating heartfelt and professional obituaries. These templates offer a range of designs and layouts, allowing users to personalize the content and design to reflect the life and personality of the departed.

How to make a simple obituary? ›

Writing an Obituary
  1. Their age upon death.
  2. Birthday.
  3. Birthplace.
  4. A list of the surviving relatives.
  5. Date of death.
  6. The location (city/state) where they died.
  7. Details about the funeral service: date, time, place.
  8. Where the person lived.

Is there an obituary template? ›

An obituary template is a pre-made format for writing about someone who has passed away. It typically includes important details like the person's name, age, birthdate, where they lived, and who their surviving family members are.

What is an example of an obituary Word? ›

Suggested wording: “It is with great sadness that the family of (deceased name) announce (his/her) passing….” “(Deceased name) will be sadly missed by ….” “Fondly remembered by….”

What program can I use to make an obituary? ›

The memorial service program template you choose is only the basis for your final design. You'll probably want something unique and personal to the deceased and their family. This is why Adobe Express is perfect for the job.

What is the format for writing an obituary? ›

A typical obituary will have the following pieces of information:
  • A death announcement.
  • The full biography of the deceased's life.
  • Family details.
  • Funeral or memorial service date, time, and arrangements.
  • A photo of the deceased.
  • A message from the family.

Can you make an obituary yourself? ›

Yes, many people choose to write their own obituary in advance to ensure that it accurately reflects their life and personality.

What paper do you use for obituary? ›

The best type of funeral paper to use when printing your obituary program is a 32 lb. paper weight which you can easily get at any office supply store.

What is a good short obituary example? ›

[Full name], [age], of [where they lived], sadly left us on [date of death] due to [cause of death]. They leave behind [list of surviving family members]. A service will be held in their honor at [time] on [date] at [location].

What should you not include in an obituary? ›

In most cases, obituaries do not include the names or nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, or in-laws unless they were close to the deceased. Grandchildren are sometimes listed but often numbered instead (…he leaves behind 5 grandchildren).

What is an example of a mother in an obituary? ›

Classic Obituary Example for a Mother

Margaret Anne Johnson, affectionately known as Maggie, passed away on October 25, 2023, in her hometown of Springfield, Illinois. Born to Helen and George Baxter on March 15, 1948, in Springfield, she was a beacon of light and warmth in the community she dearly loved.

How do you frame an obituary? ›

If you like the idea of framing the obituary and want to add additional elements, consider using a shadow box. These boxes allow for the obituary to be protected while also offering additional room to display small mementos such as flowers from the service, medals, notes, or photographs.

What is the shortest obituary ever? ›

The late Douglas Legler, from Fargo, North Dakota, may have the funniest and most concise obituary ever. The whole obituary reads "Doug Died." And that's exactly the way he wanted it.

Does Microsoft Word have a funeral program template? ›

The Microsoft Funeral Program Word Template ensures a seamless and polished presentation, allowing users to honor and celebrate the life of their loved ones with a well-crafted and visually appealing program.

What is the formula for writing an obituary? ›

Elements of an Obituary
  • Death announcement.
  • Date and time of memorial service.
  • Biographical information or summary of life.
  • List of close friends and family.
  • Memorable moments and accomplishments.
  • Funeral or memorial details.
  • Acknowledgments and donations.
  • Pictures.

How do you use the Word obituary? ›

How to Use obituary in a Sentence
  1. I read her obituary in the newspaper.
  2. Reading the film star's obituary in the Times sparked a thought. ...
  3. The feat was the second line of his obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2021. ...
  4. The feat was the second line of his obituary in the Chicago-Sun Times in 2021.
May 3, 2024

What is the proper format for an obituary? ›

Be sure to include:
  • The full name of the deceased, including nicknames.
  • The age of the deceased at the time of death.
  • The city or town of residence at the time of death.
  • A list of immediate surviving family members.
  • A brief summary of the deceased's life.
  • Memorial or funeral details with the address and date.
Oct 11, 2022

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