How Much Does an Obituary Cost?
An obituary is an announcement of a person’s death. It typically includes information identifying that person (former jobs, family members, places lived) as well as details about the funeral or memorial service and memorial donations. Publishing an obituary in a local newspaper is a good way to get this information out to anyone who might need it.
If you want to place an obituary in a newspaper, there will generally be a fee associated with it. This fee is often considered part of the funeral costs, but you might want to prepare for just how much it will be.
What determines the price of a newspaper obituary?
Most newspapers charge a fee for an obituary. In some cases, you may be able to have a very short death notice printed for free with only the deceased’s name and date of death. If you want to include more information than that, though, you’ll need to pay.
Those rates vary greatly depending on the newspaper you choose to publish it in, how many days you want it to run, the length of the obituary, and whether you’re including a photo.
An average obituary costs anywhere from under $100 to $800 or more. That’s for an obituary that includes plenty of identifying information but doesn’t get too eloquent or detailed beyond those basics. If you want to write a longer, more personalized obituary, the cost would be higher. It could be up to $2000 in some metropolitan areas.
Location matters when it comes to obituary costs, as the feed for printed obituaries varies from place to place. Newspapers in small metro areas or small towns tend to charge less for obituaries than a newspaper in a larger city would.
Even the area of the country makes a difference. Newspapers on the West Coast and in the South tend to charge less for obituaries than those in the Midwest or on the East Coast. There’s variation even among multiple newspapers in the same region or the same metro area.
Sample obituary prices across the U.S.
Because of all that variation, it’s hard to estimate exactly what an obituary will cost when it’s time for you to place one. However, we looked at rates in a few areas around the country to help you get a general idea. We checked on the prices for two different obituaries: one that’s moderately short, about 150 words, and another that’s much more detailed, about 600 words. Here’s what we found.
The metro area we looked at with the lowest cost was Everett, Washington, where the shorter obituary ran about $85 and the longer one was $290, with an additional $25 fee for a photograph. In Dover, Delaware, the same short obituary was $100; the longer obituary was $325, and a photo was $35 more.
Fayetteville, North Carolina was a bit more expensive to run an obituary: $155 for the short version, and $465 for the longer, plus $45 to include a photo. And among the smaller metro areas we looked at, the obituaries were the most expensive in Davenport, Iowa, where the short obituary was $225 and the longer one was $565, though including a photo only added $15 to the fee.
The prices go up when the metro area is bigger. In Atlanta, the short obituary ran $375 and the longer one was $1440, with a substantial fee to include a photo – it was about $250 more. In Los Angeles, the short obituary was $400 and the longer one was $1300, with a photo about $100 more.
Chicago prices were higher, with the short obituary running $485 and the longer one $1740, plus about $115 for a photo. And the highest obituary fees we found were, unsurprisingly, in New York City. There, the short obituary was $780 and the long obituary was too long to run using their templates. We had to cut it down to 430 words and then it cost $1930. A photo was about $60 more.
These were all prices for the obituary to appear in print for a single day. Multiple days will add to the cost. An online obituary is generally included for no extra fee or possibly for just a small upcharge. It remains online on the newspaper’s website for a longer time than it runs in print. In some cases, it’s online permanently.
Many newspapers charge by the line or inch for obituaries, not by the word. This means how much physical space the text will take up in the printed newspaper.
It can be hard to estimate how many lines or inches an obituary will take up, so if you’re trying to determine what an obituary will cost, your best bet will be to contact the newspaper. They may ask you to submit the obituary via email or an online form so they can lay it out as it would appear in the newspaper and give you a quote. Your funeral director can help you with this step if you need it.
Alternatives to newspaper obituaries
Especially if you live in a bigger city, you might feel like an obituary is out of your funeral planning budget. When a newspaper obituary simply isn’t affordable, an online obituary can save a family hundreds of dollars. And it still allows them to share the news about a death and honor their loved one.
One place where you can publish an online obituary is the website of the funeral home you use. This will generally be included in the price you pay for funeral services, so you won’t have to pay any extra.
A photo can typically be added to an obituary on the funeral home website. You can share it using social media and email. It is likely to include a link for friends to email condolences or submit them to an online message board. It may be that the obituary only stays online for a limited time on the funeral home’s website, so be sure to check with them if this matters to you.
Another option is posting the obituary directly to Facebook or other social media. This is always free, and it can have a wide reach if you have a lot of contacts on social media. You can include as many photos as you want. Friends can easily comment with their memories and condolences.
The main drawback to posting an obituary exclusively to social media is that it’ll become increasingly hard to find as time goes by. Newer posts will bury it farther down on your page, and this may be frustrating.
A final free option that will remain online in one place permanently is a Legacy.com obituary. You can post an obituary directly to Legacy.com without it appearing in a newspaper. This allows you to create, store, and share the obituary all from one place. It can include a photo and tktk amount of text. There’s a Guest Book attached, where friends can add condolences and upload their favorite photos. It’s easy to do – start with the form here.
Ready to publish an obituary? Choose one of 900+ leading newspapers in the United States and learn how to place an obituary for publication.
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