How Much Does an Obituary Cost?

An obituary is, at minimum, a notice of death and funeral arrangements. But it can be much more than that. It can act as a record for the extended family, a thank you to anyone who helped, and a request for donations at the memorial. But most importantly, it can act as a compelling story of life. It is an important part of the process but it’s still fair to ask, how much does an obituary cost?

How much should an obituary cost?


Well the answer is dependent on many factors including:

  • Is the deceased newsworthy to the general public?
  • Where do you want it published?
  • How long is the obituary?
  • Will a picture be published?
  • What day of the week will it be published?


There are many publications which print obituaries for a fee and some which do it for free. The fee publications are larger newspapers. These papers may charge by the column inch or by the number of words or line. For larger papers, you can have an obituary published which you write and pay for. Many major newspapers also have an online-only obituary section which will also cost you a fee. Some free publications include papers which run a brief announcement, local papers which publish freely for residents, and a newsworthy obituary.

Newspapers will charge by the inch and by the day of publication. They base their fees on the length and whether or not a photo is included. For example, The San Francisco Chronicle charges a base of $86 per inch while The Seattle Times charges $90 per inch during the week and $100 per inch on Sundays. If you add a photograph it will increase your cost by an average of $150 depending on the day of the week. The New York Times, for example, charges a flat fee of $263 for the first four lines of an obituary and then charges an additional $52 per line. Each line is approximately 28 characters. The Wall Street Journal charges a flat fee of $29 per line.

newspaper-598906_1920Larger newspapers, such as national papers, will only publish an obituary for free if it is something that affects the general public and is considered “newsworthy”. These obituaries are written by in-house staff. Smaller local papers will publish obituaries as a courtesy to their local residents or people who spent a significant amount of time in that town. For some smaller papers, an obituary is a newsworthy event.

There are now online options. You can publish an online death notice for free or for little cost. Many online obituaries allow friends and family to post an obituary and share their grief in a virtual setting 24/7. Visitors can sign a virtual guest book and leave virtual flowers or donations.

Another cost effective way of sending out death notices is to use a company which specializes in death announcements. You can save hundreds of dollars compared to publishing an obituary and photograph in a major newspaper.


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