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What is an obituary?

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Quick Answer

An obituary is a published editorial article informing the public that a person died and providing some biographical information about the deceased individual. Obituaries are common in local newspapers, although major national newspapers do publish obituaries of notable figures.

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Full Answer

Before writing an obituary, check with the local newspaper regarding style guidelines and limitations on length. It is also important to note whether the newspaper accepts obituaries written directly by the family or if it only accepts obituaries written by its own staff or those submitted by a funeral home.

When writing the obituary itself, include information that allows readers to get a sense of who the deceased individual was. Information commonly included in an obituary includes the deceased individual's full name, date and place of birth, cause of death and the names of immediate relatives who preceded him in death. Other information commonly included is any military service, the deceased individual's place of employment and any hobbies he may have had.

If the memorial services held for the deceased individual are public, plan to publish the obituary one or two days in advance and include the location and times for those events. It is also common to include a charity or other organization for well-wishers to donate to in the deceased individual's honor.

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