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Q. Do I Have to Pay a Fee to Publish an Obituary or Death Notice?

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Updated: September 26, 2006

A. It depends on the Newspaper.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "An obituary notice is a paid listing, often provided for you by the attending mortuary."

The Chronicle offers you the option of placing an obituary notice yourself, it the mortuary (or crematorium) does not place one for you.

Whether the announcement will run for free or require a fee to publish depends on the newspaper. Be sure to check the paper's requirements for publishing obituaries or death notices prior to submitting anything.

Free Publication

  • Some papers run a certain number of lines as a brief announcement for free.
  • Some papers publish a longer obituary for free.
  • Most papers will publish a Newsworthy obituaries (deaths of public figures and celebrities) for free.

Fee Publication

  • Some papers publish a paid Death Notice/Obituary Notice. Families can write the obituary and submit it to the paper to be printed for a fee.
  • Some papers are offering Online Death Notices for a fee. In most cases these obituaries are only available online.

Other Considerations:
Before you turn in an obituary for publishing, be sure to check the requirements of the paper to which you are submitting the obituary. Some will only accept obituary notices from the funeral home, mortuaries and crematoriums.

Check the language used by the paper for Obituaries and Death Notices to make sure you are getting what you want.

Obituary or Death Notice Costs:
If cost is an issue, make sure you know what the paper will charge to print the obituary or death notice, before you submit it.

  • Charging by the Inch - Newspapers charge to publish the obituary by the inch or by the line. There are approximately 7 printed lines per inch. Fees to publish an inch of an obituary were over $90.00/inch.
  • Publishing a Photo - Including a photograph may result in an additional fee to the total cost of running the notice. Fees to publish a photograph were over $100.00.

One can easily see how the price to publish an obituary or death notice in print of any length with a photograph can run to several hundred dollars or more.

Larger vs. Local Papers
Many of the Newspapers in major cities will charge to publish an obituary or death notice, unless the death is judged as "newsworthy."

Newspapers in smaller towns may publish the obituary as a courtesy to locals, or those who spent significant amounts of time in the town. For smaller papers, obituaries may be quite newsworthy events.

More Cost Effective Options
A more cost effective option is to publish an online death notice or a virtual memorial. These can also be free or fee based depending on the site. Fees are generally less than publishing a notice in print.

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