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An Expert Guide On How To Write Headstone / Gravestone Inscription

Selecting the perfect headstone inscription can be a very daunting task, not only can it be emotional, but it is meant to serve as a lasting tribute to your loved one’s life and legacy.

We have put together some tips to help you choose the perfect headstone inscription for your loved one:

1. Take your time:

There are several reasons why it is important to take your time when choosing the right inscription for a headstone but most importantly, you want to get it right. Choosing a headstone is an emotional process, and you want to make sure that you get it right the first time. Taking your time will allow you to fully consider all your options and make a decision that you feel good about.

2. Consider the personality of the person being memorialised:

What were their passions, hobbies, and values? You may want to include a quote or phrase that reflects their personality or speaks to their interests.

3. Keep it brief:
Headstones have limited space available, so it’s important to keep the headstone inscription brief and to the point. A few carefully chosen words can be more powerful than a long inscription.

4. Check grammar and spelling:
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to double check and ask someone else to double check spelling and dates, also that the inscription is well written and free of errors. It is very common for customers to get birth dates, death dates wrong.

5. Choose an appropriate font:
The font you choose for the inscription should be easy to read and appropriate for the tone of the memorial tribute. We have a page with popular fonts that are used on headstones which you can visit by clicking here if you wish. We can use almost any font you like, but some important things to consider are:

A: The most popular fonts are fonts that are clean, possibly modern in appearance and good legibility especially at small sizes.

B: Use fonts that are versatile and can be used for a range of applications, from headings and titles to body text. Some customers like a different font possibly an old fashioned font for the heading and then a more modern font for the rest of the inscription. Other customers like a fancy font for their loved one’s name and a standard font for the rest of the stone. You can see some examples below but one thing to keep in mind is we would advise not to have more than two fonts on the memorial headstone, otherwise it can look a bit messy.

C: Fonts that have very thin lines can be used however keep in mind thin lines do not reflect the sunlight as much as thicker fonts. Thicker fonts reflect the sunlight very nicely so if the inscription has been gilded (gold writing) thicker inscription has a very nice shiny lustre to it which is very pleasing to the eye.


6. Consider the size of the headstone:
Price will probably play the biggest part in this decision but make sure that the inscription fits within the allotted space on the headstone and is easy to read from a distance (standing at the foot of the grave.) If you speak with us, we will provide you with template to show you how the headstone will look once it has been installed.

7. Allow enough space:
This point is very important so please remember that if two people are eventually to be on the headstone, you have to leave enough room so both loved ones can be honoured individually, this is critically important. When we send you a template, we will also show you what the future inscription will look like, so you can be sure there is enough space.

Please see below for an example

8. Seek guidance:
Ask us, or get input from another family member or a friend for their opinion if you can’t decide on a certain aspect of the wording or design.

Remember, the headstone inscription is meant to serve as a lasting tribute to your loved one. Take your time and choose words that truly capture their essence and the impact they had on your life.

9. Who should take the lead in choosing the gravestone and the inscription?
We find it’s always helpful if one person takes the lead in the proceedings. It is of course very important to get everyone’s input, but if everyone is trying to get the headstone the way they want it, no one ends up happy. If you have a draft of what you would like the inscription to read, we then make a template for you to show you how it will look once the headstone has been installed, you can of course change the template as many times as you like to get it perfect.

10. Keep things pleasing to the eye:
Here are some layouts that are popular. You can have the layout any way you like but this is just to give you an idea.

11. Optional Extras:

In addition to the inscription, you can add an etching or carving and also have it hand painted by our artist if you wish. The choices of optional extras can be overwhelming because there are so many options to choose from, but it’s better not to have too much or the headstone can start to look cluttered. If you would like more than two etchings or carvings it can be better to have a separate granite flower vase and add the etching to it, like the example below.

But you will never go wrong with just the inscription on the headstone itself.

Click here for examples of extra choices that can be added to the memorial headstone.

Headstone painting Examples
Headstone Paintings
Photo Design Blasting
Headstone Etchings
Headstone Etchings

12. Avoid anything that can be considered offensive.
It may seem strange to state this but cemeteries have strict rules of what is allowed to be inscribed onto gravestones.

For example, remarks about football clubs, if they could be seen as offensive councils will not allow this. Also blaming a specific person for a death would not be allowed.

13. Choose a good title for the first line:
Please click here to see a list of popular first line titles.


14. How to sum up your loved one with the inscription:

The “descriptive line” comes after your loved one’s name and date of birth and death. This is the area where you can sum up the person and tell passersby  a bit about the person. It’s good to keep this short and sweet. Try to write something which meant a lot to your loved one rather than writing about your grief. There’s nothing wrong with writing “sorely missed” or something along that lines but short and sweet when writing about grief is a good way to go.

Think of something that stirs up the fondest memories that are heart-warming.

You may also like an “Epitaph” added to the stone, we have an expert guide to writing an epitaph here.

 15. Do you repeat the surname for the husband and wife on the headstone?
Whether to repeat the surname for both people on the headstone is a personal choice but here are a few different suggestions:

Gravestone inscription template
Headstone inscription layout

Or something a bit more personal

On a personal note, one way we don’t recommend laying out the inscription is by putting someone’s name like the below example. This is because when “Jane” passes away, her name will be mentioned immediately again on the next line, so effectively “Jane’s” name will be on the headstone twice. 

Headstone / Gravestone inscription template

It looks very nice when the deceased names are on a line of their own with no other writing, so they stand out. Unless there is a specific reason you would like it that way, which is fine. But we would highlight things like this to you when discussing your inscription template.

The main thing is, try to make the headstone inscription look pleasing to the eye with all the correct details.

We hope this section has covered most of your questions about how to write an inscription, however if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to get in touch and speak to one of our friendly office staff.

We supply & erect headstones nationwide.