How Much Does It Cost To Publish An Obituary? Breaking It Down - Trustworthy: The Family Operating System® (2024)

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Joel Lim


November 1, 2023

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How Much Does It Cost To Publish An Obituary? Breaking It Down - Trustworthy: The Family Operating System® (1)

How Much Does It Cost To Publish An Obituary? Breaking It Down - Trustworthy: The Family Operating System® (2)

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Funeral costs can add up in the blink of an eye, including everything from headstones to caskets to the service itself. You might also be wondering, how much does it cost to publish an obituary?

To help you decide where to publish it and how much it will cost you, we broke down everything there is to know about this funeral expense.

Key Takeaways

  • Several factors affect the cost of publishing an obituary. On average, it will cost anywhere between $100-$1,000.

  • Publishing it in local or smaller metropolitan newspapers costs around $60 to start. Large metropolitan newspapers charge anywhere from $263 to several thousands of dollars.

  • Cheaper alternatives to publishing in the newspaper include online-only newspapers, memorial websites and social media.

How Much Does It Cost To Publish An Obituary?

It’s tough to average the costs of obituaries because of the number of factors determining their price.

Funeral Service Director, Stephanie Kelly, explains:

“The cost of an obituary will vary depending on where you choose to publish it. Local newspapers typically charge a fee per line, while online obituary websites and social media are free.”

A baseline average cost across different mediums can range between $100-$1,000.

The factors determining this price include where you publish, word count, any expenses associated with writing the obituary, additional costs to add photos, and the number of days you want it to run (newspapers only).

Some of these factors only apply to obituaries published in the newspaper. However, newspapers are still the most popular medium to publish obituaries, so it’s important to realize how the cost can add up.

Where you publish the obituary is key. Local newspapers with a smaller reader base or more available space will charge less than those from a large metropolitan area with huge readers and mass circulation.

Newspapers will also typically charge by the word to print the obituary. Longer obituaries with more information will cost more. Add in a photo, and you have an additional cost. If you want the obituary to run for multiple days in the paper instead of just one, it also adds a nice chunk of change to your final reciept.

Sample Newspaper Obituary Costs Across the U.S.

How Much Does It Cost To Publish An Obituary? Breaking It Down - Trustworthy: The Family Operating System® (3)

See Also

Here are some obituary costs from newspapers around the U.S., along with their current average circulation to serve as a point of reference.

“Milwaukee Journal Sentinel”

The “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” is the largest newspaper in Wisconsin, with an average circulation of 150,000 copies. This is a big-name newspaper in one of the most populated cities in Wisconsin.

The average obituary cost starts at around $60 and charges $8 per line. There is an additional $50 fee for any photos and options to run for multiple days, which adds more fees.

“St. Louis Post-Dispatch”

The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” is the largest metropolitan newspaper in the area, with an average circulation of 105,000 copies. Although St. Louis is not the capital of Missouri, it’s still one of the most populated cities in the state.

Obituaries start at around $153 for around 120 characters, and costs increase if it’s longer. The Sunday edition of the paper has a higher circulation and, therefore, charges more. There is also an additional cost for photos.

“The Villages Daily Sun”

The “Villages Daily Sun” is a smaller, more local newspaper serving a specific area of Florida. Its average circulation is around 49,000 copies.

An obituary in this paper will start at around $100 and offers additional length for an extra fee. There are photo options as well, but they cost extra per image. This paper also has a varying rate depending on the day of the week and edition.

“New York Daily News”

The “New York Daily News” is a newspaper based in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a slightly lower average circulation of around 45,000 copies.

Although the publication covers news from the most populated city in the U.S., it’s much more affordable than other New York papers, meaning less strain on your wallet.

The average obituary cost starts at around $133 and charges by line of text. You are only offered the option to print for one day, and there is an additional cost for a photo.

“The Buffalo News”

The “Buffalo News” is the metropolitan newspaper from the downtown area of Buffalo, New York. Buffalo is a large city with a hefty population and maintains an average circulation of around 56,000 copies, with larger numbers for their Sunday edition paper.

Despite this newspaper’s circulation and metropolitan base, obituaries start at around $38. There are options to add photos, to run for multiple days and to publish on Sundays, which adds to the initial cost.

“Chicago Sun-Times”

The “Chicago Sun-Times” is the second-largest newspaper in Chicago. It’s a non-profit newspaper with an impressive average circulation of around 57,000 copies.

Given its larger size and circulation, the “Chicago Sun-Times” charges a relatively high amount to publish obituaries. The cost starts at $233 and includes 150 words for one day and a feature online. There are options to add photos and more text for an additional expense.

“Los Angeles Times”

The “Los Angeles Times” is the biggest paper in the western United States. This paper has an average circulation of over 650,000 copies. As you can expect for a large paper, the cost to publish an obituary is outrageously high.

The starting cost on average is between $1,000-$1,500. This price is only for one day in print, not to mention additional costs for more text and any photos you would like to add.

The “Los Angeles Times” offers additional formatting options and bundles for the obituary. The simplest option starts at over $400, and the more complex ones can cost up to several thousand.

“The Washington Post”

The “Washington Post” is the largest newspaper in Washington, D.C. It features an average circulation of around 159,000 copies, making it one of the top five highest-circulating newspapers in the country.

The starting cost for an obituary in this paper is $400, including 2 inches of print space for one day and an included online feature. Photos and additional space will cost more.

“The New York Times”

The “New York Times” is one of the most famous newspapers in the United States, ranking at number two for highest circulation in the country. It has an average circulation of around 740,000 copies.

Since it’s based in the largest city in the U.S., its readership is massive, and publishing costs are proportionately high and proportionately taxing.

The starting cost for an obituary containing 4 lines of text and a photo for one day in print is $263. There are extra costs for additional text, but the obituary can not go over 250 lines.

“The Wall Street Journal”

The “Wall Street Journal” is the largest-running newspaper in the United States. It features international news. The paper is based in New York City. The average circulation is around 649,000 copies.

Pricing for obituaries in the “Wall Street Journal” depends on length and photos, and iif you want to publish nationally or regionally. The price for publishing nationally starts at $1,000, while publishing regionally starts at $200.

Lower-Cost Alternatives to a Newspaper Obituary

How Much Does It Cost To Publish An Obituary? Breaking It Down - Trustworthy: The Family Operating System® (4)

If publishing in the newspaper seems too costly or you don’t want to be restricted by word count, there are several lower-cost alternatives.

Online-Only Newspapers

While many print newspapers offer you the option to have an online feature in addition to the printed obituary, some offer the option to only post online. Given that print space is not limited, online newspapers often have this option set at a lower price point.

Besides the agreeable price, several great features are included in this option. For starters, there is typically no limit for length or word count. You can include all the personal details and stories you wish about your loved one with little to no restrictions. You likely won’t have to pay any extra to add photos either.

Another great part about publishing online is the obituary page will be there to view as long the site exists. Your loved one’s memory won’t be confined to only one day. It can be seen as many times as you wish. Follow our helpful guide to see what information you can include in an obituary.

However, there’s still a fee to publish online. For some newspapers, this may cost more than others and can still exceed $100, depending on where you publish.

Memorial Websites

A memorial website is dedicated to obituaries and pages for loved ones who have passed away. These sites offer tailored services and options for you to memorialize your loved one just the way you want.

Memorial websites often include no limitations on the length or number of pictures for your posting. You can include any information, stories or insights that you like with no fear of racking up additional costs.

Most of these sites offer very user-friendly interfaces and various customization options. Some specific features you can add to your obituary are comments and music. On average, you can expect an obituary on a memorial site to be around $50-$100.

The limitation of this option is you can only create a post within your abilities. If you’re not very comfortable operating and adjusting options on a computer, you’ll be unable to use the available features. We recommend requesting help from family or friends who might be more familiar with using website tools.

Social Media

This option is 100% free, offers few limitations on content length and pictures, and is arguably just as effective for reaching people as the paper.

Family members and friends of all ages are on social media. They can be easily reached through the different platforms available. You can relay important information about funerals and celebrate their life through text and media there, too.

In addition, using social media is 100% free (aside from internet and electricity costs). The only requirement is to have an account. There are no limitations on length or pictures when posting, and you are free to share your loved one’s story and life as you please.

There are only limitations of publishing on social media if you have family members who do not use it. Older generations may not have active social media accounts. You have to contact or visit them directly to deliver the important information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the cheapest way to publish an obituary?

The cheapest way to publish an obituary is through social media platforms like Facebook. Posting on these platforms is 100% free and includes little to no limitation on length/content of an obituary.

Why does it cost so much to post an obituary?

Publishing an obituary in the newspaper is expensive because of the limited space papers have. Newspapers value every inch of each page, so they must charge to use that limited space for an obituary.

Do people get paid to write obituaries?

There are paid positions in several popular newspapers for obituary writers. Many papers offer writing services if you do not wish to write the obituary yourself. Some independent professional writers also offer obituary writing services.

How soon should an obituary be published?

If you publish an obituary in the paper, a verification process must be cleared first. Since this process takes time, it’s best to try and publish it within one to two weeks of a loved one's passing.

How Much Does It Cost To Publish An Obituary? Breaking It Down - Trustworthy: The Family Operating System® (2024)
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