How to write a press
notice (obituary)

Need to write a press notice as part of your funeral arrangements in Toronto? If so, you may find the task more challenging than you first imagined. It’s not easy to sum up a life prior to the deceased’s service. Thankfully, the notice has a standard form which, if honoured, will simplify your task. Here’s what you need to know in order to write a death announcement for the Star or other Toronto publication.


The Function of a Press Notice

It’s useful to keep in mind the purpose of an obituary before you set out to write one. The intended function is threefold:

  1. It alerts the public to the deceased’s death

  2. It commemorates the life lived

  3. It invites those who knew the deceased to the service

What to Include

Given the above points, it makes sense to include the following information:

  • The deceased’s full name, age, marital status and place of residence. A maiden name can be included in parentheses.

  • The date, place and general circumstances of the death. In only a small percentage of notices are the cause of death mentioned and you shouldn’t feel obligated to include this information.

  • A list of all close family members. Their names should be arranged in order of closeness to the departed starting with spouse, then children, grandchildren, parents and siblings. Cousins, nephews, and other relatives are generally not mentioned by name unless they were particularly close. It’s also possible to sum up these family members (ex. 12 cousins, seven nieces and four nephews).

  • Universal biographical details. Though every life lived is unique, there are certain key components that are archetypal. These details include: the deceased’s place of birth and/or where they grew up, their parents’ names, the date and place of their marriage, the details of their education and life’s work, and any important awards and recognitions for military service or other achievements. If there are numerous awards, summarize them as best as you can and emphasize only the most important ones.

  • Personal details and a reflection on the deceased’s character. Try to say something about their impact on their community, and give one or two examples that illustrate the kind of person they were.

  • The details of the service. This includes, date, time and location. If there will be visitations prior to the service or an interment afterwards, include this information as well.

  • Concluding remarks or a special statement. You may wish to include a note at the end to thank a caregiver, make an announcement of a reception, or suggest a charity (ex. “if desired, donations may be made to the Cancer Society in the deceased’s name”). A line of scripture or poetry may also finalize the notice.

Here for You in Your Time of Need

For further guidance on writing a notice, or for assistance with planning funeral arrangements in Toronto, please contact us at Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles - Newbigging Chapel Ltd and schedule a consultation today.