Funeral Consumers Alliance of Champaign County, IL

Publishing an Obituary

Nearly every family wishes to publish an obituary promptly after the death of a family member, both as a way of notifying the community of the death and as a means of memorializing the deceased person’s life. How is that done? What does it cost? What should be included in an obituary?

In Champaign County the only newspaper available for printing obituaries is the Champaign News-Gazette. Niko Dugan, managing editor of the News- Gazette, kindly provided the following information about the newspaper’s policies for printing obituaries. The News-Gazette normally accepts obituaries that have been submitted to it by funeral directors, cremation societies or other providers of funeral services, which already have an account with the News-Gazette for that purpose. However, individuals may also submit obituaries using a Public Submission Form available at In those cases the News-Gazette will require independent verification of the death from a source such as the county coroner, local police or a member of the clergy. The newspaper does not accept phoned-in obituaries; it may accept handwritten or faxed versions on a case-by-case basis or in an emergency. If at all possible, one should use the web site above and/or provide a typed version that can be easily shared by electronic means. Questions about public submission of an obituary may be directed to the News-Gazette at 217-393-5252, extension 3.

The News-Gazette publishes a simple one-paragraph death notice, which lists the name, age and home town of the deceased, as well as the funeral home handling arrangements without charge. A somewhat longer two-paragraph death notice, which gives the above information, circumstances of death and the time and location of funeral services, is also published without charge. However, most families will wish to publish a longer description of the deceased person’s family members and friendships as well as a summary of his or her life story, activities and accomplishments. The cost of publishing such longer obituaries depends on their length. The News-Gazette charges ten cents per character, which comes to about $10 per column inch. Mr. Dugan stated that the typical obituary costs $250 to $350. A half column-width photo can be included for an additional $40; a full column width photo for $100. An obituary can be printed again on a second day for half of the price of the first printing.

What should be included in an obituary? There are no formal requirement for the contents of an obituary, but certainly the basic facts of a deceased person’s life should be given. The News-Gazette accepts obituaries as written with only modest editing to conform to standard format and to correct obvious errors. Funeral homes are generally quite helpful in preparing an obituary if assistance is needed. We feel that it is a good practice for persons in later years to write a draft of their own obituary or seek the assistance of someone close in doing so. Such a draft helps family members to have accurate biographical information, to know what the deceased felt was important about his or her life and provides any messages they wish to leave behind. The draft can obviously be modified by surviving family members or close friends as fits the situation and emotional needs at the time of death. It is even possible to estimate the cost of publishing a draft obituary at the News-Gazette web site listed above.

An obituary should honor the life of the deceased and provide comfort to their survivors. It informs the public of an important event. With some advance preparation it can be made available promptly and published at modest cost.

Written by Robert Switzer, FCACC Board Vice President
November 2023