What to Put on a Headstone

Updated April 17, 2017

Deciding what should go on a loved one’s headstone is often a very emotional and difficult task. Because the headstone will mark the final resting place of your friend or family member, it is important that it relate something of who that person was in life.

Name and Date

The basic things that go on anyone’s headstone is her full name and the dates that mark her birth and death. You can use her real, formal name or her nickname, whatever she preferred to use.


Many people like to have images engraved on their loved one’s headstones. These are usually rather simple in nature and depict religious figures such as an angel, cherub, cross or star. You can further personalise the headstone by using an image that depicts something special to the person being honoured, such as music notes, ballet shoes or animals. The size and detail of the image will often depend on the size and material of the headstone.


You may choose to personalise a headstone with a short verse or phrase. Many engravers charge by the letter or word, and the length of the verse may depend on how large the headstone is. Bible verses are a popular choice. You might consider a selection from the deceased's favourite poem or song, or a quote from a person, book or film. When choosing a verse for a headstone, consider what was important to the deceased and what he would feel spoke the most about his life.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Kristin Swain has been a professional writer since 1998. Her experience includes publication in various literary magazines and newspapers, such as the "Butler Herald." Swain has edited work for network television shows "NCIS" and "seaQuest." She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Georgia State University.