What to Write on a Headstone

Updated April 17, 2017

Choosing what to write on a loved one’s headstone is often a very difficult task. You want to choose something that has special meaning to the family and friends of the deceased. You also want to choose something that reflects the life of the deceased. While the customary inscriptions on headstones are the person’s name and the dates marking their life, there are other things which can be added to further personalise the headstone.

Famous Quotes

Think about who your loved one’s hero was. Whether that person was a family member, celebrity, or other well-known personality', you can use a favourite or famous quote from that person as part of the inscription on the headstone. You can also choose a quote that reminds you of the person such as a quote from a philosopher like Kant, Sophocles or Ghandi.

Written Word

Another idea for what to write on a headstone is to select from the deceased’s favourite poem or book and engrave that on the headstone. Try to choose a passage that is not long; engravers generally charge based on length. It will also be difficult to write a long quote on a headstone which will have limited space.


If your loved one was more a lover of media such as art, film, television, or music, consider writing something that reflects that on their headstone. For art you can use either a quote from the artist or simply use the title of the artwork as an inscription. You can also use a quote from your loved one’s favourite film, television show, or song. This type of inscription will help you to remember something that your loved one cared about as well as help visitors to know something personal about the deceased.

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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.