Obituary vs. Death Notice: The Key Differences

Two important ways to honor the deceased and announce their passing are the death notice and the obituary. Although both play a role in the context of mourning, they differ in several key aspects. In this article, we aim to provide an overview of these differences.

Death Notice: The Formal Announcement

A death notice is primarily a formal announcement of a person's passing. Its main purpose is to inform a wider circle of people about the loss and provide practical details.

  • Typical contents: Name of the deceased, dates of birth and death, information about the funeral or memorial service, names of surviving family members
  • Format and length: Short and concise, often no longer than a quarter or half of a newspaper page
  • Where it appears: Traditionally in daily newspapers, increasingly also on special online platforms
  • Author: Usually created by close relatives or the funeral home on behalf of the family

Obituary: The Detailed Tribute

An obituary goes beyond mere announcement and offers a more comprehensive tribute to the deceased and their life.

  • Typical contents: Biography, professional achievements, personal anecdotes, character traits, contribution to society
  • Format and length: Significantly longer than a death notice, can span several paragraphs or even pages
  • Where it appears: Newspapers, magazines, online media, special memorial pages
  • Author: Journalists, colleagues, friends, or family members with a deeper connection to the deceased

Main Differences at a Glance

Aspect Death Notice Obituary
Purpose Information and announcement Tribute and remembrance
Length Short Detailed
Content Facts and practical information Life story and personal details
Tone Formal Personal to journalistic
Timing Immediately after death Can appear later

When to Choose Which Format?

A death notice is appropriate when:

  • You want to quickly inform a wide circle of people
  • You want to communicate practical details about the funeral
  • You prefer a formal announcement

An obituary is more suitable when:

  • You want to extensively honor the life and work of the deceased
  • The deceased was a well-known personality
  • You want to share personal stories and memories

Digital Possibilities

Our online platform offers you the possibility to combine death notices and obituaries. You can create a death notice that also contains elements of an obituary. The advantages of digital formats are:

  • Easy creation and quick distribution
  • Ability to include photos and videos
  • Interactive elements such as online condolence books
  • Flexibility in length and design
  • Long-term availability as a digital memorial

Create a digital death notice here