9 Tips and hints for getting your headstone inscription just right

9 Tips for the perfect Headstone Inscription



Headstones are large, expensive, and permanent. Getting it just right is so important. Glasstone inscriptions can be anything from a lengthy description to a short sentence but whatever you choose you want it done well. 

In order to get something suitable, here are some handy tips to help you get the headstone inscription just right. 

1. Pick a leader

This will be one person in your family who can do the research, figure out what it should say, find (or negotiate!) the best price, and get it done.

While this person should accept input from other family members, our experience working with families on inscriptions tells me that group decisions rarely work out for everyone. If there are too many cooks in the kitchen, things can go pear-shaped. Especially once revisions and changes start getting made, all bets are off.

Better to have one person in charge who will make a good job of it. As long as the name and dates are on there, it will be just fine.

2. Take your time.

A Glasstone is a MAJOR purchase. You should never be pushed into something you don’t want. Try and stay calm so you are not rushed and end up forgetting something important, or even worse, make a mistake!

Take the time to think through what you want. The wording, the font, the style. Then, once you have everything, double-check the spelling and date from the birth certificate and also the date from the death certificate. It’s surprising how easy it is to get a birth or death date wrong, especially with all the stress surrounding the death, funeral, and burial. Take your time.

3. Keep it simple.

Simple minimalism = classy and always in style. You can’t go wrong by keeping it short and sweet. See the end of this article for some layout ideas.

Headstones can involve so many bells and whistles, add-ons, and personalized options. The choices can be really overwhelming. With so many options, there are so many ways to mess it all up. We suggest you go for understated class instead.

Name and dates for sure, and consider a brief inscription or quote and a simple slumped image or etching. This will not only keep the costs down but you will end up with a more beautiful headstone.

4. Lettering is important. 

Choose lettering and styles that are timeless. Serif fonts will always look good on a headstone. Handwritten fonts are a great way to add personality. You can choose between all-caps and a mix of upper and lowercase (or a combination of both styles) and it will look great.

5. Your loved one was already unique.

You want the memorial to reflect reality. Sometimes the push towards making every aspect of your glasstone customised can be too much. Keeping it simple and using fonts to reflect personality or images can be enough. Remember that your loved one already is unique. There is no way that any phrase, poem, or image can capture them completely or perfectly. And that’s ok.

6. The first line.

Consider alternate opening lines to “in loving memory”:

  • In Memoriam
  • In Remembrance
  • Happy Memories Of
  • In Fondest Memory Of
  • In Treasured Memory Of
  • Here Lies
  • In Honoured Memory Of
  • In Cherished Memory Of
  • A Life Well Lived
  • At Home
  • At Rest
  • Gone Too Soon

7. Aim for something that stirs emotion.

      The descriptive line that comes after name and date is another one that can easily become cluttered. Many inscriptions are swamped with adjectives and attributes: “Loving and devoted wife of John and mother of Sally, Timmy, Brian, and Karen” etc.

      While the above option is great, alternatively, why not choose a well-composed sentence that sums up what you are trying to say: “Her acts of kindness will be treasured.”

      8. Be Inspired.

      If you find it difficult to create your own emotionally resonant inscription, get inspired by the best. Choose a line from a poem, hymn, song, Scripture, or famous author. These are words that have already had a profound impact on many people in your generation or throughout history. Why not go with the greats.

      9. Ask our opinion

      We take such pride in our work and won’t steer you wrong. Try asking us about the classiest headstone, or the most meaningful, or the most interesting. Ask what we will put on our headstone (you will be shocked!). A few creative questions directed at someone who has been in the industry for a long time can inspire you!

      In summary…

      Keep it simple, think about the character qualities that truly resonate when you think about your loved one, and go with your heart. Those are the words you will recognise and treasure at each return visit to the site.



      Most headstone inscriptions will include the name and dates.

      There is a range of text set-ups here are some of the most popular:

      4 line with top line:                                      5 line:

      Top Line                                                              Top Line
      Surname                                                             Surname
      First Names                                                      First Names
      Dates                                                                    Dates
                                                                                       Epitaph +

      * The top line is often something like “In Loving Memory” or “At Rest”.
      + The epitaph line is typically a brief bible passage, quote or phrase that sums up the deceased.


      Use the decedent’s full legal name. This includes middle name(s) and any suffixes such as Jr. or III.

      Susan Karen Smith

      James Reginald Suffolk IV

      If the decedent had a nickname, it’s ideal to place it in quotes after the first given name. For example, if Joe Smith was known to everyone as “Pops”, the traditional setup would read:           Joe “Pops” Smith


      Sometimes people choose to write out “born” and “died,” but typically just the dates separated by a dash or on two lines will suffice. The traditional formula for dates includes the month spelt out followed by the date, a comma, and the year.

      September 13, 1922 – August 1, 2007

      Other variations on the dates:

      9/13/1922 – 8/1/2007
      13 Sep 1922 – 01 Aug 2007
      1922 – 2007

      Born: 9/13/22      Died: 8/1/07


      Often families will add a brief quote, saying, verse, or sentiment. This can be as simple as “In Loving Memory” or “Forever Loved” above the name and dates. It can get as lengthy or detailed as you like.

      Here are a few examples of additional things to say on the headstone inscription:

      • Always in Our Hearts
      • Forever Loved, Forever Missed
      • Rest In Peace
      • In the Arms of Jesus
      • Gone Fishin’
      • Together Forever
      • Until We Meet Again
      • Loving Husband and Devoted Father
      • Beloved Wife, Mother, and Grandmother
      • Well done, good and faithful servant
      • The best is yet to come


      We offer imagery in the form of slumped hand drawn images, images etched on the face of the glass and ceramic plaques added to the glasstones. Both are a beautiful way to commemorate your loved one. 
      Here is an example of:

      Etching on the face (the rose)             
      Etched headstone                          

      Slumped in the back - the mountain scene
      this also includes a ceramic image on the face.

      Image slumped                                                           

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