What Headstone Shape is Right for you?

What Headstone Shape is Right for you?

headstone memorial plaque gravestone marker plaque

Headstones come in all shapes and sizes. A stroll through any local cemetery is an introduction to the many shapes you’ll see. With so man shapes available how do you start your search.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the most popular headstone shapes. From classic to non-traditional, you’ll want to choose something that has meaning to you. However, buying a headstone or grave marker isn’t always easy. You need to be familiar with your full range of options, including the different shapes available. 

While it’s up to you to determine what shapes appeal the most to your loved one’s legacy or your own legacy, it’s helpful to know all of your options. 

What Headstone Shape Is Right for You?

Most people haven’t given a lot of thought to headstone shapes. Unless you’ve personally shopped for a headstone yourself, you might not even have realised just how many shapes are available.

So, what type of headstone shape appeals to you? How does it fit your idea of legacy, remembrance, and symbolism? These headstones leave much room for interpretation, and sometimes you’ll need to find your own meaning. Most importantly, remember these markers of remembrance are very much for the living. As long as it’s something you like, you’re on the right track. 

Traditional Upright Headstone Shapes

When most people think of gravestones, they really think of headstones. These are the standard, upright monuments typically placed at the head of the grave.

These come in the most shapes and sizes

1. Square top

A square top headstone is exactly what it sounds like. If the top is flat, creating a square shape, this is a square headstone.

These are common in modern cemetery headstones.

headstone plaque shape

2. Checked top

The checked top headstone is similar to the square top in that it also has many stark angles. However, there is also an upper portion raised within the square.

This creates an angular, dramatic shape, and it’s a unique take on the traditional headstone design. 

3. Oval or arc

The most common type of cemetery headstone you’ll encounter is the traditional oval or arc shape. This is the rounded oval top that most people are familiar with.

While this isn’t as common today as it used to be, it has a vintage, timeless appearance, especially when used with stone material. 

4. Oval with shoulders

Another vintage option is the traditional oval with shoulders. This has the same oval top, but with square “shoulders” on the sides.

These are seen most often in older cemeteries, but they’re still a popular choice for today’s burials. 

5. Half-round

The half-round shape is a more dramatic version of the oval. The entire upper half is rounded, creating a continuous curve design.

teardrop headstone gravestone

This is an effortless, whimsical look that sometimes feels fitting for modern burials. 

6. Teardrop

This shape resembles that of a teardrop. 


Popular Flat Memorial Plaque Shapes

There are no limits to today’s headstone designs, and many choose a flat grave marker instead of something that stands upright. Not only do these blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, but they leave ample space for engravings and customising. 

7. Square or rectangle

It comes as no surprise that the most traditional flat grave marker shape is a square or a rectangle.

These are typically the most affordable, and they’re usually made of metal or natural stone. They’re easily engraved with personal information, and there might be additional design elements to help them stand out. 

8. Circle or oval

Aside from square or rectangle shapes, the circle and oval are also popular. It’s seen as less dramatic or severe as an angular flat marker. It’s commonly used in children or infant burials as a symbol for youth and innocence, but it’s not limited to any specific age. 

Unique Headstone or Plaque Shapes

Finally, there are a number of unique headstone or Plaque shapes that are quickly gaining in popularity. These might not have been typical in some of the cemeteries of the past, but they’re quickly becoming the norm today. 

How to Choose the Right Marker for Your Needs

How do you decide which shape is right for you? While this depends on a number of different factors, most people make their decision on the following:

  • Cemetery rules: Some cemeteries have their own rules on the types of plaques, markers, and headstones allowed. There are typically size limits and material restrictions. 
  • Budget: Of course, it often comes down to budget. The size and shape of the headstone impact the price. For something less expensive, a flat marker is a better choice. If the budget isn’t a concern, a full-sized headstone might be the right fit. 
  • Engravings: Another thing to consider is any engravings. Most people have the person’s name, date of birth, date of death, and a prayer or epitaph engraved on their headstone. This means the shape needs to accommodate this space. 
  • Meaning: Last but not least, the shape should mean something to the deceased of their loved ones. 

There’s no right or wrong choice when choosing a headstone. These markers are a form of physical legacy, and they should be something you’re proud of. 


Back to blog