Headstone Inscriptions: Wording to put on a memorial

Headstone Inscriptions: Wording to put on a memorial

Most people regard the wording on a headstone as the most significant in creating a memorial. Etched into stone, the headstone inscription is the departing message for a loved one. Tasked with this responsibility, a monumental mason needs to make sure that the wording is clear, appropriate and meets your satisfaction.

If you want to know more about the engraving process, this section will take you through some of key decisions that can be discussed with our stone masons.

Inscriptions for existing monuments

One thing that influences cost of a gravestone is the quality of granite used. The reality is buying a monument can seem expensive, so you might be tempted to go with a cheaper option.

Inscriptions for existing monuments

Additional inscriptions

This is a common scenario when there’s an existing monument for two (sometimes more) people. When the second person passes, a new inscription needs to be put on.


You may already have a headstone (Usually made from marble or sandstone) in the cemetery that has deteriorated and become unreadable. In this situation, the most cost effective solution would be to replace the headstone

Inscriptions for new headstones

If you’re creating a new memorial, there are three key decisions that need to be made.

Headstone engraving options

There are four headstone lettering options to choose from. Ultimately, how you want the wording to look will depend on your personal tastes and choice of granite. It’s important to understand that some options will require more maintenance than others.

Inscriptions for new headstones

Cut in

As the name suggests, the letters are the only part of the rock exposed to the sandblaster. This option is a simple, cost effective, and bold engraving option that requires no maintenance.


The opposite of cut in, this is where everything but the wording is exposed to the sandblaster. Just like cut in, the inscription will require no maintenance, making it a popular option with customers.

Gold leaf

For those looking for a more elegant finish, the the gold leaf option is a suitable choice. For gold inscriptions, the letters are engraved more deeply and are then gilded with gold leaf. As the headstone is outside and therefore exposed to elements, the inscription will require some maintenance over time in order to keep that shiny finish.

Silver paint

Offering something a little more unique, a silver paint finish provides a slick and bold look. However just like gold leaf, it is prone to weathering and therefore requires ongoing maintenance.

Different granite/contrasts: It may also be an advisable option when it comes to certain types of granite (Usually red , due to contrast).

Headstone fonts & symbols

Some introduction text here too, at least 2 lines would be nice to keep it uniform with the other sections on this page.


Unless you have a specific preference for a particular font, one of our stone masons will be able to suggest a font that is most suitable for your headstone design. We provide hundreds of fonts that fall into the four categories: serif, san serif, old english, and script.


If the deceased came from a different cultural or ethnic background, you may wish to combine a few languages on the headstone. This is very common and can be elegantly displayed. Our masons have experience dealing with languages such as: Hebrew, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Mandarin, Greek, and a range of others.

Headstone messages – what to write

Coming up with a message or an epitaph for a headstone can be difficult and therefore shouldn’t be rushed. Whether it’s a quote, saying, verse, or bible passage, the message should hold meaning for friends and family.


Symbols can be a meaningful addition to for the wording on an inscription. Usually combined with wording, a symbol can have religious, spiritual, and personal significance.

While there are no set rules for what to write on a headstone, most people follow a general pattern.

Headstone inscriptions
  • – Heading
  • – Date of birth and passing details
  • – Relationships
  • – Final message

If you need some guidance about what to write, this section on headstone writing will give you some ideas.

Gravestone inscriptions

If you’ve chosen a full monument, there’s the option of placing wording on other parts of the memorial besides the headstone.



Inscribing a message that lies horizontally.



Creating a short message that will lie on the desk tablet.

Inscription costs

In terms of pricing for a headstone inscription, there is no industry standard. Some monumental masons will charge by letters, lines, or possibly on a time basis. Our policy is to include the inscription cost within the price of the headstone. That means, no extra cost will be charged for lettering, symbols, or gold leaf.