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Memorial Plaque Wording

How to Write the Perfect Inscription 
(updated for 2024)

Memorial plaque wording – When designing a memorial for a loved one, the inscription and decorative elements on the monument are a lasting tribute to represent their life, family and legacy.  This inscription or wording is known as an epitaph.

Honouring a loved one is a special privilege, and it can be a daunting task to make all of the decisions necessary. 

Whether your family has decided on a memorial vault, a simple headstone, a single grave monument or a family chapel,  it will ultimately be finished with an epitaph.

Writing the memorial plaque wording is challenging and made more complicated by the limited space available.  

We have put together this guide to assist you if you’re struggling to decide on the best combination of lettering, motifs and words to convey a poignant and lasting tribute.

Elements of a Memorial Plaque

Memorial plaques can come in many shapes and sizes, materials and formats.  They can be in the format of a bronze plaque, a lawn plaque or an inscription engraved or carved in stone.

They are usually written to be quite formal in tone, communicating the feeling of loss felt by family members, but also displaying optimism and hope as a tribute to the life of the person who has passed.

There are, however, no hard and fast rules.  Rather the wording and design should be dictated by the way the person lived their life, the things that they loved and the things that people remember and loved about them.

A witty, humorous one liner may be the best way to sum up the life of a person who lived life impulsively and embraced fun.  A person who was a performer, or a writer may be best remembered with their favourite song or quote.  Looney Tunes voice actor Mel Blanc famously has “That’s all folks!” inscribed on his epitaph.

Although all memorials are personalised, there are several elements that most will have.  The memorial plaque wording, length and layout are also determined by budget, the type of inscription and the kind of monument.

Most inscriptions and plaques will contain a combination of the following:

1. An opening or introduction like “Remembering…”, “In memory of”, or “Dedicated to the memory of”

2. The name of the deceased person or persons in a family monument. 

3. The date that the person was born and died.

4. A personal message, quotation, prayer, poem or phrase that is meaningful to the person. This could be a saying they were well known for, something that summarises their personality or beliefs, or even a bible verse or famous inspirational quote.

5. A summary or end line.  This is like a final word of sentiment showing love or respect for the deceased.  Examples such as  “Forever in God’s arms”, “Resting with Angels”, “Gone but not forgotten”, “Beloved Sister and Mother”, etc.

6. Decorative elements. These can be religious symbols, laser-etched portraits, actual mounted photos, or other meaningful graphics and symbols such as flowers.

7. Photographs and Portraits.  These can be engraved, etched or attached to the plaque or headstone.

Memorial Plaque Wording – The Introduction or Opening

Combinations of wording are seemingly endless when writing inscriptions, but several commonly used phrases are used for introductions or opening wording on epitaphs.  This section may also make reference to the relationships and connections that a person had.

Here are some examples to assist in your planning:

  • Remembering…
  • Dedicated to the Memory Of
  • “Here lies”
  • In loving memory of
  • We remember
  • The final resting place of
  • Cherished memories of
  • In Loving Memory
  • Precious Memories Of
  • Happy Memories Of
  • In Remembrance Of
  • Our Gorgeous Boy / Girl
  • Cherished Memories Of
  • Dearest Memories Of
  • Remembering Our Dear
  • In Memory of
  • In Loving Memory
  • Dedicated to the Memory of
  • In Honor/Honour of
  • A Tribute to
  • In Treasured Memory of
  • In Fondest Memory of
  • Our Beloved Daughter and Sister
  • Survived by Her Children and Grandchildren
  • An Amazing Husband and Dad
  • In celebration of 
  • Honouring…

Name and Nicknames

This usually includes their full name, but can sometimes include nicknames, pseudonyms, and initials.  Sometimes middle names will be omitted due to space limitations.

When a person was known by an alternative name, this will sometimes be used in place of their full name, usually in quotation marks.  For example, Edward “Teddy” Brown.

Date of Birth and Death

The dates on a monument can be used to indicate the day the person was born, the date that they died, or they may also include their age when they passed away.

These dates can be formatted in several ways, depending upon character limits, space, aesthetic, formality and tone and even the materials that the monument or plaque is made from.  Here are some examples of ways to format dates on a memorial plaque.

  • Date Numbers only – indicating date of birth and date of death formatted as: 09.10.1984 – 5.09.2020
  • Letters and numbers for a more formal tone to the epitaph – 9th October 1984 – 5th September 2020
  • The year of birth and death only – 1984 – 2020
  • Date of death only – 5th September 2020
  • Date of death and age – Who Passed Away 05.09.2020, aged 36 years
  • Date of death with wording – Went To Heaven 5th September 2020

Personal Message or Dedication

The personal message or dedication element of an epitaph is the place to truly honour the person being remembered.  Here references can be made to a myriad of things that encompass and reflect the life and loves of your family member in a truly personalised way.

Inspiration can be drawn from any of the following (and is only limited by your imagination):

  • Inspirational Quotes
  • Prayers
  • Bible Verses
  • Idioms
  • Their favourite saying or phrase
  • Something in their own words – such as a letter, a story, social media, or an email.
  • Song lyrics
  • A famous or favourite line from a movie
  • Iconic quotations
  • Book passages
An example of memorial plaque wording with a gold incised inscription and religious and floral embellishments.

End Statement or Life Synopsis

The final element found in most memorial plaque wording is that of an end statement.  The end statement serves as a summary, a life synopsis or a poignant final reminder of how much a person achieved in their life.

Usually in the format of a simple but beautiful one line statement, the end statement can draw from similar inspirations as those listed above for the personal message section.  

It can also be a final sentence, or summary telling the story of their life.

Here are some examples to assist you:

  • Forever in our Hearts
  • Too beautiful for earth
  • Our Beloved Mother / Father
  • Fly high, little one.
  • Beloved Friend
  • A Lover of Life and All Things.
  • Always In Our Hearts
  • Forever Young
  • Gone Too Soon
  • Forever Loved
  • An Angel Has Grown It’s Wings
  • Your Legacy Will Remain Forever
  • The World is Forever Changed
  • Never Forgotten
  • Our Best Friend
  • The Hearts You Touched Are Forever Changed
  • A Lifetime Of Beautiful Memories
  • Forever Loved, Sadly Missed
  • Wife, Mother, Lover and Friend
  • Husband, Father, Lover and Friend
  • Her laugh will resound in our hearts forever
  • Traveler, Adventurer and Wayfarer
  • Always Learning, Always Loving
  • Forever Remembered With A Paintbrush in Her Hand
  • Always in the Pursuit of Knowledge and Truth
  • Gym Junkie, Lover and Friend
  • Never Failed to Make You Smile
  • Life Through Her Eyes Was Unique and Beautiful
  • Heaven Now Knows The Joy You Brought Us

Decorative Elements

With advancements in technology and development of new tools and skills that allow more precise results, today there is a lot more flexibility and additional options that can add flare, beauty and personality to a grave stone or inscription.

Decorative elements can be added that refer to themes, hobbies and personal traits of the person being remembered.

A walk through a cemetery will instantly show the large variety of symbols and motifs that can be used. Custom options can also be designed if required.

Across cultures and religions, many symbols are universally recognised to represent special meaning, themes or feelings.  Some are their purely to decorate or embellish the memorial.  Others are particularly personal to the deceased person.

The addition of a cross, an angel, candles, roses and other floral elements are common.

Likewise, hands clasped or in the shape of prayer, doves, hearts and teddy bears are frequently added.

T. Wrafter & Sons stonemasons has a full online library of decorative elements and motifs that our clients can access to assist them in making their selections. 

Blue Pearl granite with a white incised inscription featuring an emblem.

Blue Pearl granite with a white incised inscription featuring an emblem.

Red Love hearts and white crosses engraved on a headstone to create a unique memorial plaque.

Red Love hearts and white crosses engraved on a headstone to create a unique memorial plaque.

Coloured flowers and a religious symbol with a gold inscription finish this beautiful memorial stone.

Coloured flowers and a religious symbol with a gold inscription finish this beautiful memorial stone.

Photographs and Portraits

Using modern techniques, we are able to etch or engrave a portrait of your loved one directly onto their grave or headstone or memorial plaque.  

This is a frequent request for pet memorials too.

For a more traditional or classic option, actual photographs can be mounted behind glass and framed for protection from the elements too.

Gold incised inscription with a combination of decorative elements including a floral motif, religious symbol and a framed photograph.

Gold incised inscription with a combination of decorative elements including a floral motif, religious symbol and a framed photograph.

Australian Imperial Black granite with a white incised inscription + porcelain photos

Australian Imperial Black granite with a unique design featuring coloured motifs and symbols, white incised inscription and porcelain photos.

Lawn plaque - Carrara Marble with a lead inscription and porcelain photo.

A Carrara Marble lawn plaque in traditional style with a lead inscription and porcelain portrait.

Assistance in Writing Your Memorial Plaque Wording

The T. Wrafter & Sons team are very experienced in offering support and guidance to ensure that your memorial plaque wording is a fitting tribute to your loved one.  We work in collaboration with you to offer suggestions and advice that will honour your memories.  

We welcome the opportunity to work alongside you and invite you to make an appointment to visit our Nudgee office to discuss your requirements.