Adding a new obituary

We are adding volunteers here at Marshall County, so it is time to write up tutorials about how to add obituaries to our site.

The software we use for our website is WordPress, which is very popular in part because it is so easy to use. You will not need to know any special codes or languages to create good looking pages on the site. You will need to know a little bit about using a web browser, and some of the basics about editing – the same skills you need for using a word processor or sending an e-mail. Most likely if you have found this site you already have all the skills, software, and hardware you need to volunteer here!

Adding an obituary is easy, but you will need two things: the name of the cemetery where the individual is buried, and at least the text of the obituary. Our site can also include almost any kind of digital media with an obituary – photos, audio, or video – but they are not required.

The following is a step-by-step introduction for adding an obituary to our site, and then linking it in the two places it should be linked – the main Obituaries page, and from the cemetery survey where the individual is interred. The tutorial is supposed to be simple and easy, so we will not address some of the complications which might come up in practice—if you have any questions just ask!


Once you are logged into your account on the site, you will have an additional menu across the top of every page. One of the menu options is New. Clicking on this displays a list of things you can create, select Page which brings up a new, blank page in the editor. Now we begin the steps:

  1. In the right-hand column, the section entitled Page Attributes, click the Parent menu to display the list of pages. Select Obituaries. This will place your new obituary under the main obituaries page when the site is sorting pages.
  2. In the main editing section, in the upper right-hand corner are two tabs – one saying ‘Visual’ and the other saying ‘Text’; select the Text tab. This puts the editor in text mode, rather than WYSIWYG, which is important when copying and pasting text between programs.
  3. If you are manually transcribing from a newspaper clipping or an image, just enter the text as you would any other document you are typing. Or you can copy the obituary text from whereever you are getting it from – a word document, a genealogy program, another website page, etc (control-c or command-c in most operating systems will copy the highlighted text) and then click inside the main editing section, and paste the text there. (control-v or command-v in most operating systems will paste the text in the new location.)
  4. Check there is a blank line between each paragraph, that the lines of each paragraph are not oddly broken up with unnecessary returns. (This helps the text look nice once it is formatted.)
  5. Click the ‘Visual’ tab in the upper-right. You will now get to see roughly how the obituary will look in the website. Does everything look okay? There are many editor buttons – just like in your word processor or e-mail software – to help you get it looking just right.
  6. Now create the title. Our standard way of creating the title is using the person’s names like this:
    • “Familyname, First Second Third ‘Nickname if any’ (Birthfamilyname Secondfamilyname Thirdfamilyname) (BBBB-DDDD)”

    where ‘BBBB’ is the year of birth and ‘DDDD’ is the year of death. Not every individual will have all of these fields, and of course more names may require more spaces.

  7. Add a link to the cemetery survey page. If the obituary mentions the cemetery, highlight the name of the cemetery in the text, click the link button (it looks like three links of chain), and type in the url of the cemetery. If the obituary does not mention the cemetery, at the bottom add an “Editor’s note” that looks something like this:
  8. Add a note at the bottom where the obituary came from, for example “From Johnson Funeral Service”, or “Published 23 Feb 2017 Warren Sheaf”, or “From Find A Grave Memorial# 174883504” or whatever suits the situation. If you are manually transcribing, this is a good place to make a note of that: “Transcribed by: Your Name”.
  9. Now publish it! there is a button to publish the page near the top of the right-hand column.

Officially, the obituary is now done, and you can look at it if you would like, but to make it easier to find you will want to add a link to it from the appropriate pages. The first thing to do is copy the url of the obituary so you can use it later. You can view the page and then copy the url from the address bar of your browser. (A small secret is you can guess the url. For “Doe, Jane Anne (Foobar) (1972-2017)” if you followed all the steps so far the url will be “https://mnmarshallus.genweb.io/people/obituaries/doe-jane-anne-foobar-1972-2017”, basically the names in lower case and the years, and replacing all spaces and puntuation with a dash.)

  1. Open the Obituaries page and you will see, in the top navigation menu, that you can edit this page. The page is very long, but find the place in the alphabetical list for the title of your obituary. Insert a new line between the two where yours should be, and type in the title of the new obituary, e.g. Doe, Jane Anne (Foobar) (1972-2017). Now highlight the title and click the link button (three chain links) and type in (or paste) the url, and hit return. And you have added the link! Now to save your change, click the ‘Update’ button, which is the same spot the publish button used to be. This is because the page is already published and available, and your changes will become available as soon as you update.
  2. Similarly, open the the cemetery page, for example the Ringbo cemetery, click the ‘Edit Page’ in the top menu, and scroll down to the row of the individual. In the last column of the table, add the word “Obit”, then highlight the word, click the link button (three chain links), and type or paste the url. Click the update button in the upper-right column to save your changes, and now you are done adding an obituary to the site!

Author: W Saewyc

An amateur genealogist and internet hobbyist.

2 thoughts on “Adding a new obituary”

  1. Wayne,
    Where do I find the list of obituaries to add? The other day I just added recent obits that I had found.
    Thanks.

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