Urn Inscription: Ideas and Standard Formats

You've chosen the perfect cremation urn for your loved one, and you know that you would like it laser engraved with a personalized inscription including the name and dates of birth and death.

But now it is time to decide exactly what to have inscribed, you wonder: what format should we use?

Should it be just the name, or should the urn say "In Loving Memory" first? What about the dates? Just numbers, or should the months be spelled out? Should there be a memorial quote or epitaph? What one short phrase could possibly sum up a person's life?

Ultimately, these decisions come down to the personal preferences of the family. But if you would like some guidance on the standard formats commonly used for urn inscriptions, or ideas for meaningful quotes, poems, and Bible verses, here is our guide to cremation urn inscriptions.

Inscription Formats

Standard urn inscription format

In Loving Memory
John Doe
January 1, 1943 – December 31, 1999

Other first lines

In Loving Memory Of

In Memorium

In Remembrance

In Fondest Memory Of

In Treasured Memory Of

In Honored Memory Of

In Cherished Memory Of

Happy Memories Of

Other epitaph date formats

1/1/43 – 12/31/99

1/1/1943 – 12/31/1999

Jan. 1, 1943 – Dec. 31, 1999

1943 – 1999

Additional lines format

Often a short epitaph, 2-15 words in length, will be engraved below the dates. See below for list of short epitaphs. The format would then look like this:

In Loving Memory
Jane Doe
January 1, 1943 – December 31, 1999
Faithful Wife, Loving Mother

Including a middle name

John D. Doe

John David Doe

Including a nickname

John “Jack” Doe

Urn Inscription Epitaph Quotes

Bible verses for epitaph

Choosing a select few word to represent and memorialize the life of a loved one is a daunting task. When putting an inscription on an urn, or an epitaph on a headstone, the important features to look for in a quote are significance, brevity, and relevance.

If you would like to honor the faith of a loved one by inscribing a Scripture verse on the urn or headstone, the significance of the quotation is already inherent. After all, the Bible is the Word of God, and what could be more significant than the very breath of God?

As for brevity, below we have gathered a selection of brief and fitting Scripture verses for an epitaph. These verses are listed in the English Standard Version of the Bible. These Bible verses will fit on most cremation urns and memorial headstones in a readable font size. If the verse sounds familiar but not quite the way you remember it, it may be that you have heard the verse before in the King James Version or some other translation.

The last feature that should be considered for a epitaph inscription is relevance to the individual’s life and faith. Only you and those closest to the deceased can determine this, so peruse these Scriptures with an eye toward the verse’s relevance to your loved one.

Scriptures are listed below in the order that they appear in the Bible.

Popular Bible verses

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.
Psalm 40:4

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

The Lord is near to all who call on him.
Psalm 145:18

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end.
Lamentations 3:22

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:8

…the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Well done, good and faithful servant.
Matthew 25:21

Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master.
Matthew 25:21

Not my will, but yours, be done
Luke 22:42

Whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
John 3:15

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.
John 5:24

He…has passed from death to life.
John 5:24

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
John 11:25

I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
John 14:6

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.
Acts 16:31

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.
Romans 8:28

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Romans 10:13

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
II Corinthians 5:17

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
Galatians 2:20

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
Ephesians 2:8

To live is Christ, and to die is gain.
-Philippians 1:21

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
I John 4:16

God is love.
I John 4:16

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10

Related: The Best Bible Verses for Funerals


Poems for epitaph

Poetry has long served as a means for expressing thoughts and emotions concerning life, death, love, and loss. A quote from a poem can be perfectly suited for honoring your loved one's life, while at the same time expressing your sorrow in their passing.

For inscriptions on headstones, tombstones, or cremation urns, keep in mind the surface area available when choosing or composing the epitaph, as space is usually limited. Sometimes just the first line can be engraved, or, with some of our urns, an inscription with name and dates can go on the front and a longer poem can be etched on the top or back. 

Below are many favorite short epitaph poems for use as an inscription on an urn or a headstone.

Short epitaph poems

Not Forgotten

You are not forgotten, loved one
Nor will you ever be
As long as life and memory last
We will remember thee


A Lovely Lane

Memory is a lovely lane,
Where hearts are ever true,
A lane I so often travel down,
Because it leads to you.


Beloved By All

His charming ways and smiling face,
Are a pleasure to recall,
He had a kindly word for each,
And died beloved by all.


A Silent Thought

A silent thought, a secret tear,
Keeps his memory ever dear.
Time eases the edge of grief,
Memory turns back every leaf.


Thy Presence, My Light

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.


We Shall Meet at Last

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.


Still Loved & Missed

Though absent you are very near
Still loved, still missed, and very dear


Death Cannot Sever

There is a link death cannot sever,
Love and remembrance last forever


Remembered Always

Remembered always with love sincere
Memories keep him ever near


You Live On

You still live on in the hearts and minds
Of the loving family you left behind


Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee

Short epitaphs for urn inscription

Loving Father, Husband, Brother, and Friend

Loving Mother, Wife, Sister, and Friend

Faithful and Loving Husband

Faithful and Loving Wife

Sadly Missed, Lovingly Remembered

Forever Remembered, Forever Missed

Forever In Our Hearts

At Rest

At Peace

All Will Be Well

Though Gone From Sight To Memory Dear

Until We Meet Again

Safe At Last the Harbour Past

Forever In Our Thoughts

Rest In Peace

May He Rest In Peace

May She Rest In Peace

We Love You Always

He Loved and Was Loved

She Loved and Was Loved

Much Loved

Peace At Last

Short epitaphs for urn inscription - Christian / religious

Safe In the Arms of Jesus

Asleep In Jesus

He, Being Dead, Yet Speaketh (Hebrews 11:4)

Absent From the Body, Present With the Lord

I Know My Redeemer Lives

I Will Glory in My Redeemer

In the Cross of Christ I Glory

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Blessed Are the Dead That Die In the Lord

In His Keeping

In God’s Hand

In God’s Care

Find more inspiration for inscriptions here:

Ready to look for a beautiful cremation urn? See the 12 most beloved urns that have stood the test of time.