Engraving a Headstone and its Types – You Must Know [2023]

Engraving a headstone involves putting a design or text on a Headstone, also known as a gravestone or tombstone. As part of a memorial, this usually marks the final resting place of a deceased person.

It can include the deceased name, dates of birth and death, and a personalized message or design. 

It is a necessary part of the grieving process for many families and is often a way to honor and remember their loved ones. To understand it better, let’s go in-depth.

What is Gravestone Engraving?

Gravestone marking is the process of carving or etching text or images into the surface of a gravestone, which is a monument used to mark the burial place of a deceased person. The tombstone is typically made of granite, marble, or other durable material and placed at the head of the grave site.

Engraving’s purpose is to inscribe the name, dates of birth and death, and other personal information about the deceased, as well as meaningful quotes, symbols, or images.

Tombstone engravings allow loved ones to honor and remember the deceased lived in a permanent and meaningful way.

Types of Engraving a Headstone

Types of Engraving a Headstone
Types of Engraving a Headstone

There are various types of the monument marking techniques available.

Hand engravings: 

It is the most traditional method, where a skilled artisan uses hand tools such as chisels and hammers to carve the designs into the gravestone.


This method uses high-pressure air and sand to blast away the stone surface, creating a deep and lasting mark.

Laser engravings:

It is an advanced method that uses a laser beam to etch or engrave the designs into the gravestone.

To learn more, we recommend that you read our blog titled What is laser engraving and its types?

Subsurface engravings:

This method involves carving the designs into the back of the tombstone rather than the surface. The designs are then filled with colored resin to make them visible from the front.

The Step-By-Step Process for Headstone Marking:

Step 1 # Choose a tombstone design:

Select a tombstone design that reflects the personality and interests of the deceased.

Step 2 # Choose the marking technique:

Choose the marking technique that is appropriate for the scenario and stone type.

Step 3 # Create the design:

Create a detailed format plan or sketch of the tombstone, including the text, images, and layout.

Step 4 # Transfer the design to the stone:

Use a stencil or a tracing method to transfer the formatting onto the stone.

Step 5 # Begin to engrave:

Using the chosen technique, start to engrave the design into the stone. It may involve chiseling, sandblasting, laser engravings, or subsurface engravings.

Step 6 # Finish and polish:

Once the marking is complete, use a polisher to smoothen rough edges and give the gravestone a polished finish.

Step 7 # Install the Tombstone:

It is now time to install the headstone at the grave site according to the cemetery regulations.

Gravestone Engraving Designs

Many gravestones engraved or etched designs are available to honor the deceased. Some common design elements include:

Name and dates:

The most necessary element of a headstone is the name of the deceased and the dates of birth and death.


To inscribe on headstones, use short phrases or quotes that capture the essence of the deceased’s life or personality. These can be religious, philosophical, or simply reflective of the person’s character.


A headstone design can incorporate religious symbols such as crosses, angels, or other marks of the deceased’s beliefs or interests.


Some headstones feature a portrait of the deceased, either carved into the stone or inlaid with a photograph.


It is common for a monument to depict a beautiful or scenic landscape in tribute to the deceased’s love of nature and the world’s beauty.

Hobbies or interests: 

A monument can include the individual’s hobbies or interests to honor their achievements and passions.

Overall, the design of a monument should reflect the deceased’s character and spirit and provide a meaningful and lasting tribute to their life.

Difference Between Headstone Engraving and Etching

Headstone Engraving vs Etching
Difference Between Headstone Engraving and Etching

Gravestone engraved and etched markings are two different methods of adding text or imagery to a monument. Here is how they differ:

Engraving a Headstone:

Gravestone engravers involve carving the design into the stone surface using hand tools or a laser. The design is cut into stone, creating a permanent and highly-visible mark.

Etching a Headstone:

Monument etching involves using an acid or other chemical that etch the designs onto the stone surface. The design is not as deep or permanent as engraved designs, but they can still be quite visible.

According to the style and material of the monument, engraving and etching are both effective methods for creating a wide range of monument designs.

Engraving is generally more durable and long-lasting than etching but can also be more expensive and time-consuming. Etching is a faster and low-cost option, but it may not be as strong as engraver designs.

A detailed comparison of engraving and etching can be found in our blog title ” Difference between laser engraving, marking and etching in detail“.

Ultimately, the choice between the engraver and etcher process will depend on the individual needs and preferences of the person commissioning the gravestone.

Headstone Engraving Courses

There are various courses available that teach the skills and techniques involved in headstone engravings. Many institutions offer these courses, including community colleges, trade schools, and specialized training programs.

Some courses may concentrate solely on monument engravings, while others may include a study for stone carving or monument construction.

Courses in monument engravings may cover a range of topics, including:

    • The history and traditions of headstone engravings
    • The different materials and techniques used in tombstone engravings
    • How to organize and layout a tombstone etching
    • How to use tools and equipment for hand carving or laser engravings
    • Safety considerations when working with heavy stone materials

The business aspect of headstone engravings, including marketing and customer service:

    • Courses may teach in a classroom with hands-on experience in a workshop or studio setting.
    • Some programs may also be available online, with video lectures and interactive exercises.

It’s worth noting that headstone marking is a specialized field, and completing a course may not guarantee employment. However, it can provide a strong foundation of knowledge and skills that can be useful for those interested in pursuing a career in headstone engravings or related fields.


In conclusion, Engraving a headstone is a way to honor and remember the life of a deceased person by carving or etching text or images into the headstone surface. It is possible to engrave a headstone using several different techniques.

Headstone engravings and etchings are popular options for adding personalized designs to headstones, although engraved marking is generally more durable and long-lasting.

Overall, It is a way to honor and remember the life of a loved one in a permanent and meaningful way.

FAQs ( Frequently Asked Questions )

1: What is the cost of etching on a tombstone? 

It depends on the size, material, and complexity of the tombstone design, which determines the cost of etching on a tombstone. Prices can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars.

2. Give some popular engraving a headstone inscriptions for parents?

Here are some headstone inscriptions for MOM and DAD.

    • Together forever, loving parents
    • Gone but never forgotten, beloved parents
    • Forever in our hearts, Mom and Dad
    • Beloved MOM and DAD

3. What is the best font to use on engraving a headstone?

The font on a headstone should be simple and easy to read, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Avoid using decorative or cursive fonts, as they can be hard to read.

4. What is engraving a headstone equipment?

Headstone engraving equipment refers to the tools and machinery used to inscribe or carve designs or lettering onto headstones. It can include chisels, hammers, pneumatic engravers, lasers, or computerized engraver machines. The specific equipment used will depend on the material of the headstone and the desired designs.

5. How to start a Engraving a Headstone business?

To start an engraving business for headstones needs the equipment, training, and licenses or permits. Marketing and networking with funeral homes and monument dealers can also help to generate business.