When using a renowned poet's quote on a gravestone does one write the quote in italics and also use quotation marks around the quote?

  • 3
    Italics can be a substitute for quotation marks. Choose the one or the other.
    – Tim
    Apr 22, 2015 at 14:42
  • I wonder if the folks who make gravestones will do italics. Straight lines are probably easier for etching.
    – Barmar
    Apr 22, 2015 at 21:42
  • 4
    You can get a great variety of fonts, as well as graphics. I suspect many headstone makers have computerized cutters. But as a practical consideration I wouldn't suggest using quote marks, as they might be cut very thin and shallow, and not "last" as well as the rest of the text, as the stone wears down over decades. Apr 23, 2015 at 6:17

1 Answer 1


Gravestones are rather like headlines - brevity is preferred. So a quote from a poet would likely be in the same font as any other text, and probably not attributed. After all, an epitaph is not a thesis dissertation, nor is it a newspaper column.

Put it another way - if a poet is quoted but neither identified as a quote nor properly attributed, who gets sued for plagiarism?

  • 1
    If you have a favorite quote, you might want to acknowledge the author on your epitaph, rather than make it seem as if it's your own.
    – Barmar
    Apr 22, 2015 at 21:40
  • Absolutely true, but it's optional, particularly in the case of "a renowned poet's quote". Again, the nature of epitaphs should be considered. Frankly, I don't know of many people who put original poetry on their gravestones, so I doubt many viewers would misconstrue a line of poetry as being claimed to be original. Apr 22, 2015 at 21:51
  • 2
    Gravestones are rather like headlines? Brevity is preferred? You need to go out to graveyards more. The only thing we can possibly say with any confidence is this: there are no universal style guides for gravestones. None whatsoever. Absolutely everybody does absolutely whatever they please. And I don't get to tell you what fonts to use on yours.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jun 22, 2015 at 11:03
  • And the legal postscriptum, while funny, is inaccurate as well. Just because someone died, doesn't mean their debts and obligations magically pass away as well. They very much persist. That's called inheritance. Besides, more often than not gravestones are not erected by the person in the grave. So we don't even have to drag inheritance into this, we can just directly sue the ones directly responsible for the plagiarism.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jun 22, 2015 at 11:08

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