Planning a Funeral, Resources

Printing Your Funeral Programs

Here is a comprehensive guide to printing your Funeral Programs either with a local, professional printer, or totally DIY on a home office printer.

Printing Your Funeral Programs – DIY Vs Professional Printing (Pros and Cons)

Once your funeral programs are ready to print, you have two options for getting these printed. You can either take the digital file along to a local printer and have them print, trim and fold as many copies as you need, OR you can take the DIY approach and print the file at home using a home printer. This article is here to act as your guide – to talk you through all the pros and cons of each option, so you know what’s going to be the best solution for you.


DIY Printing



  • You are in complete control.
  • It can be more cost-effective if you are printing a small amount (say 50 or less).
  • You can easily print extra copies if you need them.
  • You can print right before the service to allow for last-minute changes.
  • The quality of a home printout is lower than professional printing.
  • You will need to do all the trimming and folding yourself.
  • If you are printing a large amount of full-colour copies (more than 50) the cost of ink and paper can be expensive.
  • Home printers are notorious for paper jams and running out of ink.
  • You are restricted by the type and size of paper that your printer can handle.

If you choose to DIY, here’s how to get the best results…

Making sure things line up:  The thing that makes DIY printing tricky is that funeral programs tend to be double-sided. So you need to make sure that what you print on one side, nicely lines up with the other once you’ve folded it. If your program design has images and colors that go right to the edge of the paper, then you will need to have what is called a ‘bleed’. Bleed is a printing term that refers to ink that goes beyond the edge of the sheet before trimming. In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. If you have a generous bleed, this gives you a small margin of error in terms of ensuring one side lines up with the other. Do one or two test prints to make sure that everything lines up before printing the full amount.

Choosing a nice paper: Paper has three main qualities, weight (thickness), color and finish (e.g. matte, satin, gloss etc). N.b You may be restricted by what kind of paper your printer will allow, so always check the manual first to see what they recommend. Choosing the wrong kind of paper can result in paper jams and ink smudges among other things, so it’s best to follow the instructions in the manual.

Weight: Paper gets more expensive the heavier it gets, so you can keep that in mind when selecting. We recommend you go for the heaviest paperweight your budget (and printer manual) printer will allow, ideally not less than 40lb (150gsm).

Colour: If your program design has a lot of color images, it’s best to select a bright white color for your paper stock. This enables the color inks to look their best. If your program is black and white, you could go for a subtle cream, it really depends on your taste.

Finish: The standard coated paper options are: Gloss, Satin, and Matte, they are fairly self-explanatory, Gloss being most shiny, and Matte being the least shiny. We feel that a matte finish is most effective for funeral programs, but again, it’s a matter of personal taste.


TIP: If you have the time, just buy one or two sheets of paper first and do a test print to make sure you are happy with the result before buying the full amount.


Construction: To get the best quality results, make sure you set aside lots of time for trimming and folding the programs. When you print on a home printer, you will need to trim off the edges of the paper so there isn’t a white border surrounding your program. For this you’ll need a steel ruler, a utility knife, and a cutting mat (or a guillotine would be perfect if you have one). With the folding, the heavier the card you have selected, the more important it will be to score the card before you fold it – you can see a video tutorial about this here.


TIP: Get some family members together and start a production line – one person printing, one trimming, one person scoring, and another folding.


Professional Printing



  • Get the highest quality finish.
  • It’s relatively stress-free.
  • The printer will have a wide variety of paper stocks and sizes for you to choose from.
  • The printer will take care of everything such as trimming and folding.
  • You can have the printer deliver the programs directly to the service location, so you can focus on other aspects of the service.
  • You are reliant on a 3rd party, so you need to make sure you allow the printer enough time to complete their work before the funeral service.
  • It can cost more than DIY but this depends on the number of copies and the paper quality you choose.

If you choose to go professional, here’s how to get the best results…

When you choose to print with a professional, the wonderful thing is that a good printer will be there to guide you through everything. So the most important thing is to pick a really great printer. If time allows it, we recommend visiting 3 or more print shops to get quotes and see who is available to print your programs within the timeframe available.

Get multiple quotes: There are a few things that the printer will need to know in order to give you a quote

  1. How many copies you need,
  2. What paper you would like to use (see section above ‘choosing nice paper’),
  3. When do you need them finished by (some printers may charge a rush delivery fee if you have a very tight timeframe), and
  4. Do you require delivery (if so where to).

Once you know these things, the printer can give you a quote, and if you have more than one to compare with, you can make a more informed decision on who to go with. Whilst cost is important, we recommend going for the printer that seems the most professional, helpful and caring as opposed to just the cheapest deal.

TIP: Ask your printer if they offer a ‘sympathy discount’. We’ve worked with printers in the past who have offered a discount out of sympathy, and if you don’t ask, you won’t know.

TIP: To keep costs down, make sure the file that you give to your printer is ‘print ready’. The printer will charge a setup fee if they have to do any work to the file to set it up ready for printing. 


So, what do we recommend?

Funeral Bulletin Funeral Programs are designed to fit easily on standard paper sizes to make at-home printing easy (and professional printing more cost-effective), but that said, we don’t really recommend taking the DIY route.
Here’s why –
  • Home printers produce lower quality prints
  • There are lots of potential technical issues e.g. printer runs out of ink, the printer gets a paper jam, front and back pages don’t align etc,
  • It may not be as cost-effective as you think – quality paper and ink can become very expensive, and
  • It’s more labor-intensive than you think to print, trim and fold 50+ programs neatly.
Overall it’s an added stress that you don’t need. Unless you have access to a really great printer and you have a super tech-savvy niece/nephew to take care of it all for you, we recommend saving yourself the headache and letting your local print shop take care of it for you. They have all the equipment, they know how to deal with technical issues quickly, and can offer you the best quality final product to honor your loved one.
Please leave your questions in the comments section below, we’ll be sure to respond to each and every comment, and do our best to help you out!