How to Write a Tribute?

how to write a tribute

What is a Tribute?

Saying or doing anything in admiration of; or to show regard and respect for a person, you pay tributes. A tribute is a clear indication of the abilities and achievements of an individual. For instance, you pay tribute to soldiers for protecting your country from attack of enemies. You pay tribute to Shakespeare for his genius.

Tributes can be given at various occasions but more often, they are given at funerals. It is a misconception that tributes are meant to share the characteristics, experiences and contributions of the deceased. In fact, tributes are fairly acceptable if the subject is a living person.

A tribute is a speech given about the person, the speaker respects. It can also be in the form of a thank you note for what the person has done in the past for the speaker.

Definition of a Tribute

We are familiar with the word ‘tribute’ since school days; but do we really know the meaning which underlines the concept?

A tribute can be defined as,

“A tribute is something that you do, say, or build to show that you respect and admire someone or something”.


“It is a gift, declaration or other acknowledgement of gratitude, respect or admiration”.


“A tribute is an evidence attesting to some praiseworthy quality or characteristic”.

Types of Tributes

Tributes are normally written for the following relations and events:

  • Tribute for a dead father
  • Tribute for a pastor and wife for anniversary
  • Tribute for a mother
  • Tribute for a friend
  • Tribute for a sister
  • Tribute for a brother
  • Tribute for a women
  • Funeral tributes
  • Personal tribute

Four Points You Need to Ponder Before Writing a Tribute

Before you begin to write a tribute, you must take some time out and think over the following four areas. Once you have the answers, the process of tribute writing becomes simplified.

  • How did you come close to the deceased?
  • What do you think people admire about the relationship which you and the deceased shared?
  • What are the things you will miss most about him or her?
  • Are there any humorous or emotional events that represent your love for him or her?

Instructions for Writing a Tribute

Follow the steps mentioned below to learn what is required and not required in a tribute.

Express Your Relation and Personal Attachment with the Deceased

Start off by describing how you are related to the deceased. If the deceased is your spouse or a close friend, mention how and when you two met.

Elaborate on the Traits of the Deceased

Describe the traits of the deceased which have impressed you the most and how do you think his qualities have an impact on your life. You can also mention how this person has changed your life and helped you in becoming the person you are today. Support this point by giving examples.

Mention Achievements of the Deceased

Give an account of the achievements of the person. List down all the good things he or she has done in life and how each of these actions had benefitted others. For instance, looking after orphans, taking care of the disabled, providing shelter to the homeless, paying tuition fee etc.  You can also talk about intangible achievements, if any.

Share Memories and Personal Experiences

Share your memories with the deceased by telling a story. The story can either be humorous or touching; depending on what you think will involve the audience. Make sure that whatever you share should not be offensive.

Highlight why you think a particular event or incident will always be important to you. For instance, you can talk about the college memories, how the deceased guided you in a situation, a driving experience, laughing afternoons, the little things he or she has done for your benefit etc.

Additional Tips for Writing a Tribute

Remain Positive

Be honest and focus only on the positive characteristics.

Use Humor

Make use of humor if it sets on the personality of the deceased.

Keep a Tab on Timing

Make sure that your speech does not exceed ten to fifteen minutes; the audience may lose interest. If you think that you might choke up while talking about the emotional events, take a moment to compose yourself or have a back up person to step in.

Be Original

Remember that you don’t have to be a pro writer or speaker for paying tribute. Use natural and simple phrases to express your love and respect for the person.

Get Personal

Gather information and stories about the deceased from other closed ones too.

Examples of Tributes

The following examples will give you a good idea of what needs to be expressed in a tribute.

Sample Tribute 1

Most of what Richard had to say included how he was able to perceive my personality in my writing style and how I could tie personal characteristics into the themes to deepen my plots.

Sample Tribute 2

I admire the way you describe things with such clarity, style and attention to detail. Though our friendship would come later, you were a super role model for me in those good old Baker Lovick days – the epitome of professionalism tiptoeing through agency politics with such aplomb .I often wondered if I would ever be so skilled and respected. All I know is that I’m still playing catch up!

Sample Tribute 3

Whenever I think about Jane, I also think about Fireside Al and The Story of the Little Match Girl (we both love the CBC), Greece (your favourite holiday destination) and the fact that she had generously and graciously hosted several TGIFs when I came back to Calgary over the years – it’s fun to sit on her back deck and catch up with the gang over too much wine and too much food.

Sources for Inspiration and Help

  • A Labour of Love: How to Write a Eulogy” by Garry Schaeffer
  • “The Book of Eulogies: A Collection of Memorial Tributes, Poetry, Essays, and Letters of Condolence” by Phyllis Theroux (editor)
  • “How to Write and Deliver a Loving Eulogy” by Leo Seguin
  • “Final Celebrations: A Guide for Personal and Family Funeral Planning” by Kathleen Sublette and Martin Flagg
  • “In Memoriam: A Practical Guide to Planning a Memorial Service” by Amanda Bennett and Terence B. Foley
  • “My Deepest Sympathies: Meaningful Sentiments for Condolence Notes and Conversations, Plus a Guide to Eulogies” by Florence Isaacs
  • “Remembering Well: Rituals for Celebrating Life and Mourning Death” by Sarah York
  • “Readings for Remembrance: A Collection for Funerals and Memorial Services” by Eleanor C. Munro