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What is the Difference Between a Grave Marker and a Headstone?

Memorializing and paying a befitting tribute to a family member or loved one after they die is a significant decision that requires patience and proper planning. Several memorial options are available, depending on your budget, inscriptions, design, size, material, and how you wish to memorialize your loved one. Nevertheless, there is a choice that will fit if you know the available options.

Not every person knows how to buy the appropriate cemetery stone; it is good to consult with memorial specialists to choose the best quality gravestone. Below are the two most common memorial options:


A headstone is among the most common memorial options. They are intended to identify the buried person or couple. They are typically made of granite and, in some cases, bronze. These memorial stones are upright, permitting the headstone’s information to easily be read when passing by.

Tombstones usually display the deceased’s name, birth and death dates, and in some cases, an epitaph. Moreover, they can include a customized design based on the available space. 

Headstones vary in colors, including black, pink, brown, and gray, to name a few. It is vital to go for a color that relates to the diseased.

There are several options available when it comes to styles and shapes for tombstones as well including rectangles and also increasingly elaborate sculptures. 

Grave Markers

A grave marker is usually made of bronze, granite, or both. It is generally flat, smaller, and less expensive than the upright memorial alternatives. These grave markers can either be placed on a foundation above the ground or flush with the ground, and you can only read while standing over them. They are primarily used for identifying the dead.

Grave Marker and Headstone Differences

What is the difference between headstone and grave marker?

There are some differences between headstones and grave markers. A headstone, also referred to as a gravestone, is an erect monument normally made of granite. However, a grave marker has a flat design. Grave markers are as simple as plaques attached to a stake to mark the grave and may include a bronze plaque. 

Below are some common types of grave markers: 

  • Niche Grave Markers: If you decide to bury a loved one in a columbarium, you can opt to add a niche marker. This option signify which niche is for which person, enabling easy access to the deceased’s remains by their loved ones. 
  • Military Grave Marker: Veterans typically receive special grave markers to represent their service. These markers are generally upright tombstones or headstones and are normally provided by the government.
  • Slant Upright Grave Marker: These memorial options are tombstones with inclined fronts. The slanting front makes reading the inscriptions easy. 
  • Etched Grave Portrait Marker: These markers are beveled or flat with an etched portrait of the diseased on their surface. 
  • Flat Grave Markers: These options are the most affordable since they are either flush to the ground or about three inches thick.