Follow Proper Monogram Etiquette for a Touch of Tradition in Projects

Monogramming adds a personal detail to any project: piped icing on cake designs, embroidered stitches on home decor, stamped initials on stationary, even custom details on quilt or sewing projects. And these days, you can pretty much design your monograms however you want. But if you want to keep things more traditional, there are a few monogram etiquette rules to consider following.

Single-Letter Monograms

Photo by Alison Caporimo

Traditionally, single-letter monograms like in the bookmark above represent the surname (aka last name). That goes for both men and women. But you can also monogram the first letter of a first name — this is particularly common among unmarried women.

Three-Letter Monograms

Three-letter Victorian monograms is what you’re probably most familiar with. The letter arrangement depends on marital status and letter sizes within the monogram.

Same Size Letters

Single men and women use the first letters of their first, middle and last name, in that order.

Large Surname Letter in the Middle

Photo by Jodie Rackley

Single men and women use the first letters of their first, last and middle names, in that order. The surname is always centered and in a larger font, as in the pajamas above.

For married women, it’s tradition to use her married name initial as the middle initial in three-letter monograms, with her first initial on the left and maiden name initial on the right. Married men or women could also use their first, married and middle name initials, in that order.

Single men and women use the first letters of their first, last and middle names, in that order. The surname is always centered and in a larger font, as in the pajamas above.

For married women, it’s tradition to use her married name initial as the middle initial in three-letter monograms, with her first initial on the left and maiden name initial on the right. Married men or women could also use their first, married and middle name initials, in that order.

Monograms for Couples

For married couples, the surname initial goes in the middle and the individuals’ first initials go on either side. This style is often used on linens, glasses and tableware. Traditionally, the husband’s name goes first (on the left), and the wife’s is on the end (as in “Mr. and Mrs.”). But there are those who switch the placement and put the wife’s name first (as in “ladies first”).

Same-sex partners can follow any of the rules above. If both are keeping their last names, both first initials of the partners’ last names are used together as the surname.

Monograms for Children

Rules for creating monograms for children are the same as those for unmarried adults.

Choosing Fonts for Monograms

When selecting a font for your monogram, be mindful of how it will be used. While a highly decorative script may look just fine as a single letter, it could be extremely difficult to read when used in traditional three-letter monograms. Pick your fonts wisely before you begin your work — and don’t forget to match it to the recipient’s personality!

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