Monogram etiquette

A gift accented with a monogram is among the most popular personalized presents you can give for someone—especially for weddings, bridal showers, or birthdays. Monograms also can be confusing.

Curious about monogram etiquette? Read on to learn the essentials to monogramming, including how to write them, whether it should be a personal monogram or a couple version, the different styles available, and cool suggestions on how to apply them to different products.

What is a monogram?

But first... what is a monogram?

A monogram is a typography design that contains a single letter or connects multiple letters. Traditionally, monograms were presented in a cursive font that flows. However, more recently monograms have started to appear in cool, bold, and graphic font designs.

Based on the owner’s preference, initials are often either standing alone or wrapped together by a border. Monograms themselves can be seen as artwork.

A monogram usually represents the following:

  • An initial, whether it be a person's first or last name
  • A couple's initials, including his and her first names wrapped around their last name
  • A family member’s name, typically consisting of one, two, or three initials—with three being the most popular form—for creating a more balanced composition

More important than the number of letters used in a monogram, however, is that the monogram itself tells a story. The meaning of monograms depends on what the letter (or letters) it contains capture.

This is what makes monogramed items great for any type of gift.

For example, as a bridal shower gift, one could present the bride to be with a monogramed gift featuring her current monogram. In addition, for after the wedding, one could include a monogramed gift with the bride’s new monogram.

In a similar vein, a three-initial monogram would make an excellent wedding or anniversary gift for the happy couple.

How to monogram

The order of letters in a monogram will depend on a couple of factors but can be categorized into two types: Personal monogram and couple monogram.

Personal monogram

A personal monogram consists of a combination of three initials: First, middle, and last names.

For a single letter monogram, people use either their first or last initial. The former is more modern, while the latter is more traditional.

Three-letter monograms use first, middle, and last names. The order of the letters usually depends on the design of the monogram and recipient’s taste. If people don't have a middle name, they can always use their second surname or stick to a two-initial monogram.

A woman's initials could change when she ties the knot. If this is the case and she chooses to take her husband's last name in place of her own, she can drop the middle name from the monogram and use her first and last name together with her husband's last name. 

It’s important to note that tradition isn't the only way to monogram, so remember there’s no right or wrong way to showcase your initials. What's great about monograms is that they give everyone a choice to reflect their true selves via their monogram.

Couple monogram

With a monogram for a couple, things can get a little tricky as there are quite a few options. After all, how the monogram appears is entirely up to the couple and how they want to represent their family with a monogram. However, since it’s a very popular monogram choice for gifts—especially during wedding season—it's important to have some guidelines to avoid monogramming faux pas.

A married couple who's chosen to share the last name has a variety of monogram options at their disposal. They can use their shared last initial for a single letter monogram, combine their two first initials into a two-letter monogram, or they can go for a three-letter one.

The formula for a three-letter married monogram is as follows: Her first name, their shared last name, his first name. This works for husband and wife, as well as same-sex couples who are sharing one last name. Depending on the font selected, three-letter monograms are extremely versatile.

If the newlyweds decide to share a hyphenated last name, a hyphen could also be used in the monogram.

Finally, when a couple has two different last names, a monogram can get complicated. In this instance, the three-letter monogram is off the table. Instead, a two-letter monogram works best. Here, combine each of the couple's last name initials. This is very popular with monograms that include props, such as ampersands and hearts, or on venue and bar signs.

Types of monograms

Most monograms can be divided into two main categories: Monograms where letters are all the same size, also known as block monograms, and monograms where the center initial is larger.

Block monograms are used only for personal monogramming. In this case, the initials are ordered like people's names: First initial, middle, then last.

Monograms with the center initial slightly bigger can be used both for personal and couple monograms. 

For personal monograms, the ordering is always first name, last name, and middle name. Old school etiquette claims this style of monogram is often used for personalizing women's items. It then states that the larger center initial style is almost always reserved for joint or couple monograms. With modern monograming, however, these old school rules are out the window.

Need a monogram or two to give as a gift or keep for yourself? We’ve got a variety of colorful cards and fun fonts right here just for you.

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