Monograming adds a personal detail to any item. But, what is proper monogram etiquette exactly? Which initial goes first? How do different size letters effect the order of the initials? What is appropriate for same-sex couples, opposite-sex couples or singles? We hope we can calm your nerves and guide you in the proper direction to suit your individual needs.
 

A LITTLE HISTORY

As the oldest form of identification in the world, monograms date back to as early as 350BC. They served many roles, from indicating social status, to serving as a signature for royals and artists, to being a form of currency in the barter system. The earliest known examples were used on coins. The Greek cities who issued the coins, often used the first two letters of the city's name. Monograms were also used to identify property and were typically ornate, which makes them desirable when adding monograms to elegant gifts even today.
 

SINGLE-LETTER TRADITIONAL MONOGRAMS

Single-letter monograms, traditionally, represent the last name for both men and unmarried women. Rules for creating monograms for children are the same as those for unmarried adults.
 
ANNE MARGARET SMITH
DAVID WESLEY BEGOR
 

Not feeling traditional?

When going modern a single-letter monogram is used for young unmarried women featuring the first letter of their first names.
 
ANNE MARGARET SMITH
JILL MARIE JONES
 

THE INFAMOUS THREE-LETTER MONOGRAMS

Traditional, three-letter Victorian monograms are the variety we use most often today. Letter arrangement depends on marital status and letter sizes within the monogram.

Single Men and Single Women

Single men and single women use the first initial of their first, middle and last name, in that order.
 
ANNE MARGARET SMITH
DAVID WESLEY BEGOR
 

Large surname letter in the middle

Single men and women would use the first initial of their first, last and middle names, in that order. The last name is always the centered, largest font.
 
ANNE MARGARET SMITH
DAVID WESLEY BEGOR
 

MARRIED THREE INITIAL MONOGRAM

Same-Sex Couples

For married same-sex couples who choose to use one last name, even hyphenated, the first initial of the first name on the left is up to the couple as to who would be first. Possibly setting a family tradition going forward with who is always on the left or right. The center initial will be the chosen last name initial. The same initials would be used on linens, glass and tableware.
 
ANNE AND JILL SMITH-JONES
DAVID AND DEREK BEGOR-LENINGTON
 

Opposite-Sex Couples

For married opposite-sex couples the bride’s first initial is on the left of the last name initial and the groom’s first initial is on the right, as in ladies first. (Often used on linens). A more traditional view is the groom’s first initial is first and the bride’s first initial is last. (Traditionally used on glass and tableware).
 
ANNE AND DAVID BEGOR LINENS
ANNE AND DAVID BEGOR  TABLEWARE
 

TWO INITIAL MONOGRAM

Different Last Names

For unmarried couples, and married couples who choose to keep their individual last names, both initials of each partners’ last names are used together as a 2-letter monogram.
 
ANNE SMITH AND JEREMY JONES
DAVID BEGOR AND DEREK LENINGTON
 

Use First Names

For all couples, married or unmarried, you may want to keep it simple and use the initials of each partners’ first names together as a 2-letter monogram.
 
ANNE SMITH AND JEREMY JONES
DAVID BEGOR AND DEREK LENINGTON
 

MARRIED PERSONS INDIVIDUAL MONOGRAMS

Women

It is tradition for the woman to use her maiden name initial as the middle initial in three-letter monograms. Otherwise, she would use her first name initial, married name initial, and middle name initial.
 
ANNE MARGARET SMITH MAIDEN NAME
ANNE MARGARET JONES MARRIED LAST NAME
 

Men

It is tradition for the man to use his last name initial as the middle initial in three-letter monograms. Otherwise for new-tradition men, he would use his first name initial, married name initial, and middle name initial.
 
DAVID WESLEY BEGOR LAST NAME
DAVID WESLEY LENINGTON MARRIED LAST NAME
 
While a highly decorative script font may look just fine on it’s own, it could be extremely difficult to read when used in traditional three-letter monograms.
 
Also note that although these are the more “traditional monogram rules,” there are no right and wrong ways to create monograms. Most of the time, it depends on the person receiving the gift. Focus on fitting the design to their personality, and you won’t go wrong!