A complete guide to Monograms!
Updated: Mar 1
A classic monogram gift is among the most popular personalized gifts you can get for someone, especially for weddings, bridal showers, or birthdays. Here we'll show you the essentials to monogramming: how to write them, whether it a personal monogram or a couple one, the different styles available, and cool suggestions on how to apply them to different products.
But first... what's a monogram?
A monogram is a typography design that connects letters, traditionally in a flowy, cursive font but more recently also in cool bold and graphic font designs. Initials are often interlinked or wrapped together by a border and they usually come together to be a calligraphy artwork by themselves.
The monogram letters usually represent initials, this could be a person's initials - often first, middle and last name - couple's initials - his & her first name, last name - or even family member initials like brothers and sisters. They typically have 1, 2, or 3 initials, with 3 being the most popular form, for creating a much more balanced artwork composition.
But most important a monogram tells a story. The meaning of monograms depends on what initials they capture, this makes them great for any type of gift. For example, for a wedding gift, a 3 initial monogram could celebrate the new family engagement by representing the bride and groom's first names and the family name. On the other hand, the same 3 initial monograms would make a perfect gift for a mum on Mother's Day with the initials of her 3 kids.
How to monogram
The order in which letters go on a monogram can depend on a couple of factors, but roughly they can be categorized into 2 types: personal monogram and couples monogram.
A personal monogram consists of a combination of three initials: first, middle, and last names. For a single letter monogram, it's very easy, people use their first or last initial–the former is more modern, the latter 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 the taste of the customer of course!). If people don't have a middle name, they can always use their second surname (mostly used in Hispanic culture) or stick to a 2 initial monogram.
A woman's initials could change when she ties the knot. If this is the case and they take their husband's last name in place of their own, they can drop the middle name from the monogram and just use her first and last name together with her husband's last name.
But tradition isn't the only way, so remember there is no right or wrong way to monogram your initials, it is just up to each one's personal preference. What's good is to give your customers enough options so they can reflect themselves in your monograms.
Things can get a little trickier with couples monograms since there are quite a lot of options. But again, it is entirely up to the couple how they want to represent their family with a monogram. However, since it is 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 lots of options at their disposal. They can use their shared last initial for a single letter monogram, combine their two first initials into a 2 letter monogram, or they can go for a 3 letter one. The formula for a 3 letter married monogram is as follows: first, last, first. This works for husband and wife, as well as same-sex couples who are sharing one last name. As you've seen 3 letter monograms are super 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, it gets a little more tricky. The 3 letter monogram is off the table, and instead, a 2 letter monogram will work best, combining each of the couple's last name initials. This is very popular with monograms that include props, such as ampersands, plus signs, bars, etc.
Types of Monograms
Most monograms can be divided into two main categories: monograms where letters are all the same size - block monogram - and monograms where the center initial is larger.
Block monograms are only used for personal monogramming. In this case, the initials are ordered like people's names: first, middle and last.
Monograms with the center initial slightly bigger can be used both for personal or couples monograms. For personal monograms, the ordering is always first name, last name, and middle name. This style of monogram is often used for personalizing women's items, most menu items use the more straightforward block style. One thing's for sure, the larger center initial style is almost always used for joint or couple monograms.
If you are looking for resources to create your own monogram design, you can find a great number of monogram fonts and ornaments on this lovely post by Damask Love.
What and How to monogram
You can add initials to just about anything, from robes and jewelry to glassware. But that doesn't mean you should add them to everything. A little personalization can go a long way.
Depending on what you are monogramming, what style of monogram you can choose. Traditional monograms with interlocking fonts and curly scripts, go great with robes, linen, and kitchenware. Modern monograms, with a more contemporary look, work great with statement jewelry, tech accessories like phone cases and notebook sleeves, pouches and other fashion accessories.
The same thing goes with how to apply the monogram. Depending on the surface, what technique to use. Most robes and linen use embroidered monograms, while glassware and kitchenware rely on engraving techniques. Printing can also go a long way, used for stationary but also printed apparel, accessories, and sublimated home décor. When monogramming jewelry, it depends on the statement the piece makes, but usually, engraving, hand stamping, and laser cutting are the most used methods for imprinting initials into timeless jewelry.
Here are some examples of beautiful and really cool monograms that will certainly inspire you to add some monogramming magic to your store.
Gorgeous circle monogram on the fireworks tray by Dabney Lee.
A modern single letter monogram printed on a shower curtain from The Custom Studio.
A perfect example of the block monogram on a leather charger roll up by Mark & Graham.
A couples monogram combined with the family's last name, engraved on a cutting board by Monogram Online.
An all time classic, the monogrammed signet ring by Moon & Lola.
A modern take on the block monogram, embroidered in gold on an iPhone leather wrap by Kate Spade.
Want to let customers monogram their own gifts online? We can help you. Join Customily today and learn how to easily apply monograms to any product on your store with our 9-day free trial.