Etiquette for Monogramming

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Monogramming has its own etiquette, which is a good thing because the "rules" leave the guesswork out. Receiving a monogrammed gift can make the person feel distinguished and special. Whether you are giving a gift of monogrammed towels and bathrobes to newlyweds or a sweater to your boss who owns the country club, it's important to follow the rules of monogramming because...well, that's just how it's done. It will reflect better on you and the proud recipients.

1 Monogramming for an Individual

Three letter monograms

When monogramming for an individual, you may choose to use either the first initial, last initial, or all three initials. While this is largely a matter of personal preference, there is a tendency to use only the first initial when monogramming personal items for a woman and all three initials when monogramming personal items for a man.

If you are doing a three-letter monogram with all three letters the same size, the initials should go in the same order as the name. William Franklin Smith would be monogrammed WFS. This is a common method for men's items.

If you are doing a three letter monogram with the middle letter larger than the other two, then the middle letter should be the initial of the last name. William Franklin Smith would be monogrammed WSF with the "S" slightly larger.

2 Monogramming for a Couple

Three letter monogram for a couple

When monogramming for a couple, it is always a good idea to ask the recipients how they would like their monogram to appear. As a rule of thumb, place the woman's first initial, followed by the couple's last initial slightly larger, followed by the man's first initial (the same size as the woman's first initial). Betty and Frank Jones would be monogrammed BJF with the "J" slightly larger.

When in doubt, it is also acceptable to do a single letter monogram using the first letter of the couple's last name.

3 Special Circumstances

For a person with no middle initial, use a two letter monogram with both letters the same size. Frank Smith would be monogrammed FS.

For a person with two middle names, use a four letter monogram with all four letters the same size. Betty Jo Elizabeth Martin would be monogrammed BJEM.

For last names with an apostrophe or "Mc" use the first letter of the last name. For O'Reilly, use "O" in the monogram or for McDonald, use "M."

For a couple who has combined their last names to form one hyphenated last name, place the woman's first initial followed by the first letter of both last names slightly larger, and the man's first initial the same size as the woman's first initial.

Barbara Thompson has a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology from Clayton State University and more than 10 years experience developing print and web-based training materials for various industries. For the last seven years, Barbara has worked in a public university system designing online college courses and developing training materials for faculty and students.