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Letter Arrangement

Arrangement of Letters for Monograms

The most conventional monogram arrangement consists of three letters: A larger central letter, flanked by two smaller letters, one on each side. One and two letter monograms also are traditional.

It is typical that the center letter is the surname or last name, with the letter on the left representing the first name or Christian name, and the letter on the right representing the middle name.

This arrangement makes sense for an individual with three initials available. Typically, each member of the household sharing the same surname would have their own monogram. However, there are other variations possible.

A married couple might choose to blend their individual initials into a common monogram - for example, John R. Smith, who marries Katherine L. Jones, might create the common monogram JSK. This example might be equally acceptable as KSJ in contemporary life, with the woman's initial appearing first, but could cause confusion, since in this example the J on the right is also the woman's unmarried surname. It is always a good idea for the couple to discuss this arrangement beforehand.

Individuals with more than three initials, or hyphenated or blended surnames, create interesting challenges for creating monogram arrangements.

Feedback or Questions about "Letter Arrangement" (18)

If you are doing a two letter monogram for someone with a name like Jane Smith-Jones, how would you format the monogram. I think it should be JS, but I think it could be JJ.

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Please see our Rules of Monogramming for additional information.

--Posted by: Anne at May 1, 2006 09:47 AM

Can someone please tell me how big your lettering should be on a Handkerchief.

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

This is a matter of fashion and personal preference. The answer also depends to some extent on whether the handkerchief is for a man or a woman. Traditionally, monograms on men's handkerchiefs have been small (less than 1" tall) while those on women's handkerchiefs are often larger.

--Posted by: B K at November 29, 2005 04:56 PM

How do you monogram a name like Keith Allen O'Keefe? I am at a loss as to how to construct the monogram because of the apostrophe? Thank you for your assistance.

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

In our Rules of Monogramming survey, a large majority of those who responded voted for using only part of the last initial - in this case the O.

Go to Rules of Monogramming.

As with many monogramming issues, there is more than one answer. If the individual wants to use the apostrophe that is also an accepable solution.

--Posted by: Pat Fix at November 29, 2005 07:50 AM

Do you have a way to audition a collection of three letters to see how/if they will fit together when grouped?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

At some point in the future we hope to have an online system to do what you suggest - the technology necessary is more complicated than it appears.

In the meantime we can make a low-tech suggestion. Individual pages in our Catalogue can be downloaded and printed. If you print out the page for the style you are interested in and cut out the appropriate letters you can approximate letter placement.

--Posted by: Bee Meister at October 26, 2005 04:42 PM

I am ordering monogrammed towels for my cousin and her new husband. Whose monogram do I use? The lady of the house or the man of the house? Should I just do a seperate set for each one?
Thanks in advance! Nancy Sumner

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

A shared bathroom and a blended family monogram are both fairly recent historical developments, so a separate set of monogrammed towels for each would not be incorrect. For information on blended monograms for married couples please see our Rules of Monogramming page.

--Posted by: Nancy Sumner at October 8, 2005 09:20 PM

What is the proper placement of letters for a country club? Does the name of the club initial go in the middle?

Thank you.

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

What you are describing is really a logo rather than a personal monogram. Many country clubs have an existing logo, but in the event that this one doesn't the placement of letters would have more to do with aesthetics than with monogramming conventions.

Madison Country Club, for example, would naturally feature the M, placed in the center, and flanked by two smaller-scaled C initials. Following the monogramming convention the C would be the last initial (Club) - this solution doesn't seem as appropriate.

--Posted by: Donna Stayer at September 30, 2005 08:43 AM

What is a common size monogram for a bath towel? and when monogramming a set of towels, should it be the same on the hand towel and the wash cloth?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

There is no common size for a monogram on towels - the size has to do with personal preference. Large monograms - 6" tall or more - seem to be back in fashion lately. One limiting factor is your hoop size. From that perspective many monograms are 4" tall or smaller.

It is fairly common to reduce the size of the monogram on the hand towels - the concept being that the towel is smaller so the monogram should be also. This same concept might be extended to the wash cloth, but since it has a different purpose, and is typically used wet, many monogrammers don't put a monogram on the wash cloth at all.

--Posted by: Dorie Hellickson at September 25, 2005 12:40 AM

Is the order of letters for monogramming for men different than for women?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Since most of the monograms that are embroidered on dress shirt cuffs are for men, you might keep in mind that there is often a different convention used for cuffs, based on letter height. If the letters are all the same height, then the letter order is as you would write your name - e.g. JSN would be used for John Stuart Norton.

There is no difference in letter order based on gender.

--Posted by: Jennifer Kennedy at September 11, 2005 09:25 PM

Is there any such rule that specifies in which direction a monogram has to be placed when monogramming the cuff on a pillow case?left to right or right to left?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Monograms are always read left to right.

--Posted by: cathy at August 5, 2005 04:15 PM

I am monogramming something for my nephew. He has 2 middle names and the parents want both in the monogram. I thought about having the first name initial then the larger last name initial but do I put the first initial of both middle names after that? I didn't know if would look funny.

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

What you are describing doesn't fit any of the normal three-letter monogram conventions, which may be an opportunity for a creative solution. You could consider a letter arrangement that puts one middle name initial above the other one for example. Your embroidery software program should allow you to play with placement and letter size until you and your relatives come up with a solution that you like.

--Posted by: Vicki at July 11, 2005 03:10 PM

Are there monogram guidelines where a couple is getting married but the bride is not taking on the husbands last name? Would it be inappropriate in that case to have his last initial in the center?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

We're not aware of a good modern rule on this subject, but it does seem incorrect to use the convention that's normally applied to a couple who both have the same last name to this situation. A creative solution seems in order - for instance, creating a monogram out of just two letters (each of their last initials) and using both initials in the same size.

--Posted by: Shelley Bazinet at May 6, 2005 11:48 AM

I am doing a monogram for my cousin who's name is Andrew Martin III. I am thrown off by the third in his name. Should this be included or not? He has no middle name. Thank you.

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

This is a situation that really isn't covered under traditional monogram etiquette, since it rarely comes up.The obvious suggestion would be to eliminate the "III", but there may be a more creative solution - for instance, three thin columns of satin stitch that are the same height as the largest initial. A creative solution seems called for if you are goung to include that part.

--Posted by: Laura at April 20, 2005 03:52 PM

How do you include a Jr in the monogram? It is for a son and they want the Junior included?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

There is no traditional rule or guideline for including Jr in a monogram. That's not to say that it shouldn't be done - just that how to include it becomes a design issue for you and/or the person you are monogramming for to work out. It would make sense for the Jr to be smaller than the rest, but placement would be a matter of finding a creative solution.

--Posted by: Claire at March 23, 2005 12:29 PM

My daughter would like a monogram put on the cathedral veil she is wearing for her wedding. Her initials are afn and her husband-to-be is jsv. She is wondering if she could use her first initial (a) on the left hand side, his first initial (j) on the right hand side, with the V in the middle. Or should it be jVa? Any opinions /advice.

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Placing the V in the center, somewhat larger than the flanking letters, is common for this situation. As for whether the woman's initial goes on the left or right - either on is acceptable. In our Rules of Monogramming survey we posed this question and placing the man's initial on the left had nearly twice of votes as the opposite solution.

--Posted by: debi at March 2, 2005 06:28 PM


Do your Monogram sets work with the old embroidery machines? I have a Brother PE-100 Pacesetter. I cannot digitize etc. on my machine. I would not want to embroider one letter at a time. I would only be interested if it would allow me to stitch out all 3 letters of varying sizes at one time. My machine only uses a small hoop (4"x4").

Thank you,

Lisa Vetowich

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Newer machines have direct connections to your computer (usb cable) or the ability to load designs through a built-in floppy drive or CD drive. Many also have the capability of combining individual letters into multiple-letter monograms on the machine's touch screen, and a limited ability to resize the designs (20% up or down).

For older machines that use small memory cards, you need a reader/writer box and software to transfer designs to a blank memory card - the Magic Box, Amazing Box, Ultimate Box, etc. These devices only do the transfer, and don't support combining or merging letters into a new design, or resizing. There are a variety of software products for the second task - Embird, Melco Sizer, Resize Plus, etc. The other option would be to purchase a product that combines these two activities. These are specific to your type of machine - PE Design for Babylock, Brother, Bernina; Customizing Plus for Viking, etc.

Our designs fit within a 4" x 4" hoop, but can also be resized with the appropriate software. The latest resizing software, installed on your computer, can resize significantly more than 20%.

--Posted by: Lisa Vetowich at January 12, 2005 11:35 PM

Can you tell me how Karen created the presentation pillow for a christening gift. How did she use the Letters without the backround vines and how did she do the new backround?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

In a project submitted for our Gallery, Karen Greenhill creaded a three letter monogram from our Arabesque Monogram Set 2 with a symmetrical vine design in the background.

The Arabesque Monogram Set 2 is a two color design. The two parts can be used independently - the vine detail is color 1, the letter is color 2. In this case, using her embroidery software program, she first deleted the letter - color 2, then saved the remaining background with a new filename. Next, she opened that new design, then made a copy and added it to the first design, mirroring it so that the two halves could be positioned so that they joined. This design was then saved.

Next, she chose the letters that she wanted, and deleted the vine backgrounds - color 1. After saving this as a new design she combined it with the background design that she created earlier.

All embroidery software programs support this process with slightly different commands, so you will need to consult your programs's manual or help files.

--Posted by: Cindi at December 30, 2004 08:15 PM

How would you lay out a monogram with 4 initials?

EmbroideryArts Support replies:

The answer depends to some extent on what the initials represent. See our Rules of Monogramming for some opinion on how several four-letter monograms can be constructed.

Rules of Monogramming

Another approach would be to try to eliminate one letter. For instance, someone with two middle names may favor one of them. It's also possible to use all four and arrange them in an interesting way - for instance, two larger initials, with two smaller ones above.

--Posted by: Tricia Blanton at December 2, 2004 08:41 AM

If letters are of the same size, in what order should they be placed?

EmbroideryArts Support replies:

If the letters in a monogram are all the same size, they should be placed in the same order used in signing your name - John H. Rogers would be JHR.

--Posted by: Linda Byrd at November 18, 2004 04:48 PM

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