What is a Monogram – Guidelines & Simple Placement rules

monogram rules

Monograms are basically initials of a person or one or more persons combined representing possession.  A monogram is a personal logo, the perfect way to represent a name and personalize the thing it is on. Monograms shout out to the world who the thing belongs to. It has been a sign of class and distinction for centuries. In weddings where monograms are most relevant, they indicate the joining of lives.

T-shirts, Handkerchiefs, Uniforms , Jackets, Hoodies, Tote bags, Backpacks, Hats, School bags, Baby clothes, Leather jackets, Kitchen Linen, Bathroom Linen, Wedding gifts, Aprons – there is no end to clothes and accessories you can monogram on to. 

People use monogram for different reasons. Some do so that they can identify their things from other’s. Some do it as a means of giving a personal character to their possessions. Some want the distinction that monograms can give. When it comes to weddings, monograms are hot properties. Everything is mass produced nowadays – a monogram can set even the most common place thing apart from the rest

Embroidering letters is not the same as monogramming. Monogramming uses letters representing a name – the initials are used in different placements in the monogram. Checkout the post on making a monogram on your own and 4 simple and easy ways to add it to your fabric. 

how to make your own monograms

Types of monogram designs


  • Straight Individually placed monograms – Here one, two or three initials of a persons’s name is written in upper or lowercases in a straight line.  If using a three letter monogram the center letter will be slightly bigger.
  • Block Monogram – this monogram has first initial and middle initial stacked on top of each other on the left side of the last name initial which is big – it can be made in lowercase or uppercase letters ( picture above)

monogram rules

  • Curved Monograms or shaped monograms – The initials are curved in a shape – oval or circle
  • Framed Monograms – This will set the monograms  inside a shape  – oval, rectangular or circular
  • Interlocked Monograms – The letters will be designed interlocked

Checkout the post on embroidering letters for details on how you can design and create monograms or  this site for free monogram designs you can try out with your own names. 

Monogram rules

There are no hard and fast rules in monogramming . You can have single letter monograms, double letter monograms, three letter monograms and even four letter monograms and design them the way you want it.The most typical/popular monogram arrangement is that of three letters:One larger central letter, flanked by two smaller letters, one on each side.

Occassion / PersonOrder of placement of Initials
Wedding Monogram (Blended)Bride's first name initial
Initial of Surname of the couple
Groom's first initial
Engaged Couple2 Letter Monogram - First name initials of Bride & Groom
Man / WomanSingle monogram - First name intial or Last Name initial alone
Single WomanFirst name initial
Last name initial
Middle name initial*
Married WomanFirst name initial
Married name intital
Maiden name initial**
ManFirst name initial
Middle name initial
Last name initial
Family monogramKid's First name initials (2) & Surname initial
Kids ( Girls & Boys)First name initial
Middle name initial
Last name initial

*For single woman First Name Middle Name & Last name order is used if all the letters are of the same size. It is when the second initial is bigger that the order First Name, Last Name & Middle Name used

** For Married Woman  the maiden name in her name which comes second when she was single is discarded and her family name initial takes the place . The last name will be that of her husband’s family name.This is strictly after marriage. So for wedding monograms this change is not done

What if you have a long Name?

If you have a 4-word name like Mel Gibson -Mel Colm-Cille Gerard Gibson and would all the initials to be there in the Monogram, you can line it as it is , say MCGG, or stack MC on top of GG 

General Monogram placement rules – How to read monograms

  • If you see a monogram with all the letters same size, you can read it as first initial, middle initial and last initial
  • If you see a monogram in which the middle letter is bigger you can read the monogram as first initial, last initial ( the bigger one) and then the middle name initial
  • When sewing the monogram, start with the center letter – you can then better position  the other letters
  • Monograms are always read left to right.
  • Usually when monogramming on handkerchiefs the men’s initials are designed smaller (sized  about  1″) than a woman’s

The size of monograms

The size of monograms is usually a personal choice. But the monograms you get embroidered professionally start from 1 inch to go up to 4 inches. For bigger projects, you can go bigger. It all depends on the proportion. For example on the pocket of our t-shirt you will get a design area of only 3.5 inch by 3.5 inch ( depending on the size). So the monogram should be well within that size.

To get the monogram size right you can print out the monogram you have in mind, ( all letters individually) and place it on the fabric to see how it looks . 

Wedding monogram rules

It is always a better idea to do a blended monogram after the wedding in my opinion. The way weddings get canceled at the drop of a pin before the final ‘I do”, it is always a better idea to spend a ton of money on expensive large scale blended monogramming after the wedding rather than before.

If you are giving a soon to be married couple a gift with a monogram or designing your own wedding monogram , there are many options you can choose

  • Choose a monogram with that of the bride’s and/ or groom’s first initials.
  • Choose to embroider the initials of the bride ( with 2 letters – bride’s first name and Last name) on clothing and accessories and of the groom on bar ware and other things masculine.
  • Another great idea is to use a 4 letter monogram – this will use the first and last name initials of the bride and the groom. You can combine them or separate them with a small symbol in the middle
  • Use the initials from the bride’s and groom’s last names

Monogram Placement

To test out the correct placement of monogram you can print out the monogram, cut it out and keep it on the item and ensure that the placement is to your preference. Another important thing which I feel is important when choosing the placement is the ease of embroidering. You will need to stabilize and hoop the area to be monogrammed.

Monograms are usually placed on the left front of clothing. On shirts they are placed on the shirt cuffs and collars and on left forearm . Some jackets have them on the back and even on the lining.

Some common items and general guidelines of monogram placement on them are as follows.Measurements are from the bottom of the monogram They are mostly similar to the guidelines for embroidery placements . 

Bath Linen

For Bathroom linen, Monograms are positioned according to the size of the item.They are placed on the opposite side of the label on the opposite end

Hand towels – 2 inch above the hem

Bath towels – 4 inch above hem on the opposite side of the label; For bigger bath towels 9 inches are common

Bed linen

Pillowcases – Monograms are usually placed near the opening or hem seamline, centered. A 2.5 inch from the opening/hem is normal. They can also be done centered on the pillow in bold letters ( size 10 inch)

Blankets – About 5 inch from the hem

Bed Sheets – Monograms are placed at the top of the sheet centered about 4 – 5 inch from the hem.

On Duvet covers and Coverlets Monograms are centered in the middle.

Checkout the post on the common bed sheet sizes.


On clothes, Monograms are usually placed on the left front area. 

Men’s Shirts – It is usually placed on cuffs. You can place monograms near the chest area as well as on the pockets, near the hem or on the sleeve placket . Place the monogram 7 inch down from the collar and 4 inch from the center

what is a monogram

On Shirt cuffs (usually it is the left cuff) – Design the monogram 1/4 inch in size.

The monogram may be placed in the top center of the wrist. Fold the cuff by half, so you know it’s center. Place the monogram 1″ from the center of the cuff towards the buttonhole a 1/2 inch above the cuff edge. The bottom of the letters should be towards the bottom of the cuff. 

On pockets – 1/2 inch down from the center of the pocket or a few inches down from the top edge. Initials monogrammed on the tip of the collar is also gaining popularity, but it is too visible so it has to be done tastefully 

Tie – Monogram 1.5 – 2  inch above the bottom tip. If you want the monogram to show when wearing with a vest you will have to place ot 9″ to 11″ from the tip.

Girl’s blouses – Place 4-6 inch down from the left shoulder seam  and 3 -5 inch from the center.

Girl’s sweaters: Place 3 1/2″ to 4 1/2″ down from the collar and centered on the front.

On the back of clothes – 6-9 inch from the collar

Bath robes – They are placed on the left side about 7 inch from the shoulder and 3 inch from the front opening ( shawl collar)

For children’s clothing, these measurements should be scaled down to their proportions.

Table Linen

On Napkins and placemats they can be placed about 2-3 inch from the edge on the corner.

There are some rules in monogramming which has been constant since the discovery of monograms but as I said nothing is written in stone. It is your preference and taste and the occasion that matters.Break the rules and create your own masterpiece.

Reference : embroideryarts.com

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Comments 7

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  1. Nice post. Can you tell me which is the best colour scheme for a wedding monogram ( for my handkerchief for the dday)

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      Hi Bella
      following the “something old & something blue” tradition you could make an ivory handkerchief with light blue monogram – best wishes

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