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Monogram Etiquette

When the word monogram comes to mind, many things may come to mind. You may notice a monogram on your stationery, a guest towel in a formal bathroom, a decal on the back of someone’s car or on the décor on the outside of a house. The use of the monogram is a timeless tradition which dates back to 350 BC when monograms were used to brand coins to differentiate currency for different rulers and dictators. Such a timeless tradition brings a level of elegance, sophistication and class to your stationery.

The Traditional Monogram

A monogram is the combination of an individual’s initials which can include anywhere from one to four initials at one time. A traditional monogram has three letters including the first, middle and last name initials. The order of the initials depends upon the style of monogram chosen. If the monogram has three letters the same size, the order of initials is first name, middle name last name. If the middle initial in the monogram is largest, the order of initials is first name, last name middle name.

Example: Jonathan Kaye Williams

The "Married Monogram"

Though it is not according to traditional etiquette, married couples are creating monograms of their own that combine the husband and wife’s first names and common last name into a monogram. If using this contemporary monogram style, be sure that the couple is married. If the couple is engaged, a married monogram should not be used until their wedding date. A married monogram would follow the 3-letter monogram style with the largest initial in the center. The wife’s first name initial should be on the left, the husband’s first initial should be on the right and the common last name should be in the center.

Example: Kathryn & Jonathan Williams

Traditional Handwriting Etiquette

Another aspect of monogramming, as well as writing thank you notes, is following traditional handwriting etiquette. There is a proper way to write a man and woman’s name when married, according to traditional etiquette. One of the most common mistakes when choosing the text for the front of your note card, or even written on a formal invitation, is the order in which a married couple’s name appears. A woman’s name should always be written before a man’s name, whether on wedding or social stationery. The thought behind this is that a woman is “given away” to the man during marriage, thus her name should always be first. Also, a man should never be separated from his last name, thus his name would always be second when written with his wife’s name. If using “Mr. and Mrs.” for titles, only the man’s name should follow the titles. The wife’s first name should not be used.


Correct: Alexandra and Christopher
Incorrect: Christopher and Alexandra

Correct: Alexandra and Christopher Johnson
Incorrect: Christopher and Alexanddra Johnson

Correct: Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Johnson
Incorrect: Mr. and Mrs. Christopher and Alexandra Johnson