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Creating a Monogram

Until the beginning of the 20th Century, a single initial, usually the last initial, was the most common style.

Monograms are usually composed of capital letters, and all of our styles are done in all upper case characters.

In current usage, one, two and three-letter monograms are all equally common.

Our Monogram Sets consist of individual files for each letter of the alphabet. In many cases there are two included sizes, which makes it easy to create two and three-letter combinations by combining the appropriate letters from large and small sizes.

One example of a style in two sizes is the Arabesque Monogram Set 4.

To make a conventional three-letter monogram from this style, first open your embroidery software program, then bring up the file for one of the letters.

We suggest that you start with the larger center letter for the surname or last name, then add the flanking letters, on the left and right. This sewing sequence will produce longer connecting threads between letters for embroiders whose machines do not have automatic thread trimmers, and will also push the fabric away from the center as the complete design is sewn.

Each individual letter has its own unique filename. Using the Arabesque 4 style as an example, the filenames are AL0101A-Z for the smaller size, AL01012A-Z for the larger size (Note that the number 2 just before the appropriate letter of the alphabet is what differentiates the sizes).

To create the example pictured here (ABC), open the file called AL01012B. Next, utilizing the "Merge" or "Import" functions within your software program, add the letter A (AL0101A) on the left, then the letter C (AL0101C) on the right.

The spacing of the letters, and their position relative to eachother, is a personal choice, and will vary depending on the letters chosen, and the preference of the embroiderer.

Because you are working with individual designs for each letter, you have complete control over placement and spacing - just move the letters around onscreen until you are happy with the results, then save the combination under a new filename - one that you can easily remember.

Several of our styles (e.g. Circle, Empire) have left, middle, and right versions of each letter. Although the individual letters can still be used alone, these styles are designed to make three-letter monograms that form a specific shape, so the left side A, for example, is a different letter than the right side A.

The Empire Monogram Set, for example, has 78 individual embroidery files: AL1201LA-Z for the left side letters, AL1201MA-Z for the middle letters, and AL1201RA-Z for the right side letters (Note that the letter L (left), M (middle), or R (right), just before the appropriate letter of the alphabet, is what differentiates these files.

To create the three-letter combination shown here (ABC), start by opening the file called AL1201MB to bring up the middle letter B within your embroidery software program. Next, add AL1201LA (left side A), then AL1201RC (right side C). Move the individual letters around on screen until you are happy with the result, then save the combination under a new filename.

Individual letters from our styles will fit within a 4 inch hoop restriction in most cases. Please note, however, that the combinations made in the two examples above will exceed a 4 inch hoop size, making a 5 x 7 hoop, as a minimum, a requirement for sewing out three-letter monogram combinations all at once. Embroiderers who only have 4 inch hoops can still create three-letter monograms, but they will need to sew each letter individually, rehooping between each letter, which makes precise spacing and positioning of each letter much more difficult.

Feedback or Questions about "Creating a Monogram" (18)

What fonts will stitch well on ultrasuede? I am concerned about perforation problems. I am doing a 6 x 9 inch ultrasuede label with name & date of birth, and VERY simple applique design, all on ultrasuede that will then be appliqued on polar fleece blanket for newborn gift.

Embroideryarts Support answers:

Our designs are digitized for "average" fabric - so none of them are specifically recommended for specialty fabrics. However, keep in mind that ultrasuede is a fabric - not a leather product. Leather is much more likely to be compromised with needle perforations than any fabric would be.

If you're unfamiliar with our products, we recommend that you download our free Letter of the Month, and sew out a sample. The free letter currently offered is representative of the way we digitize everything. If you feel that there may be too much density after you have sewn a sample, try lightening the density somewhat within your embroidery software program. Density is typically a settling that you can control when you resize designs.

--Posted by: joanne tredeau at December 24, 2006 10:56 AM

I have been noticing a lot of the older hand embroidered initials were raised. Is it possible to create this effect with machine stitching? Would the filler be used after the underlay is stitched? What type of filler should be used?

Embroideryarts Support answers:

Hand embroidered monograms that have a very raised and rounded quality use a technique that is impossible for machine embroidery to duplicate. The hand embroiderer aligns strands of thread in a bundle, then uses top thread to "wrap" around this bundle, passing through the support fabric each time around. Since machines can't produce a long strand of thread, and actually go back-and-forth, rather than around-and-around, this technique can only be achieved by hand.

Although a purist won't be satisfied, we've seen results that simulate this look that are done with puffy foam. The puffy foam is put down before the underlay is sewn. Although the underlay pushes the foam down to some extent, top thread tension can be adjusted to compensate. Some experimentation would be necessary.

--Posted by: Vivian Barnett at December 24, 2006 10:50 AM

How would you monogram the last name of McCartney? One time, my mom found a place in Steamboat Springs, CO that had the 'c' of Mc placed underneath the M. That was the only time I've ever seen our last name monogrammed correctly. Do you do this? Sincerely, J. Brent McCartney

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

The solution that you describe is certainly correct. We have also seen examples with the C smaller and placed to the right side of the M. Having the C significantly smaller seems to indicate that it isn't just another initial. The C is also often eliminated entirely.

--Posted by: J Brent McCartney at October 12, 2006 06:05 PM

Ever heard of a "rule" that when doing a man's 3-letter monogram, that the middle initial would be larger and in the middle, with the last name initial on the right and smaller... versus a woman's monogram having the last name larger and in the center. A customer told me this the other day, and I'd never heard this before. My gut feeling is that its the customer's call; if she feels strongly one way or the other, I would prefer to do it her way. However, it is a gift, and it would be nice if the recipient is happy with it!

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Standard monogram construction places the middle initial in the center and the last initial on the right if the letters are all the same height. This concept is frequently used on men's dress shirts. Enlarging the last initial in the center is a method of giving emphasis to the last name, so giving that emphasis to the middle initial doesn't make sense.

We also feel strongly that the customer should have the final say, but the monogrammer should also try to act as an educator - supplied with information on what is "normal" the customer is then better informed to make this choice.

--Posted by: Nancy at January 21, 2006 12:13 PM

Can your software be used to creat monograms on paper, i.e. non embroidered images?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Our designs are digitized for computerized embroidery machines. In order to view and use them you need a specialized embroidery software program. Without this software images of the designs can't be printed.

--Posted by: Sandra McFarland at January 3, 2006 03:12 PM

How would you deal with a Rober R. Cullen Jr.?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

This is a situation where common usage would suggest that you eliminate the "Jr." and just create a standard three-letter monogram see The Rules of Monogramming at:

Rules of Monogramming

If Robert R. Cullen Jr. insists on including the "Jr." in the monogram you will need to find a creative way to work the extra letters into the overall monogram design.

--Posted by: B Cullen at October 20, 2005 10:27 PM

Question. How would the monogram for

Dennis Van Milligen appear?




EmbroideryArts Support answers:

In our Rules of Monogramming survey we posed a similar question based on Susan Marie DeGennaro and by a wide margin those who responsed considered D to be her last name initial for monogramming purposes.

View Rules of Monogramming.

If you follow this concept for your example the V would be the last initial, and DV would be the monogram, since Milligen isn't a middle name.

Keep in mind that the person may well have strong feelings to the contrary, and prefer DM rather than DV - it is always best to get the opinion of the owner of the name if possible.

--Posted by: Kathy at September 8, 2005 11:34 AM

UPDATE (June 2015):

Using the "B" from von Blott without the v would be incorrect. John David's last name isn't "Blott"; it's von Blott.

My maiden name is von Rosenberg. In a monogram, I would never, ever eliminate the v and use the R, as is suggested in the "von Blott" scenario, and I suspect that most of the people who responded are not "vons" and aren't familiar with titled last names.

Many vons take great offense when they are referred to without the von (for example, "Rosenberg" instead of von Rosenberg.) Leaving off the von is the same as if someone got your last name wrong, like calling you "Robertson" instead of "Robinson". It's incorrect and offensive.

The reality is that for a "von", you can't really do a proper aBc monogram, because the von's initials don't work with the format. In my family and in the families of other vons that I know, this is how we monogram (I will use the name John David von Blott as an example, assuming David is his middle name and John David is not a double name)

JvB (preferred)

I just thought I would write in to let you know about this, because "vons" tend to be very particular about their initials and names, and it can be a touchy subject. Honestly, my advice would be not to buy a monogrammed gift for a von without first contacting them and getting their preferred monogram.


Best regards,
Sally von Rosenberg Lillich

I am interested in monogramming a man's tie. How large should I make the initials and is there an exact placement for them?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

This is a situation that is controlled entirely by style. If you are trying to make a design statement you might want the initials as large as possible, and placed on the tie so that they show at mid-chest or higher.

If you are trying to be discreet, you would want to make the initials small and place them much closer to the tip of the tie, so that they would be hidden when the jacket is buttoned.

--Posted by: Lynn at August 16, 2005 07:35 AM

Which side of a man's shirt does the monogram go on?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

A monogram on a dress shirt typically goes above the pocket, on the left chest. Custom-made shirts sometimes have the monogram on the top edge of the pocket, but this placement isn't possible on an already constructed shirt, since it would sew the pocket shut.

On the cuff, the monogram is typically located on the same wrist where a watch might be worn - left wrist for right-handed men, right wrist for left-handed men.

--Posted by: Sharry at August 2, 2005 11:21 AM

Are all your monograms for machine use only?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Our designs are digitized for computerized home and commercial embroidery machines. They are software, and require specialized embroidery software, or an embroidery machine that can read the designs.

--Posted by: Donna Beasley at February 17, 2005 08:28 PM

What are the rules for putting a monogram on a man's shirt(above the pocket)? Should I use the traditional 3-letter monogram with the letter of the last name in the middle, or use a two-letter monogram with the first and last name only?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Two and three letter monograms are both correct. If you use a three-letter monogram there are actually two variations: You can place the last initial in the center and make it larger than the flanking letters, or you can make the three letters all the same height and organize them in the way you would write the name - first initial middle initial, last initial.

--Posted by: Marion Weaver at February 10, 2005 06:46 PM

I see the question about 4 initial monograms. What I have been looking for is a program which will allow 4 initials somehow or a graphic artist who will create a monogram for my daughter. I know how I want it to look but don't know how to do the computer graphics/digitizing part. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Stuart Milton

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

If you see the style that you are interested in on our website, and you have embroidery software for combining/merging individual letters together, you will be able to create a personalized four-letter monogram after purchasing and installing the Monogram Set of your choice. Each letter of the alphabet is a separate embroidery file - the appropriate letters can be opened within your embroidery software program and moved around onscreen. If the program supports resizing you can also adjust the size of the letters individually until you are satisfied with your personalized monogram. That combination is then saved under a new filename, and can be sent to the machine for embroidery.

Hiring a graphic artist to create the monogram is another option (sorry, but be don't have anyone to recommend). Once the design is created graphically it would have to be digitized for embroidery. There are companies on the Internet that offer digitizing services - search under "Digitizing for Embroidery" - and there may also be local vendors listed under "Embroidery" in the Yellow Pages. We don't offer a custom digitizing service.

--Posted by: Stuart Milton at January 12, 2005 02:12 PM

I recently made a purchase from this site and am completely thrilled with it. At first I was very intimidated about the whole install process, but after I read the instructions, it was simple.

I do have a question about the proper placement to put initials (monogram) on a pillowcase. Should it be on the hem or a few inches above the hem?

EmbroideryArts Support answers:

Placing a monogram on a pillowcase - above the hem or on the hem - both solutions are correct. To some extent the decision depends on the size of the monogram, also on your own preference.

You might be interested in our Monogram Manager, a set of 15 templates for monogram placement (pillowcase is one of them) alon with a 20 page illustrated full-color booklet. For more information:

Monogram Manager

--Posted by: Missy at January 10, 2005 04:44 PM

What do you recommend for last names McElroy or McElyea? They are asking if I have the small "c" that can be included with the M using the Gothic Monogram Set 5.
Any solutions?
Thanks for your input,
Marti Sentell

EmbroideryArts Support replies:

We have posted the results of our Rules of Monogramming questionaire, which deals with questions like this:

Rules of Monogramming

--Posted by: Marti Sentell at December 2, 2004 03:24 PM

What is the rule on a monogram w/von (small "v" + space)as a part of the last name? ex: John David von Blott? Thanks very much.

EmbroideryArts Support replies:

In our Rules of Monogramming questionaire, we asked for opinion on several similar situations, and the results indicated that most who responded would favor Using the "B" from "von Blont".

You can view the results:

Rules of Monogramming

--Posted by: Charlotte London at December 1, 2004 12:56 PM

You mention a using a software program on your computer to do monograms. Can you tell me the names of some of these programs that let you work with 3 letters at a time on your computer screen? Also, where can I purchase these programs? Thanks!

EmbroideryArts Support replies:

The ability to combine, or "merge" three letters into one new design is a part of all full-featured digitizing and editing software programs. Every machine manufacturer, and some who only create embroidery software programs, have a product of this type.

For those embroiderers who aren't interested in the ability to digitize and edit their own designs (or in paying for a more expensive program that includes features that they feel they will never use) stand-alone programs may be a better option. There are at least a dozen inexpensive (around $ 100 US)options on the market. These programs also allow designs to be resized.

We recommend Embird because it is a good basic program, has additional add-on features that can be purchased separately, and offers a fully functional trial version. For more information, go to http://www.embird.com

Also, please note that products like the Magic Box are transfer systems - they allow you to transfer designs to a blank memory card, but don't include merging or resizing features. Also, monogramming software programs like Monogram Wizard work with their own fonts and don't allow other designs to be imported into them for merging or resizing.

On our website we offer a series of free tutorials which are intended to help you get started with embroidery software programs:


--Posted by: Jane at November 30, 2004 12:38 AM

I purchased the Empire Monogram Set. I need the PES format and have a Mini Amazing Box. I can download the initials, but when I put the card in my machine, they are not justified. Do I need another program or is there something I can do to justify the initials. Thank you. Linda

EmbroideryArts Support replies:

All of our products consist of individual files for each letter of the alphabet. They are designed to allow the user to make combinations by combining or "merging" individual letters together.

In order to make these combinations easily you may need a software program that allows you to open two or three letters onscreen, move them visually into the combination you want, then save the combination under a new filename. This new design is the one that goes to the machine by way of your Magic Box.

Some newer embroidery machines allow designs to be merged on the machine's touchscreen. Many of our customers still prefer a software program on their computer because of the computer's larger screen.

--Posted by: Linda at August 14, 2004 06:18 PM

How do you monogram 4 letter initials? Example: initials H S A J or C J D J. Two of my children have 4 letter initials and I would love to monogram some items for them, how do you suggest I go about it? Thank you, Tara

EmbroiderArts Support answers:
The rules for letter order in monograms were created in the early 20th Century - before the situation you describe was a common problem.

If your children have 4 individual initials - two middle initials for instance, you may want to consider dropping one initial for monogramming purposes. If they have hyphenated last names, this solution isn't as relevant.

We will be posting a "focus group" survey on our website soon to try to develop a new set of rules for the modern world.

--Posted by: Tara at August 5, 2004 07:15 PM

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