Updated June 9, 2023.
Monograms are a classic of traditional and preppy style. They are common in many fashion and home decor items. They make for great needlepoint.
But, all too often, this great style comes at a price. To get your custom monogram, not just an initial, you will have to wait to get the canvas made just for you.
That is until now. Making your own custom monogram is much easier than you might think. In this article I’ll cover designing a monogram and you’ll see the monogram I designed for myself.
What is a Monogram?
Simply put, a monogram is two or more letters arranged decoratively and used as a logo or personal identification. For people, monograms are usually initials.
The modern style for monograms is pretty straightforward. Even if the typeface has lots of swirls, the letters are generally in a straight or almost straight line, as is the case with my simple charted monogram above.
Earlier monograms were more elaborate, intertwining letters, often so much so that it’s hard to tell what the letters are. Dover has a book of charted monograms of this type. The monogram below, for William & Mary, is typical of this style:
Rules and Styles for Monograms
You probably never thought about it, but there are common conventions for creating monograms.
If the monogram is for a man, the middle letter may be the middle or last name. If it is the last name, it is larger than the other initials.
If the monogram is for a woman, the middle initial is the last name and is always larger.
If the monogram is for a couple, the last name, larger, is in the middle, with the bride’s name on the left.
If the monogram must have letters all the same size, the letters should be in the order of the name, i.e. JMP for Janet Margaret Perry.
Although you can use just about any typeface (font) for monograms, there are some styles that are pretty typical. Often the letters will be arranged to make a shape, such as a diamond, lines, or other geometric shapes are added to reinforce this. The picture below, taken from Pinterest, shows examples of many styles (not all of these will work for needlepoint).
Another image shows additional styles of monograms (from Monogram Chick).
Fonts for Monograms
Now we come to the fun part, picking a typeface (font) for the monogram.
This post has fourteen different fonts that all can be used to create monograms that are not shaped. The caption under the picture names each font and takes you to a location to download it.
Designing a Monogram
Before creating a monogram for needlepoint, consider some factors to make an attractive design
- Think about the size of the project. Single thread lines that curve do not always look good in needlepoint. If the monogram will be small, avoid script and letters with fine details.
- Think about the recipient. Some shapes and typefaces look more masculine, and some more feminine. Pick a style that suits the person and the item you are making.
- Think about the shape of the letters. Except for script, most monograms use simple, clear letters. Letters with exaggerated shapes, lots of details, or ones that are too quirky, messy, or casual usually will not work well for monograms. This type of letter can work well as a single initial.
Remembering the guidelines for women’s initials, my monogram will be JPM, with the P larger.
I begin by opening my word processor and typing the letters in the default font. Next, I resized them to 48 pts, still keeping all letters the same size.
Cut and paste to make 5-10 copies of the monogram.
Using the font selection for your program, start changing each monogram to a different font. Open a second diagram and list the fonts you used, so you can find them again later.
The final step is to enlarge the middle letter. It should be at least 75% bigger than the other letters (if the letters are 48 point, the center letter should be 84 point). This is just a starting point. You will almost certainly have to play with the sizes to create something that looks good. Not all fonts look the same size when done in the same point size. Not all will scale nicely.
Once you have completed this process, cross out any monograms you don’t like and then go away for several hours.
Come back and select your top three monograms. Note all three and the type sizes on your second document. Delete all but your favorite.
Here’s my chosen monogram. The font is Luxembourg 1910. The chart at the top of the article shows the monogram translated to stitches.