Two Rules Before You Monogram and Personalize

Down here in the south, monogramming is huge. I have friends that monogram anything they can get their hands on. I swear, if they could tattoo a monogram on their kids and get away with it, they would. Kidding! (kind of 😉 ) I am in the pool of folks who appreciate a monogram if it is done more subtly. Read: you probably won’t catch me with my initials on a big, floppy beach hat but I’ve been rocking a “KLN” on my phone case for the past two years. And what about personalization? Do you have your family’s name displayed on your mailbox? Door mat? On a garden flag? And, even if you aren’t into monograms or personalizing your decor at all, I bet at some point, you have/will send out printed invitations/announcements with your family name. Around Christmastime, when the cards start flowing in, that’s when I notice it most. If you plan to design and customize your outdoor decor for the season or send out a batch of cards, read these two rules before you monogram and personalize.

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Maybe it was ingrained in us naturally an early age  that a husband’s name appears first – it’s typically “Mr. and Mrs. XYZ”. But, in an initial monogram, the wife’s first name initial actually appears first in the series. The married last name follows (usually slightly larger than the other two letters), and the husband’s first name initial. For example, the monogram I use with my husband, David, is “KLD”.

For a single name monogram, it would read as first name initial, last name initial, middle/maiden name initial. On more than one occasion, I have seen situations where someone assumed the large middle initial should be their first name initial, with the far left being their middle initial and the far right being their last name initial. This is how “Kelley Nan Lopez” should read. 


This common mistake tends to happen less in the home and more often on printed announcements. But, maybe you have a door mat or a sign in the kitchen – one of those popular pieces of family wall art with your family name “Est. 2002” type deals. I won’t go into depth on grammatical rules and details (there are many I don’t follow and I’m certainly not an English teacher), but, just remember that typically, you should not be using an apostrophe in your last name. To make your name plural (indicating “we are the Smiths”), add an ‘s’ or in some cases, an ‘es’. For my last name, which ends in a ‘z’, this is how the plural would appear. And no, that is not my real address 😉

Here is an example of simply adding an ‘s’. See? No apostrophe.

Here is our Christmas card from two years ago (2016 just didn’t happen for us haha 😉 ).

“But what if my last name is ‘Miller’?” Nope- no apostrophe. It should read “The Millers”. What if my last name is ‘Dole’ and ends in an ‘e’?” Just add an ‘s’ – it should read “The Doles”. “What about a ‘z’, like in ‘Perez’?” Then you are like me- add an ‘es’ to make it “The Perezes”.

If you are still in doubt about making your family unit name plural, drop the “the” and stick to your last name, as is; i.e. “Lopez”. Or, go with “The (INSERT NAME) Family”. But, if you are labeling/signing your name, never use that possessive ” ‘ “.

If after reading this, you are now really wanting something to monogram, here are a few favs where your personal touch can be added tastefully.

Monograms add the perfect touch of “special” and can give individuality to something more “common”. If you want something with your name on it, you deserve to have it done correctly. I still don’t know why there aren’t more shops and printers that catch these mistakes; I suppose they can’t double check all orders that come through but I’m sure they see an apostrophe on a doormat order at least 50% of the time. But, the THIRD and most important rule is if you too can spot a misused possessive ” ‘ ” from a mile away on the cards you receive from friends and family, smile and be grateful they sent something, and remember – being polite trumps etiquette if it comes at the expense of kindness.


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  1. 3.22.17
    Shauna said:

    I love this informative post Kel! I feel like I need to go monogram something now! You always have great ideas!

  2. 3.22.17

    Thank you for sharing!! I am so glad you are getting this information out there for people you see. I hate when monograms are done incorrectly, which happens more than you realize.

  3. 3.22.17
    Ingrid said:

    What a great post! As someome raised in the Midwest with the Bible in one hand and Emily Post’s etiquette book in the other, (I know, totally giving away my age here, lol), I can more than appreciate your beautifully written lesson here. Love this!

  4. 3.22.17
    Susan McInnis said:

    Ha! I love this and people do it wrong all the time. My last name is McInnis, so I usually do McInnis Family. I’m from Texas and it’s always been big for my family at least to have names on everything. <3

  5. 3.22.17
    Tamara said:

    Kel I love anything monogrammed but all I have is a pair of hand towels and a key holder!! I love them both but if I had my way I’d have dishes, towels, pillow shams, the WORKS! Loved this post!! xo

  6. 3.22.17
    Patty said:

    THANK YOU thank you thank you for going over that apostrophe rule. I cannot tell you how much it drives me bonkers when I see people just throw it in there because there is an s involved. Great examples given to really help it sink in.

  7. 3.22.17
    Kate said:

    Great post and thank you! What would you do if the family name ends in ‘s’ (ex: Deans)? “The Deanses” sounds incorrect so I typically address to “The Deans Family.”

    • 3.22.17

      Kate, that is exactly right! I know it can look weird- if you don’t like “Deanses”, your option is perfect 😉

  8. 12.19.17
    Martha Woodham said:

    Is this correct for personalizing a Bible for a wedding gift? Jane and Jim Brown

    • 12.22.17

      For married names, you can do either first 😉

  9. 2.9.18
    Kathy Humber said:

    I would like to make monogram hand towels for cousin’s son and his fiance. His last name is Odell with an apostrophe after the “O” How do you work that out in monogram? All I’ve come up with is just to do the Odell and leave out the first and last name

    • 2.19.18

      Hi, Kathy! You would just use the “O”. So it would be her first name initial, O, his first name initial. (That is, if it is a married monogram 😉 ).

  10. 1.6.19
    Delilah Mahon said:

    Hi. I want to buy a garden flag with our name and an est. date. Should the date be the year we got married or the year we bought this house? Thanks. D. Mahon

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