How to Monogram with a Double Name

A familiar Southern quandary.

Contemporary Initial
Using the last initial only gives linens a more contemporary vibe. Photo: Photo: Hector Sanchez

"That's such a Southern thing." We've all heard it and know it can describe countless things. Two of those undeniably Southern things are double names and monograms. Southerners will find an excuse to monogram just about anything, even items as small or mundane as napkins or house slippers. Maybe you're looking to buy a baby gift for a double-named infant or a wedding gift for a double-named bride. Choosing a monogram style and font is already confusing, so you shouldn't worry about which letters will fit or how they will appear.

As two supremely Southern traits, why haven't we decided how to use double names in monogramming? Whether you have a double name and want to keep your maiden name when you get married, you have two middle names, or any other combination for needing four letters to monogram, here are some creative ways to get around the four-letter issue.

As the writer of these best tips, I have a double name—Mary Shannon. For these examples, I will demonstrate ideas using the letters M, S, W (my last name), and X to represent the fourth possible letter.

One Letter, No Problems

A straightforward fix is to have a monogram with just the first letter of your first name or the first letter of your last name in a large font. For me, a towel would have a big "M" or a big "W" on it, and if I get married and take a new last name, it would have the first letter of the husband's last name. In the same way, you can always get your full last name monogrammed on items that are big enough for it. For example, I could get "Wells" monogrammed on a towel as easily as a "W." This could be an issue if your last name is long. One initial or the full last name for monogramming can look clean.

Drop a Letter

Many people with a double name or four names opt to drop one of their middle names (or their maiden name, if newly married with a double name) to have a three-initial monogram. In theory, this decision is an easy way to have a "traditional" monogram, but leaving off a name might not be easy. If a name has been in your family for generations, or you were given a name for a particular reason, this quick fix might not be the best option.

Try a Block Arrangement

One of the most common ways to monogram a name with four letters is to have all four letters in a row in order "First," "Middle," "Middle," "Last," or, for example, "MSXW." For this type of monogram, sometimes called a "block" monogram, all the letters are the same size and are usually in an unembellished font. Cursive or curly letters might be hard to read with this style, so stick to something simple.

Try a Diamond Arrangement

Another idea for monogramming with four letters is a diamond shape. The top of the diamond is the first letter of the first name in a slightly bigger font, and the bottom of the diamond is the first letter of the last name in the same size font. The left and right of the diamond are the first and second middle names (or the middle name and maiden name), in that order, in a smaller font than the top and bottom letters in the diamond. For example, (from the top, clockwise) big "M," small "X," big "W," small "S."

Stack the Monogram

Another monogram style is a "stacked" look. For this monogram type, the last name's first letter is larger in font size, and the other letters are "stacked" in a smaller font size to the left of the last name's letter. For example, start with a large "W," stacked next to a small "M" on top, "S" in the middle, and "X" on the bottom next to the last name's letter. Be sure all letters are the same height. This style works best with a straight font rather than an extravagant cursive style.

How To Hyphen

Another confusing aspect of double names is whether or not they include a hyphen. Some double names are hyphenated, and some choose to hyphenate their maiden and married names. A block style will be the best option if you want to include the hyphen in your monogram. For example, a double name would be "M-SXW." If you have a hyphenated last name and want to keep the hyphen in your monogram, the order would be "First Name" in small font size, "Maiden Name" in larger font size, a hyphen, "Husband's Last Name" in larger font size, "Middle Name" in small font size. It would look like this: "MX-WS," with the "X-W" printed in a larger font than the "M" and "S," just as the last name is a larger font size for a traditional three-letter monogram.

However, much of the monogramming community thinks adding a hyphen in a monogram looks a little choppy. If you agree, you can monogram all four letters and omit the hyphen in those same styles.

For Double Names with No Spacing

There are a lot of double names created with two names put together without a space. For names like "AnnaLee," the consensus is to use the first letter of the name as the first letter in the monogram. If AnnaLee's full name were "AnnaLee Caroline Smith," her monogram would be "ACS" in block style or "ASC" with the "S" in a larger font. If you have a double name like "AnnaLee" and want to include, in this case, "Lee" in your monogram, you can follow any of the four-letter styles mentioned above.

When you add a four-initial monogram to an item, remember to consider the size of the item you're monogramming. Smaller items might only have room for a single letter, while others have room for all four. Your local monogram shop or seamstress can assist you with sizing, fonts, and styles and might even develop a unique design for you.

These options will not suit everyone, but as Southern traditions go, you'll want to try as many ideas as possible to discover the perfect way to monogram your name.

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