correspondence etiquette Stationery


I absolutely love a monogrammed card.  Personal monograms, usually only containing three letters, can reflect a wide range of styles; they can be as modern and simple or as flowery and extravagant as one wants.  A lot of monograms with more block styled letters feel contemporary, yet as our founder John Dempsey writes in “Art Stationery and Usages of Polite Society,” monograms date back to ancient times!  Dempsey even mentions a letter housed in the Vatican archives from 800 A.D., from the famous Roman emperor, Charlemagne, with his monogram on it.  Monograms persisted in 1878, the year Dempsey & Carroll was founded, and are still thriving today!

Here’s what our founder said about monograms:

  1. The “family letter,” or the first letter of one’s last name should be at the center of the monogram.
  2. The first letter of the last name should be as plain and simple as possible, so that it is the first thing people notice.
  3. The monogram should appear symmetrical.

Today, it’s still traditional to have the first letter of the last name be centered and slightly larger than the other two letters.  These days, the simplicity of letters (or lack thereof) is really up to you – let your personal style guide you.  Having your initials on a card/sheet is different from a traditional monogram in that the letters are typically the same size and the order goes as follows: first letter of first name, first letter of middle name, and first letter of last.

As for couples, there are a multitude of options.  If you are taking your partner’s last name, the order goes as follows: first initial (typically of the wife), initial of shared last name, first initial (of husband).  In this set up, the initial in the center should appear slightly larger than the letters on either side.  In cases where a couple does not share a last name, the order would be like so: wife’s first name initial, wife’s last name initial, husband’s last name initial, husband’s first name initial.  In this case, the two last name initials would both be slightly larger than the surrounding initials.  Same-sex couples can decide whose initials go first based on personal preference!

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