Create Your Own Monogram: Tips from a Librarian

We've been obsessed with monograms for a while, but we've never thought about creating one of our own. Never, that is, until we got inspired by New York Public Library librarian Jessica Pigza's blog post on the Design Sponge guest blog. With the help of a 1927 manual, Jessica details some tips on creating your own monogram.

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Jessica, who blogs for the NYPL about all things handmade, dug into the New York Public Library's collection on monograms and reported on her finds for the Design Sponge guest blog, where she had been blogging as part of her involvement in the Design by the Book video project, a collaboration between Design Sponge and NYPL that documents the process of artists using Library materials for inspiration.

In her post, Jessica highlighted How to Design Mongrams by Elizabeth and Curtiss Sprague. This DIY guide was published in London in 1927, and is filled with instructions and examples that Jessica highlights here.

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Tips for Designing Your Own Monogram from Jessica:

The Spragues explain that a well-designed monogram will exhibit “proportion, rhythm, fine spacing, and unity.” And to that end, they advise the following:


  • Start by writing down on paper the letters of your initials in both lower case and capitals.

  • See if any “combinations of letters immediately suggest a happy shape or arrangement.”

  • Look for “strokes which are common in two of the letters” (such as how both capital R and D have similarly curved sides).

  • If two of the same letter are present, consider making one a mirror image of the other.

  • Simple letter types are more flexible than “elaborate, florid letters” which are “quite too fanciful to be further played with.”

  • Feel free to take “unlimited liberties in the distortion of letters” in the design process, but remember that the result should remain legible.

  • A monogram will usually form a symmetrical outside shape of some sort, such as oval or diamond, but irregular forms can be quite nice as well.

more images here