Design & Education

Type of Monogram

Type & Info Design / Project #1


Select a typeface that best represent yourself, and create monogram with your initials. 



Step 1: Debrief

First of all, define the design problem. Use mind map to explore possibilities and expand your horizons.

Be aware that the project is twofold. First, you have to define who you are. Then, you'll select typeface that best represent yourself to create a monogram. 

Step 2: Research

Analyze yourself by listing keywords about your origin, nationality, cultural background, belief, values, personality, motto, goals and dreams. You may analyze yourself using tools like the Golden Circle. Or, you may ask your relatives and close friends about yourself. 

Research type classifications. There are more than serif and san-serif. For each type categories, list few typefaces that you like. 

You may research different visual styles such as art nouveau, art deco, gothic art, retro sci-fi and so on, and list typefaces that belongs to a certain style. 

Step 3: Organize Your Research

Organize keywords about yourself using tools like brand pyramid, and define your essence in a few words or sentence. 

Organize your typographic research in chart. List key attributes and characteristics for each type categories. Also research typefaces that you liked under each categories. 

Organize your visual research into a mood boards. You may include pattern, graphic elements like ornaments, color scheme and typeface in the board. Write keywords describing the key attributes and personality of the style. You should have at least three different mood boards. 

Step 4: Ideation + Brain Storming

Select three typefaces (or mood boards) that best represent your essence, and create three design options for your monogram. Create at least 25 idea sketches for each directions.

Present your idea and get feedback. Get inspired with your classmates ideas. 

Step 5. Development

Select one your design option to finalize. Create multiple variations. Check if your design reflects the brief and if it fits the aims and the specifications.

Apply your monogram to some of your personal items, such as business card and resume. You may create a sticker and apply it to your smartphone case. Or you may use your monogram for the cover of your your process book and presentation.



Week 1 (Jan. 25): Present your research (about yourself, type classification chart & mood boards) and idea sketches to your classmates in a small group setting. 

Week 2 (Feb. 1): Class Discussion. Present 3 design options, and explain concept behind each design options. 

Week 3 (Feb. 8): Class Critique. Present final design and applications. 

You will continue revising your design until the end of the semester. 




Thinking with Type: 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students
Page 10 to 59

Supplemental (Recommended) Reading

Marks of Excellence: The History and Taxonomy of Trademarks
Page 8 to 41

Design School: Type: A Practical Guide for Students and Designers
Page 13 to 87



The original Greek meaning of the term 'monogram'is 'single line,' understood as something written or drawn in outline. Today the word is normally used to indicate a design made up of the initials of a person's name.

As early as the first century AD, the Greek philosopher Plutarch (c45–c125), who could neither read nor write, signed his name with a monogram; they were often used instead of a real signature to compensate for illiteracy.

From Charlemagne, King of the Franks (768–814) to Philippe IV (1285–1314), French monarchs signed with monograms. Charlemagne and most other monarchs signed with a monogram constructed as a cross with a lozenge in the intersection. As early as the fourth century, the Roman orator and consul, Symmacus, suggested that monograms should be recognized rather than read.

There is a parallel between early monograms and contemporary letter trademarks that are recognized rather than read in parts of the world where literacy is not widespread. More people can recognize the Coca-Cola name mark than spell the name. Very few can explain what the name literally stands for.

In kingdoms, the sovereign's monogram may include an 'R' for Rex (king or head of state) or Regina (queen), for example, ER II, Elizabeth Regina the Second. A royal monogram signals both authority and ownership. In the first meaning it may be seen as a mass-produced, abbreviated, easy-to-read signature. Royal monograms are used as signs of legitimacy on coins, on products with royal warrants and on public buildings with a role derived from the authority of the Crown.

Excerpt from Marks of Excellence Page 24.

Monogram of Elizabeth Regina the Second (1952–) on an English cast-iron letter box.

Monogram of Elizabeth Regina the Second (1952–) on an English cast-iron letter box.