Hemes are often incorporated into designed proteins. The importance of the heme ligand type and its orientation is still a matter of debate. Here, heme ligands and ligand orientation were investigated using a nonredundant (87 structures) and a redundant (1503 structures) set of structures to compare and contrast design features of natural b- and c-type heme-binding proteins. Histidine is the most common ligand. Marked differences in ligation motifs between b- and c-type hemes are higher occurrence of His-Met in c-type heme binding motifs (16.4% vs. 1.4%) and higher occurrence of exchangeable, small molecules in b-type heme binding motifs (67.6% vs. 9.9%). Histidine ligands that are part of the c-type CXXCH heme-binding motif show a distinct asymmetric distribution of orientation. They tend to point between either the heme propionates or between the NA and NB heme nitrogens. Molecular mechanics calculations show that this asymmetry is due to the bonded constraints of the covalent attachment between the heme and the protein. In contrast, the orientations of b-type hemes histidine ligands are found evenly distributed with no preference. Observed histidine heme ligand orientations show no dominating influence of electrostatic interactions between the heme propionates and the ligands. Furthermore, ligands in bis-His hemes are found more frequently perpendicular rather than parallel to each other. These correlations support energetic constraints on ligands that can be used in designing proteins.