I am writing a research paper where it talks a great deal about a particular individual. I have already introduced the full name in the essay, should I address him by his last name after there on after? For example, if I introduced a person named John Lee, should I refer to him as Lee throughout the essay? I am using MLA format by the way.

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    I would think this is standard. What does the MLA Style Manual suggest? NB your question is probably off-topic on our site as you're asking for writing advice, but it would definitely be on-topic on our sister site Writing.se and would be more likely to get specific advice relevant to academic writing. I'll flag this post for moderator attention to consider migrating it there. :-) Dec 2 '18 at 23:25

One website citing the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (New York: MLA, 1988) 46-47 says that you should use just the last name after the first time (with some exceptions):

In general, the first time you use a person's name in the text of your paper, state it fully and accurately, exactly as it appears in your source.

Arthur George Rust, Jr.
Victoria M. Sackville-West

If you wish to include a fuller title to give the weight of authority to your source, you may do so in the first reference: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Venerable John Henry Newman.

In subsequent uses of the name, use the person's last name only (Sackville-West, King, Newman)—unless, of course you refer to two or more persons with the same last name—or give the most common form of the person's name (Michelangelo for Michelangelo Buonarroti; Surrey for Henry Howard, earl of Surrey).


Once you refer to them formally once, you just refer to them by their last name for the rest of your piece.

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    Hi Random! Welcome to Writing.SE! Thank you for your answer. Could you edit and expand it to include some source on what you're saying? Dec 6 '18 at 8:03
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    Hi Random. Adding to Galastel's comment above: Suppose someone else were to post an answer saying only "You need to refer to them formally every time you refer to them within your piece". In such a situation, how could one tell which answer is more likely to be correct? Adding some reference, citation or source for your claim greatly reduces this problem.
    – user
    Dec 6 '18 at 11:52

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