I'm writing a formal essay on a book. The book is about a real person, but they are referred to by their first name throughout the entire book. When writing the essay, do I stay consistent with the book and refer to the person by their first name, or go the formal essay route and call them by their last name?

  • Are you supposed to apply a particular style guide?
    – rolfedh
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 18:26
  • Not that I know of. The only description of the style was just "formal essay", so I'm assuming MLA and not using first person. That's kind of all I've got.
    – wshtf0
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


According to the MLA website, you should give the person's full name and then refer to them by their last name thereafter.


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