MLA Tutorial


The Name Rule

Before you introduce evidence, you must "signal" to your reader where your evidence comes from. Typically, you will do this with a signal phrase that includes:

After you have already introduced a source in this way, you should leave out the first name and the appositive in all subsequent mentions of this source.

I call this the Name Rule:

Name Rule:

The first time you introduce a source, use both the first and last name of the author, followed by (or preceded by) an appositive. Thereafter, use only the last name.


Study the following example:

James Farnsworth, a professor at Harvard University, claims that violent crimes in New York City decreased dramatically between the years 2000 and 2010 (Farnsworth). Farnsworth believes that the drop in crime is due to better policing (Farnsworth).


In the second sentence, I left out Farnsworth's first name, and I left out the fact that he is a “professor at Harvard University". I am allowed to do this because I have already introduced him. Of course, if you introduce James Farnsworth on the first page of your paper, and then you cite him again on the 27th page of your paper, you might want to remind your reader that Farnsworth is the Harvard professor whom you cited earlier.

Check Your Understanding:

  1. What is the "Name Rule"? 

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.