Q. When using proper names in a book, what is the rule for subsequent use of that name? For example, in a book that mentions Herbert Hoover, if I use his full name the first time it is mentioned, and then do so again 20 pages later, can I just say “Hoover” or must I say “Herbert Hoover”? What is the longest you can go without repeating the full name? Does the beginning of a new chapter affect this?
A. An editor must develop a feel for the pacing of a document, the familiarity of a particular name, and the likelihood of any confusion on the part of the reader. For example, it shouldn’t be necessary to repeat Herbert Hoover’s first name as often as that of a more obscure person, although if the text discusses other members of the Hoover family as well, you may need to use “Herbert” frequently.