This overlaps with some questions, though I'm not sure it matches any fully.
In lieu of italics
In lieu of italics, use underline. It's an old convention that the way to indicate to a typesetter that something should be italicised is to underline it in the typescript, and hence in the days of typewriters, underlining meant "this would be italicised, if only I could italicise on my typewriter".
In lieu of underline then in some plain-text formats (e.g. plain-text email) many will understand the convention whereby
/some text/ means some text and
_some text_ means underlined.
That said, if you really can't use any of those, the pairing either single or double quotes, whether the open-close ‘’ and “” or the straight '' and "", will serve.
There is also a use where one uses an apostrophe to separate a mentioned word from a pluralising s, as detailed more fully in this answer, though as that answer states, this is now old-fashioned to the point of obsolescence though still sometimes found in how many write the set phrases "if's and but's" and "do's and don'ts", with the latter also demonstrating that the apostrophe was often omitted if it would result in there being two apostrophes close together.
I think the British might employ this technique.
IIRC, The New Yorker uses that style, though it has a rather idiosyncratic orthography in many ways, so it never really counts as showing a use as generally accepted.
British use was once the single-apostrophe use I mention above, but again, that is now extremely old-fashioned, bordering on obsolescence.
In all, if you are in a typographic pinch, then you can use the style you suggest, but you are much better off using italics if available.