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What is the best way to mention a word: italics, quotes, or single-quotes (apostrophes)?

What is the better way to typeset terms referring to ideas and concepts, italics or quote marks?

Examples (with quote marks):

  1. Peter termed this principle the "first law of success".
  2. The idea refers to the notion of "open source".
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marked as duplicate by tchrist, Kris, Matt E. Эллен, Andrew Leach, Robusto Oct 31 '12 at 12:16

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

I prefer italics because quotation marks seem too distracting. But that's a judgment that has to be made based on what the piece looks like in print. How often do they appear? Are they too conspicuous? Etc. However, this isn't an English usage question but a printing question. It's not our line. Ask a designer or an art critic, not a grammarian. – user21497 Oct 31 '12 at 10:33

There is no universal preference: you probably have to weigh the formatting in context.

Some relevant discussion:

Use–mention distinction (Wikipedia):

Although the standard notation for mentioning a term in philosophy and logic is to put the term in quotation marks, issues arise when the mention is itself of a mention. Notating using italics might require a potentially infinite number of typefaces, while putting quotation marks within quotation marks may lead to ambiguity.

Quotation (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):

[...] quotation is not invariably indicated by the use of quotation marks. Sometimes, for example, italicization is used instead, as in:

Bachelor has eight letters

Other devices employed as substitutes for quotation marks include bold face, indentation, and line indentation.

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