Say I have introduced/defined some not-so-common terms like "clock register", "ancilla", etc. in the first section of a research paper, and while doing so I kept them within double quotes. However, I was wondering whether even during the subsequent occurrences of those terms I should use double quotes or not.

What's the convention regarding this in the physics and computer science communities?

2 Answers 2


The usual convention in CS:

  • Use italics when you first mention the term and define it.
  • After that, you will use it just like any other word. No italics, no boldface, no quotation marks.
  • 4
    This is also the convention in physics, and probably many other fields too. Sep 5, 2018 at 20:43

I think it would be unusual to do that, actually. However, if you want to "emphasize" the terms at each use you could use some typographic form. I would suggest italic, however, over double quotes. Imagine a CS paper in which every use of "list" was printed that way.

But using a typographic convention should really only be needed if the word defined is also a common word or term that is also used in its normal sense in the paper as well as its newly defined technical sense.

If you over use typographic conventions, by the way, say, ALL CAPS and bold and such throughout a paper without a good reason, the paper just starts to look ugly and will be harder to read. The reason I suggest italic above is that it is easier on the eye.

  • 5
    Only if you are a heavy metal writer.
    – Buffy
    Sep 5, 2018 at 11:16
  • 12
    In that case you should actually 💀 𝔈 𝔐 𝔓 H Ä S I Z E 💀 them. Sep 5, 2018 at 20:46
  • @leftaroundabout, yeah (banging heads)
    – Buffy
    Sep 5, 2018 at 20:51
  • @Buffy In a CS paper, it would be (list)
    – TripeHound
    Sep 6, 2018 at 7:03
  • @Buffy "banging heads"... that... does not mean the same as headbanging...
    – R. Schmitz
    Sep 6, 2018 at 11:15

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