Q. What is the rule about using quotation marks to signal an unusual use of a word? I’m editing a writer who employs this device overmuch, it seems to me. But I don’t want to be a fuddy-duddy. Any advice?
A. Chicago discourages this usage. Better to say exactly what you mean. Excessive use of scare quotes imparts a jittery feel to writing and gives the impression that the writer isn’t skilled at conveying precise meanings. When you decide to use them because they seem like the best way to introduce an unusual phrase or jargon, drop the quotation marks for subsequent uses of the same word or phrase.