Using Italics for Defined Terms?

A rogue comment by noted anarchist A. Wright Burke, M. Phil., in this post got commenters contemplating alternatives to using initial capitals to designate defined terms. In the process, Mark Anderson posted the following comment:

A German: English legal translator recently asked a similar question on IP Draughts. As German nouns are capitalised, they though this was not a useful way of indicating defined terms in German. I also note that European Commission Framework research contracts use italics, eg see…

That prompted two thoughts:

First, I feel Germany’s pain, but I don’t think that should lead us to drop initial capitals for English-language contracts.

And second, I think that using italics is way more distracting than using initial capitals. Just look at the contract Mark linked to.

But when it comes to matters of typography, one likes what one is used to, so for a brief while I’m open to suggestions, until I close my mind again like a steel trap.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.