Musings: Use the Right Term!

Been working on a short piece of fiction, which probably won’t be ready for a few days. I happened to be looking through some things I’d jotted down in the past and thought I’d share this jewel because it’s an example of one of my pet peeves — people using terms incorrectly even when they know better. Why do they do it? (Other than to annoy me.)

April 2015

Client says I am supposed to take a case study and boil it down to include it in another document. Except it’s not a case study. A case study is a detailed real-world example to illustrate a point or examine a subject in depth. What I have here is labeled a case study, but what it really is is a PowerPoint slide. One vague, overly simple slide with a few micro-short bullet points — that really doesn’t say anything.

Obviously, the unknown author of the slide didn’t know what a case study is. Or maybe he did but thought labeling the file “Case Study” would be enough to elevate it from its meager state and disguise the fact he didn’t do anything.

It is so minimalist, if I boil it down, there won’t be anything left.

The person who made it did include a helpful note about the slide being: “Self Explanatory”.

Which it is not.

Whoever you are, thanks for complicating my day. I hate you with every fiber of my being and hope an anvil falls out of the sky on you.

You’d be surprised how often people misuse a term and either have no idea what it means or don’t care. Or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised. To be honest, I don’t know why I am anymore.

It’s this type of sloppiness with terms that causes confusion. I’ll point it out to someone that they’re using the wrong terminology, but they don’t stop. They tell me to quit being a grammar Nazi or smile politely while ignoring me. And pretty soon, everyone around them is using the term incorrectly. Why are we so complacent?

An infographic by any other name…

Another term I see abused all the time by marketing teams from big corporate clients is the dreaded infographic. Everyone wants an infographic because they need something cool so ‘Hey, let’s make an infographic. It will look awesome’. No, it won’t because you don’t know what it is and you sent me something totally unsuitable for an infographic. Basically, if you aren’t familiar with an infographic, it is a visual image that takes a bunch of stats, concepts, or a process and turns them into an easy to read diagram or chart. They are excellent for simplifying a subject. When done right, they can be informative and entertaining — but what they shouldn’t be is chock-full of words. So, of course, clients will give you a two-thousand-word document and tell you they want to turn it into a super cool infographic without losing anything. Because they don’t know what the hell an infographic is and that they are asking the impossible.

I hate these people even more than the case study guy. Hopefully, there is a special place in Marketing Hell for these people.

But I know it’s a losing fight. And I have another non-infographic infographic to work on this week.

Why do I struggle? I’ve kind of given up on the infographic fight, though every once in a while, my indignation will rise up and I’ll have to get pedantic just to fight against the dumbing down of society. It’s a hopeless fight, but then again, most of them are.

Here’s an example of an effective infographic published by Entrepreneur featuring advice from billionaire businessman Mark Cuban. Cuban’s “12 Rules for Startups,” taken from his book “Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It.”


You can see the full infographic at Entrepreneur

9 thoughts on “Musings: Use the Right Term!

    1. Sean D. Layton

      Thank you, Bojana, I consider that very high praise as I am a sincere admirer of your work. Um, I was debating submitting something to somewhere. I guess I just have to figure out what and where.


      1. Sean D. Layton

        Will do. Thanks for the tip. I did have a super short flash piece published by the Drabble right after I first started blogging, but I haven’t tried elsewhere.


  1. “You’d be surprised how often people misuse a term and either have no idea what it means or don’t care.” Wtf is up with this? I was listening to a podcast a few months back by a journalist (yes, a professional one) who kept misusing words. Not once, not the same word repeatedly misused, multiple words that were just used completely wrong. It was making me way more agitated than it should, so I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one massively irked by this. I look up words all the time to make sure I’m using them right, it takes .001 seconds now, you don’t even have to dust off a book. Sorry to hijack this with a rant but I think you might sympathize!

    I get it about the infographics. They’re out of control. I think it’s the short attention spanned that think they’re worth more than they are.


    1. Sean D. Layton

      I just found a bunch of comments from people who’ve submitted comments before in the Spam folder — I think this was one of them. Sorry! Yes, I totally sympathize! I also hate when people mispronounce things. I have a friend who is a bomb disposal tech in the Army and he pronounces cache (as in weapons cache) as ca-shay instead of cash. Drives me crazy. I tried to tell him the difference between cache and cachet and their pronunciations.


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