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Brace for impact…

July 22, 2006
The most overused word in all of Microsoft is impact. It’s not only overused, it’s usually used improperly. It’s always bugged me, but this week I heard it so many times that I wanted to scream. I decided to look it up in Encarta and I found a nearly perfect explanation for my distress, so I’m just going to paste it in here:

Many careful writers strongly dislike the verb impact in any figurative sense whatsoever, as in The revised budget impacts the university unfavorably and The revised budget impacts on the athletic program. Though the verb in senses extending beyond the infliction of physical force is undeniably common in business, legal, journalistic, and political discourse, anyone who hopes to achieve an effect even faintly literary should avoid it in favor of affect, change. Use of the verb is uncontroversial only in physical senses: The car impacted the railing. By the same token, the noun impact should not be used as a catchall alternative for words like effect or impression; rather, it should be used to convey the idea of powerful, dramatic consequence: The sudden rise in prices had a calamitous impact on many economies.

Before anybody gets the wrong idea, I’m not some sort of grammar nut. (As anyone who reads my blog will know.) This is purely a Microsoft culture thing.

Ah, that feels better. Now we can all move forward. 🙂

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