data or datum?

December 15, 2019 at 11:27 am | Posted in copywriting | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Roll with the punches.

I was editing for my marketing client.

He was writing for his IT client (let’s call ’em ClickBuzz).

In proofing my client’s work, I had a query:

Do you really want to refer to data as singular rather than plural?

I believe this can be a polarising thing among IT types, so am keen to know for sure.

He said:

Please refer to data as singular; I think the term is often referred to like that?

I said:

Yes, common use sure has data as singular these days.

But in my experience, some high-end techies consider it a mark of expertise if you treat data as the plural of datum.

I flag it only because I imagine this brochure is designed to impress prospects (who may ask their internal IT people what they think).

Then again, if such prospects need ClickBuzz, they may have no internal IT people to consult.

In any case, chances are no-one will give a damn in these days of endless emojis and loose morals.

I just figured that if you were to ask ClickBuzz to make the call on how to treat data, you’d demonstrate that you:

  1. Understand IT.
  2. Care about their brand & prospects.
  3. Value their opinion.
  4. Have insane attention to detail (which I believe is crucial in coding).

That could create a warm fuzzy.

If, on the other hand, we make our own call on data and it differs to what ClickBuzz reckons, we may drop an (admittedly probably tiny) notch in their esteem.

And the opportunity to show we’re hip to their groove will be lost.

As always, if I’m over-thinking this, just let me know.

He said:

A detailed rationale! I see where you’re coming from. Let’s treat data as single. If ClickBuzz wants to change it, we can.

It takes grit born of eons to rebound from such a blow.

Crushed, I put on my happy face and said:


Any decision is better than none.

And as long as we’re consistent, I’m a happy camper.

Thanks for listening!

Buzz Click.


So, what do you think?

You know I’m dying to hear!

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by Pete Birkinshaw.


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  1. Detailed as always, PCT! I think common use wins out in this case. Which is not to say that it’s correct, but also to say that it’s correct, if you get my drift. Still, let’s add it to the agendum for next time. πŸ™‚

    • Very good, Ad! Yes, I reckon you and every one except me are right on this one. Thank you for waiting the 2.25 years between posts. I’m humbled to see your support still trending. Kind regards, P.

  2. I would have had one try and given up… only argue with the client if its a matter of law or principle.

    • Well summarised, Winno. As ever, you say so much with so few. Best regards, P.

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