A real-space description of inelastic scattering in scanning transmission electron microscopy is derived with particular attention given to the implementation of the projected potential approximation. A hierarchy of approximations to expressions for inelastic images is presented. Emphasis is placed on the conditions that must hold in each case. The expressions that justify the most direct, visual interpretation of experimental data are also the most approximate. Therefore, caution must be exercised in selecting experimental parameters that validate the approximations needed for the analysis technique used. To make the most direct, visual interpretation of electron-energy-loss spectroscopic images from core-shell excitations requires detector improvements commensurate with those that aberration correction provides for the probe-forming lens. Such conditions can be relaxed when detailed simulations are performed as part of the analysis of experimental data.