Last month, a New York stock trader made a little typo that led to a 1000-point crash in the market! Instead of typing ‘m’ for million, he typed ‘b’ for billion. And in 2006 the ‘case of the costly Canadian comma’ caused quite a stir when a misplaced comma cost a Canadian Cable TV company over a million dollars….
Here are 10 common proofreading errors that could cost you big bucks, big clients or just your reputation:
- Incorrect salutation: ‘Dear Sir’ (proposal written to CFO of Global XYZ Inc., Ms L. Jitterbug).
- Incorrect use of contractions: This just looks tacky and your spell check won’t pick it up – its versus it’s; you’re or your; their, there or they’re.
- Confusing similar words: stationary and stationery; effect and affect
- Punctuation errors: wrongly, placed, commas, and over-use of exclamation marks!!!!!
- Number transposition: Wait till the IRS writes your refund check at $1,900 instead of $9,100!
- Long sentences: If you have to take a breath in the middle of a sentence, it’s probably too long.
- Long paragraphs: An average of six sentences in a paragraph is a good guide.
- Use of technical jargon that confuses the reader. It’s arrogant to expect others to know your industry jargon, unless they’re in your industry. If they have to figure it out, you might lose them altogether!
- Incorrect spelling of names, street, address and so forth. So what if he’s from Papua New Guinea and his name sounds like a new plant species? Learn it and spell it right! Foreign businessmen and women take notice when you learn to pronounce and spell their names correctly. It’s a smart move to get it right!
- Incorrect close: ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘yours sincerely” – If you start with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, then you should close with ‘yours faithfully’. If you start with Dear Ms. Jitterbug, then you should end with ‘yours sincerely’.
Make absolutely sure that you have someone check your written communication before you send it out. Because at that point, it doesn’t cost as much as it could if you let it slip….