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Those Telltale Typos

"To be or to be." That's how one of the most famous ... in the English language began several years ago in a new edition of ... ... Six ... ... failed to catch

"To be or to be." That's how one of the most famous
sentences in the English language began several years ago in
a new edition of Shakespeare's "Hamlet." Six professional
proofreaders failed to catch the mistake, which received
national publicity and gave the publishing company a red

Similarly, the Wall Street Journal once devoted eight column
inches to ridiculing a conference on critical thinking that
sent out a press release referring to the conference's
"world renown" researchers "in field of thinking" such as
our former surgeon general "C. Everett Coop." (He spells it

And more than bad publicity was at stake when L.L. Bean's
back-to-school catalog invited people to call a phone number
held by a Virginia company instead of the Maine-based mega-
retailer. L.L. Bean paid the Virginia company an unnamed
sum of money (surely six figures) to immediately take over
that misprinted phone number. The cause: someone in the
production department who "knew" that a toll-free number
starting with "877" should really have started with "800."

Typographical errors can have serious repercussions for your
organization. Misspellings and grammatical flubs damage
your credibility, omitted words cause confusion for
customers and numbers that get printed wrongly can prevent
buyers from reaching you. Here are some tips for making
certain that your materials are letter-perfect.

* Let your printouts sit at least overnight before
finalizing them. Rereading after even half a day has lapsed
helps you spot errors you can't find when you've just typed
them in.

* Actually dial all phone or fax numbers to make sure you
haven't transposed digits or worse. It's common for people
to confuse their own phone and fax numbers, for instance.
Test URLs in the same way, and carefully examine ZIP codes
and street numbers.

* In a recurrent publication, like a newsletter, or a letter
you're adapting for a new recipient, make sure you've
appropriately changed all dates and no-longer-relevant
information deep in the piece.

* Confirm the spelling of all place names, company names and
proper names. Often the reference desk of a public library
will check atlases and business encyclopedias for you over
the phone.

* Take another look at stated prices. Missing decimal
points, switched numbers, shipping costs updated in one spot
and not another all bollix up the ordering process.

* Double-check your headlines and any corrections or
additional copy inserted at the last minute. Mistakes there
are hardest to see.

Not convinced that misspellings make a difference? Recently
in Wellesley, Massachusetts, a man handed a bank teller a
note that read: "Give me your 10s and 20s and no die pack."
Distracted by the misspelling of "die" for "dye," the teller
had to reread the note to realize that this was an attempted
stickup. Indignant, she crumpled up the note and told the
guy, "I'm not going to give you any money. Now get the hell
out of here." He obeyedBusiness Management Articles, his message having failed to get

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Marcia Yudkin is the author of the
classic guide to comprehensive PR, "6 Steps to Free
Publicity," now for sale in an updated edition at
and in bookstores everywhere. She also spills the secrets
on advanced tactics for today's publicity seekers in
"Powerful, Painless Online Publicity," available from .

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