When we originally founded Writing Allsorts, our initial goal was to help authors and writers. However, two things convinced us that, perhaps more than authors, small and large businesses alike needed a lot of help with their written and digital communications.
As we traveled throughout the US, New Zealand, England, Ireland and Australia, we couldn’t help but note mistakes on signage, menus, flyers, sandwich boards, and yes, even parking lot and road signs.
But, it wasn’t only spelling errors that we noticed. Often incorrect words were used, improper punctuation, spacing or layout changed the meaning or colloquialisms were used to advertise things to people who had no idea what they meant.
A lot of this we have addressed in our business book, How Not to Fail in Business Without Really Trying. And, in all honesty, many of these mistakes often create a lot of laughs.
However, when you’re in business it can have a major impact on how your customers view and even rate your business or cause them to just walk on by chuckling.
Commonly misspelled or misused words
|there, their, they’re||while, a while, awhile||a lot, allot|
|accept, except||affect, effect||cache, catch, cash|
|principal, principle||loose, lose||Two, too, to|
|buy, by, bye,||dessert, desert||borrow, lend, loaned|
|allusion, illusion||that, which||it’s, its|
|fined, find||your, you’re||conscientious, conscious|
Common phonetically misspelled words
Note: Use of phonetic words can vary widely, and might even be considered proper, depending on the country and/or region your business may be in.)
|lemme (let me)||tho||cuz (because)|
Here, layout and spacing, as well as spelling can easily create some very unique and often funny signs. We’ll start with a sign that was on the board to the entrance of the room for one of Robyn’s training sessions, The Art of Minute Taking.
Use next exit
|We bye used cars||Customer parking only Others will be toad|
|Executive Bored Room||Hunters please use caution when hunting pedestrians
use walking trails
|Slow children crossing
Ah yes, our favorite. (Please note that we will not even go into translation issues, which truly can be an editor’s nightmare and have them laughing till their side aches.)
|green pee soup||Ask about our 0% discount||Homemade pene paste
(should have been penne pasta)
|pickled leggs (eggs)||Fried bum
(we’re not sure what that should have been)
|All meals served with white or whole meat bread
(Colonel Sanders just had a heart attack!)
Okay, so we’ve had enough fun but, we haven’t even touched on color contrast, font that’s hard to read, spacing, size, and on and on. All of which can send the wrong message or no message.
NB: All of the examples given here are real. Some we actually saw and some we took from the Internet, which is full of business communications boo boos.
Seen or had some funny edit issue? Let us know. We always enjoy a good laugh or a puzzle to try and figure out.