When saving on a proofreader is a false economy

Now that the brouhaha over the RBA’s apparent inability to pick up a typo in an entire batch of newly-minted pineapples – the fruity vernacular for a $50 note – has died down, it’s timely to ask, “Just how could this have happened?” With remarkable ease, apparently. All it takes is an absence of the proofreading process.

For the benefit of anyone who’s been holidaying on Mars, the recent currency fiasco which left Australia’s central bank distinctly red-faced occurred when it was revealed that each of the 480 million $50 notes in the RBA’s latest print run contained not merely one, but an impressive three mis-spellings of “responsibility”. The offending typos appeared in a micro-text quote from Australian political great, Edith Cowan.

Armed with an industrial-grade magnifier and asserting a firm wish to remain anonymous, it was a keen-eyed spelling enthusiast (or possible counterfeiter) who initially contacted breakfast radio to query if, in fact, the spelling error was deliberate; perhaps a “new security feature”? But the answer was nowhere near anything so exciting.

In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, RBA manager, Luke Porter, explained that the typo slipped through at Note Printing Australia when “Cowan’s quote was manually re-typed into graphics software” which (worryingly) had “no spelling or grammar check.” Mr Porter went on to say that the banknote had been “inspected by printers, Banknote Projects and Banknote Quality before being overseen by the designer and independent designer.” Note the glaring omission of any mention of a professional proofreader from that comprehensive list.

Making a valiant attempt to downplay the incident, Mr Porter claimed, “No one died.” Cold comfort perhaps to the many Note Printing Australia staff who were apparently “mortified that the error occurred” and “were really beating themselves up about it.” And that’s the important point here. A silly mistake has effectively taken the shine off this company’s excellent work in keeping the good citizens of Australia in crisp new banknotes, instead throwing an unflattering spotlight only on what they got wrong.

Be warned: Your company may experience similar unwelcome public humiliation should you dispense with a formal proofreading process prior to publishing your own important business documents. It’s true that unlike the RBA, who now has $24 billion worth of embarrassment to deal with, your business’ errors may be significantly smaller. But there will be errors nonetheless and someone – perhaps many people – will notice. Is it really worth the risk to your commercial profile?

A professional proofreader will spot not only glaringly obvious errors, but ones you and your team may never have realised were there. Highlighting pesky spelling mistakes, poor grammar, unnecessary repetition, ambiguity and more is all part and parcel of a proofreader’s day.

If you’d like your clients to focus on your message rather than your spelling, get in touch with Proof Communications. We’re the experts in helping entities of all sizes and across all industries produce business documents that support their brand by being easy to read and error-free.

For help with copywriting, proofreading or editing any of your business documents, contact Proof Communications on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216 or head to the contact page.

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