When is a typo (typographical error) more than a typo? A selection of the costliest typos in history

March 27, 2013 by in category Sign Language, Typos with 0 and 1

We’ve all  been there haven’t we? An urgent piece of work needs to be signed off before going to the printers. It gets reviewed by whoever is available at the time. However, due to time constraints and lack of resource, we rarely dedicate enough time to proofread items before printing.  Low and behold, the item comes back from the printer with a glaring error. How did we miss it?

You have probably heard of some of these errors through the “webvine”. Nevertheless, they serve as a reminder of why a triple check is required by an external proofreader who is remote to the copy and can provide an objective review.

  • A trader on the Tokyo stock exchange in 2005 was too quick in typing his order, and ended up trading 610,000 shares at 1 yen each instead of 1 share at 610,000 yen. His simple mistake cost the firm $18.7 million.
  • Penguin published a book called “Pasta Bible”. Inside the book was a recipe instructing cooks to add “salt and freshly ground black people.” This resulted in an urgent recall and a PR nightmare.
  • A clerical error in 2006 is estimated to have cost Italian airline Alitalia $7.72 million USD. According to reports the airline mistakenly advertised a flight from Toronto to Cyprus for the cut price fee of $39 instead of $3,900. By the time the error was discovered 2,000 tickets had been sold and the airline was forced to honour the price.

There are numerous mistakes made on a daily basis in copywriting. The Daily Telegraph has even dedicated a section of their website for amusing and confusing signs sent in by readers. The best signs of the week are displayed here: