What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

I wonder what goes in this space?


Typo in Tokyo

What is the cost of a typographical error?

How about 40 billion yen ($343 million)? That's how much a trader at Japan's Mizuho Securities cost his employer when he entered a computerized sell order on the Tokyo Stock Exchange for 610,000 shares of a newly issued stock at 1 yen apiece, rather than 1 share at 610,000.

Heads pretty much always roll in Japan when bad stuff happens, and indeed the president of the stock exchange has resigned over the incident. No word yet on who the trader was or what's happened to him.

But for editors like me, the moral of the story is clear: People who think they can't afford to have someone check their work—or worse yet, people who think they don't need their work checked—are wrong. Your mistakes may not cost you $343 million, but they will cost you something. Readers of your ad or marketing copy might not buy your product because you were unclear about its benefits. Your proposal might be rejected because it was vague. Your insights might go unappreciated because you buried them under wordiness.

Those are the costs of miscommunication. Instead of paying them, try investing up front in improved communication. Then at least you'll have something to show for the expense, and at best your written work will get you closer to your goals. So hire an editor—me, for instance. Editors don't bite, and we might even have some tips on hot Japanese stocks.


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