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Spelling mistakes costing British businesses millions

British businesses and banks are losing out on potential sales and customers due to simple spelling mistakes in web copy.

According to an article published in BankingTimes online, research carried out by internet entrepreneur Charles Duncombe found that millions are being lost in revenue by businesses who fail to proofread their copy, or to employ professional copywriters in the first place.

Mr Duncombe, who owns and runs a number of online businesses across the mobile telecoms, retail and travel sectors, said conversion rates – the percentage of visitors to a website who go on to enquire or buy – could be as little as half of their potential.

In support of the findings, the Confederation of British Industry said literacy issues among member companies were becoming increasingly common, and critical. Its head of education and skills noted an increase in the demand for an investment in literacy programmes for employees.

Professional proofreader Andrew Goulding commented: “There are few things more embarrassing for a CEO than to release an annual report with spelling mistakes in it.”

But governments and charitable organisations are also starting to take good literacy seriously, setting aside budget to ensure high standards are met and maintained. The importance of quality copywriting and proofreading and the impact of bad communication was illustrated nicely in a news story from 2010. It stated that the general manager of the Chilean mint, Mr Gregorio Iniguez, was fired after more than one million coins were forged and distributed, bearing a misspelling of the country's name (Chile) as C-H-I-I-E.

Perhaps even more embarrassing was the fact that the error went unnoticed for a year, during which time the 50-peso coins (worth about 7p) were in circulation across the South American country – an expensive mistake. 

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