Typoes Madder

Back when the earth cooled, I was a student at Florida State University. Go Seminoles. I had a real estate class where the entire semester grade was based on producing one narrative commercial appraisal. Working in a team of four, we spent a lot of time researching, analyzing and writing the appraisal.

Our instructor warned us that for each typo we would lose a letter grade. So we all diligently read, reread and read again the appraisal. After the document was collectively blessed, we eagerly submitted our report. The problem was our market value conclusion (the most important thing to present) had a colossal typo. We concluded to $1,000,000 but the associated text spelled out in caps, OND MILLION DOLLARS. We got dinged an entire letter grade, ouch. Secret: Microsoft Word spell checker ignores words in CAPS by default, presumably to avoid identifying acronyms and initials as spelling mistakes.

Obviously this typo was memorable for me to recall 30+ years later. My friends to this day still say the word “OND” when referring to something that’s wrong. But how much do you care about typos? One time, my wife and I were 400 miles off the US coast in a small sailboat and I noticed our nautical charts had a prodigious typo, “Atlantic Ocan.” I lost confidence. Felt like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

So in business, what do you find acceptable? Jeff Deck, author of The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time gets preachy about the topic. “To me, the iniquity inherent in typos was as plain as a swath cut through virgin forest, or dog feces upon a white beach.” He has been identified as a man on a mission to enforce linguistic propriety. This intrepid author goes on a cross-country typo hunting expedition. He’s annoyed at typos impact on the literary, “The creeping menace of carelessness.”

Carelessness in business. That’s not a topic often discussed. Sure, all appraisers desire typo free reports, the holy grail, along with getting the number right. But in your business, are you being careless somewhere else? Finding a typo (or two) in any report can be disconcerting, but how many typos does it take to say, “We have a problem Houston!” A call to action. Do you have a careless attitude on your productivity? It might be time for a successful implementation of a comp database and report writing software to squash the typo diablo.

Typos can rear their ugly head in many forms of communication: your website, emails and texts with clients, your CV (qualifications) and probably most importantly, your appraisal reports. No appraiser likes to see any of their reports go out with typos. Reviewers don’t like to read them either. If you care about your valuation product, typos should make you somewhat nauseous. Let’s strive to not become complacent. Typo-free reports will make you feel like ond million dollars. Typoes madder.