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This Sign Needs Help

I’ve cropped the store’s name and email to save it the embarrassment. I hope the staff takes a proofreading course during closure!

How many errors can you find?

Notice to proofread



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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

20 comments on “This Sign Needs Help”

  • Hi Virginia and Kelly,

    I was thinking of the same three errors you spotted–3 of 19 words misspelled! Yes, we could add a couple of periods and a comma, but the spelling is the craziest part.

    Thanks for commenting.


  • I found three glaring errors but I’m sure you’ll tell us more! First, they have “an” instead of “any”, inconvenience is spelled wrong, and “Inquires” should be “inquiries.” Don’t even get me started on commas!

  • Hi Lynn,

    I can find 5 errors: 2 spelling errors (inconvenience and inquiries), 2 grammatical errors (passive: be reopened, be continued) and 1 with regards to content (upon -> after).

    This would be a revised example:


    Kind regards

  • Hi Paul,

    Thanks for taking this challenge seriously. I’m saying yes on the two spelling errors–good catches.

    But changing active verbs (“reopen” and “continue”) to passive ones (“will be reopened” and “will be continued”) is not a good idea. It makes the sentences wordy and indirect. Please reconsider that idea.

    Similarly, “caused” feels passive. I suggest dropping it.

    If you want to read more about my take on passives, check out this post:


  • Patty, replacing “continue” with “resume” is an excellent edit.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  • Hi Nathalie,

    I’m smiling at your enthusiasm. The errors I focused on were the spelling of “inconvenience,” “inquiries,” and “any” (as “an”).

    Punctuation would also make the sign clearer, but its absence seems to be intentional rather than accidental. But lines like “Inquires please contact” come across as sloppy.

    Did you find the same errors?


  • Hi Bart,

    That IS the question. When I am dealing with a service professional, I always back off when they make mistakes in the small details. However, this sign was from a jewelry store. As long as the jewelry and the prices seemed good, I would shop there–but I would carefully check the bill!

    Thanks for commenting.


  • Hi Lynn!
    Your killing me! What is the answer? I see what everyone else is seeing. Is it the sentence structure?Where do you reveal the answer so that we can learn from this?

  • The real question is: would you buy from these people? If they cannot produce a sign, how adept can they be in business?

  • Hyphen should be required in between “reopen” like “re-open”.

    an inconvenience should be corrected as “the inconvenience”

    Spelling error found in “INCONVIENENCE”.

  • Hi Senna,

    There’s no need for a hyphen in “reopen.” Readers can easily recognize the word without confusing it with another word.

    You are right about the spelling error. Please see the comments above.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  • hi Lynn,

    Thanks for correcting me.

    What about using “the” instead of “an”.

    Further, I was told by one person that;

    “Sorry, the inconvenience caused” is the correct way and “Sorry for the inconvenience caused” is incorrect. He mentioned that “for” is not necessary. Is that correct?

  • Hi Senna,

    “The inconvenience” is fine.

    Your person’s advice is wrong. If you understood him correctly, I suggest that you not take advice from him about English. “For” is necessary.


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