Signs That Need Your Proofreader’s Eye

Even when I am on vacation, I can't turn off my proofreading eyes. The three signs below, which I spotted in Charleston, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina, got my attention. Can you recognize why? Each sign has at least one error. 

Sign 1 in Charleston 

Womens photo


Sign 2 in Charleston 

Congratulations photo


Sign 3 in Charlotte

Deep fried photo


Please share your corrections in the comments. 

Do you need to improve your proofreading or punctuation skills? Take a free trial of my online Proofread Like a Pro and Punctuation for Professionals courses. They are great programs for summer (or winter if you're down under) self-study. 

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  1. Here are some possible edits:
    Upscale, Women’s Boutique (assuming “Shop” is the name of the store)
    Congratulations, Graduates!
    Deep-fried Milky Way, Deep-fried Snickers

  2. I maintain that signs should not share the same punctuation requirements as print. Signs are designed to quickly impart a message with an efficiency of words, images and symbols. While working as a professional, award-winning signage designer with high profile projects world-wide, I strove to include punctuation only when its omission resulted in misunderstanding.

  3. Hi JBS,

    Thanks for responding to the proofreading challenge. I agree with your comma between the words CONGRATULATIONS and GRADUATES. It’s necessary because the message is directly addressing the graduates.

    And I agree with your apostrophe for WOMEN’S. It’s perfect for a plural noun that does not end in “s.”

    I would not use a comma between UPSCALE and WOMEN’S. In my mind, the adjectives are not equal. I think it’s a women’s boutique that happens to be upscale.

    To test for the need for a comma, ask yourself whether you could insert “and” between the adjectives and have the phrase sound right.

    “Upscale and women’s boutique”? No, probably not. Therefore, no comma.

    I agree with your hyphens for the deep-fried food. I’m still trying to imagine what it tastes like!

    Again, thanks for weighing in.


  4. Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your point of view as a signage designer.

    I would suggest that hyphens such as the one in DEEP-FRIED, and apostrophes like the one in WOMEN’S are integral parts of the word. I would never leave them out. A hyphen doesn’t even take any additional space.

    For the comma between CONGRATULATIONS and GRADUATES, I can see your point. Still, a comma takes up so little room that I would lobby for inserting it and being correct.

    I do hear you, and I am glad you shared your opinion. I’ll be watching for signs that present your point of view.


  5. Lynn, I agree with you regarding deep-fried and women’s. In sign design, often punctuation is left off the end of a line with the line break taking the place of a comma.

    Thank you for your posts. I enjoy reading them.

  6. Our local grocery store, Rosauers, had their name legally changed from Rosauer’s to eliminate the need for the apostrophe between “r” and “s.”


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