Mistakes in your menus are serving you up short


Because food-related typos can be particularly amusing – one desert menu I checked recently offered a tasty-sounding lemon poopy cake – I’ve developed a proofreader’s hobby for reading menus.

I was shocked when I started to look at those of various local and national food establishments. From gastro-pubs and chains to quite high-end restaurants, it’s not hard to find an incredible range of mistakes in their a la carte listings:  inconsistent spacing, interchanging commas and full stops as if they are the same; buttered Greens, pees and even table spoonfuls.

You might say, so what? As long as customers know what the food is then fine. Obviously pees means peas – no harm done. And you might wonder if there is some mysterious weight given to Greens with a capital letter instead of greens. There isn’t. In short, random capital letters are just a weird stylistic choice or mistake and it is a scientific fact that they only serve to distract the eye, especially if they are just dropped on random words.

And if you’re wondering what’s wrong with table spoonfuls. It is not spelt as two separate words. As a business professing to know about cuisine, and presumably its terms, those terms need to be correct otherwise how do your customers trust that you actually know about cuisine at all?

And here is the point. It’s the incorrectness of a term you are supposed to get right, the bizarre use of capital letters that not just menus, but many schemes of information presented in the retail and service industries produce, for example, price lists, service options, terms and conditions. Spacing before punctuation, inconsistent use of commas, full stops and colons at the end of menu items…I could, but won’t, go on. You may not consider that any of these mistakes relate to your customers’ interpretation of your menu or their enjoyment of your food, but it is a proven fact that they damage your brand. There is no doubt that detectable inattention to detail, unprofessionalism and a lack of concern all carry through to how customers experience you, which ultimately affects your bottom line.

It is researched and documented that mistakes in your website wording and punctuation either annoy or somewhat annoy over 50% of customers. The logic follows that this also applies to other customer-facing material such as menus.  It’s easy to fix them too, any qualified, experienced proofreader who loves to correct and make messy copy clean will give you a good rate for regular once-overs.

And even if you think you are getting by and the odd mistake doesn’t matter, do remember that just like one famous international fast-food chain, you are only ever one keying error away from advertising delicious anus burgers on your grill specialities.