This is my favorite story on brevity.
An apprentice hatter was about to open shop for himself. His first concern was to have a handsome signboard. He composed the words, “John Thompson, Hatter, makes and sells hats for ready money.” The image of a hat was included.
He thought he would submit it to his friends for amendments. The first man thought the word “hatter” was redundant, because the words “makes” and “hats” showed he was a hatter. The word was removed. The next man observed that the word “makes” should be omitted, because customers wouldn’t care who made the hats. A third man thought the words “for ready money” were useless, because it was not the custom to sell on credit. “Sells hats” exclaimed another man! No one expected that the hats would be given away. It was stricken out.
So the inscription was reduced ultimately to John Thompson with the figure of a hat.