Usage and Grammar

Q. I recently edited a brochure that explained services that are friendly to both individuals and families. There was some debate as to whether the services should be described as “individual-/family-friendly” or as “individual/family-friendly.” Which construction makes more sense?

A. And none of your debaters were willing to admit that it’s really ugly either way? Sometimes when a choice is difficult, it’s best to start over. The services aren’t going to seem friendly if the text is scary. How about “services friendly to individuals and families”? Better yet, push the writer to avoid the overused cliché and think of something fresh for your brochure.