Is it kid’s meals or kids’ meals or kids meals? That was the sticking point in November, when we published our annual “Kids Eat Free” directory.
Today, as I assembled seven proofreaders’ corrections to our June issue, there were questions about colons, capitalizations and hyphens.
One of my proofers noticed inconsistencies in how we were treating the first word following a colon. The rule is that a complete sentence following a colon requires a capitalized first word and a list (of words or phrases that are not complete sentences) does not. So this is correct:
What they found caught my attention: Men who had good memories of their relationships with their fathers while growing up better handled the stresses of adult life. (This is from a story about how dads can build good relationships with their children.)
And this is correct:
Other examples of adaptations: placing extra straps and pads on wheelchairs and walkers or re-wiring toys so a child who is unable to manipulate them can interact by touch or use a communication device… (From a story about Southwest Human Development’s new A.D.A.P.T. store.)
Moving on to our capitalization dilemma. When is a father “Dad” versus “dad”…?
Dad is capitalized only when used as a proper noun. So it’s “a dad” or “my dad” or “time spent with dad” (because you’re not talking about a specific dad but instead using the word as one would use the phrase “a dad”) … but “Dad (as in my dad, the guy I call “Dad” ) and I love fishing.”
Another capitalization catch: Our resident Francophile Mary Ann Bashaw noticed that we had used “french doors,” not “French doors” in a description of amenities at a hotel listed in our June issue’s directory of family-friendly resorts. The capitalized version is correct, as is French toast and French fries and French pedicure.
Another story in our June issue mentioned a “six-and-a-half pound baby.” It was missing a hyphen and should have been “six-and-a-half-pound baby.”
Enough for today. And by the way, it’s “kids meal.”
“Kid’s meal” means a meal that belongs to one child. “Kids’ meal” means one meal that belongs to a bunch of kids (and I would not want to negotiate that sharing lesson). “Kids meal” means a meal planned/prepared/priced (or whatever) to be appropriate for kids.