What Are the Best Tips for Making Crossword Puzzles?

Sheri Cyprus

One of the best tips for making crossword puzzles is to fill in the longest words first. Filling these in, and creating the clues for them, is often much easier than trying to do this after you write in the smaller words. If you find yourself getting stuck trying to fit words that make sense in between the letters you already have in your puzzle, using a crossword dictionary may help. Remember to keep the solver in mind by making the puzzle interesting and of an appropriate level such as easy, medium, difficult, or challenger. If you're new at making crossword puzzles, it's a good idea to stick with a general overall theme than trying to make the words all related in some way, as this tends to take more advanced puzzle creation skills.

When creating a crossword puzzle, it is often easier to determine the longest words first.
When creating a crossword puzzle, it is often easier to determine the longest words first.

After you've completed some general crosswords, themed puzzles can be fun to try since the subject matter is targeted to a specific interest. Especially when creating crossword puzzles within a theme such as music, science, literature, sports, television, or a certain hobby, remember to use proper nouns to keep things lively. For example, in a science-themed crossword, answers such as Einstein and The Galapagos can be more interesting to write than more general ones such as physics or turtles.

A crossword dictionary may help if a person gets stuck on a clue.
A crossword dictionary may help if a person gets stuck on a clue.

Never lose track of the solver's expectations when making crossword puzzles. You can stay within a particular difficulty level by what you reveal in the clues. Easier crosswords tend to use more straightforward clues such as "a seal's favorite food" or "bass or sturgeon" for the answer fish. A more challenging clue for the same answer could be "what many campers like to do," since the solver would need to have at least written one of the letters in the word or it could be confused with a wrong response such as hike.

Rather than having mainly four and five letter words in your crossword puzzle, consider using at least two longer answers as well as a few shorter ones. If you include some ten letter or even longer words, do these first when making crossword puzzles, then build smaller words from these. Rather than a single word, you could make the longest answers in your crossword two or more word clues, such as the full name of a person or book title. If you get stuck trying to fit a word that makes sense into letters you already have in your puzzle, a crossword dictionary may help. Alternatively, you can run through the alphabet for each space to find the right letters to create an actual word.

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