How to Create a Crossword Puzzle – 6 Simple Steps

I’m pleased because my first crossword puzzle got accepted by a newspaper and got published. This has proved that someone has liked my skill, and I’m capable of making good puzzle games.

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So, I thought I would like to share some tips on how to create a good crossword puzzle. Enjoy! 

1) The right technology

First things first. Before starting, you should know that you require a good software. Otherwise, the complete process will be unending. So download any software like Crossword Compiler or Crossfire or any program that you like.

2) Deciding the theme

The most important element of any ideal crossword is its theme. The crossword theme has 5-10 answers that are related in some way or the other. For example, at times, the theme will feature answers that have a pun on them. Or sometimes the theme consists of a bunch of similar things like phrases that begin with the same letter ‘A’ or things that scare people. In short, a theme can be anything.

When you are adding a theme to your online crossword puzzle, you have to follow a certain set of rules.

  • Make it symmetrical

In the standard puzzle grid 15×15 squared on Monday-Saturday, 21×21 on Sunday, puzzles have to be symmetrical all the time. This means all the entries should be of the corresponding length.

  • Don’t repeat words

One of the best thing about crossword is that they don’t repeat the same exact words over and over again. This is pretty unique, isn’t it?

So when you are construction an online crossword, make sure you use original words. If you repeat words that your puzzle won’t get published anywhere.

  • No pictures

This one is obvious. You can’t add pictures in your puzzle.

Although you may sometime feel that it is fun to add images or headshots in your puzzle but please don’t do that. Newspapers or online crosswords websites will never publish this type of puzzles.

3) Add black squares

Now that you have finalized the theme, it is the right time to add the black boxes in the grid. Well, this block adding section also has a couple of rules.

  • Symmetrical blocks

Yes, blocks also have to be placed symmetrically. This is self-explanatory like crossword theme.

  • Words can’t be less than three letters

Place the blocks carefully so that all the words in the grid are of three letters or longer than that.

  • Be careful about the word limit

For most of the standard 15×15 online word puzzle, you should have 78 words in your crossword. For an unthemed puzzle, you should have a maximum of 72 words. And in a Sunday puzzle, you can have a maximum of 140 words. Many people have the time to play Sunday puzzles, and this is the reason for the highest number of words.

4) Add the rest of the words

This part takes the maximum amount of time. But it is very important.

5) Write down the clues

Finally, the most interesting step is here! Now when all the answers in the puzzles are confirmed, it is high time you write the clues for them. You see, without clues the crossword puzzle is clueless.

  • Short & crisp clues

When you start writing clues for the crossword puzzle game, try making them crisp and concise. For example, if you want to write a clue about the most common puzzle word “OREO,” you can write one of the following clues:

  •  A diet version of the cookie
  •  Twistable treat
  •  Calorie-conscious food or
  •  anything that refers to crème, cookie filling, black and white
  •  or dip-ability in milk.
  • ØFactually correct clues

 Make sure whatever you are writing in a clue is factually correct else you will be held responsible for spreading any wrong information.

You should never do this mistake. Here are a few wrong clues:

  •  MAINE: America’s worst state
  •  OSS: number 2,4,6, 8, 10, and so on.
  •  ANTE: She married uncle

Make sure all the aforementioned clues or anything similar is a big no-no.

6) Simply send

Finally, it is a time when you have completed your online puzzle in five easy steps, and you are ready to send it. Take a print out of the puzzle, inclusive of your headshot and mail it to the newspaper in which you want it to get published.

And you are on your way to publishing your very first crossword ever.

Best of Luck!