What are the Different Types of Crossword Puzzles?

Crossword is ‘magic of words’ that keeps you engaged with numbers, words and clues. You can fill the grid boxes thinking them to be the correct answers. Well, over the years, ingenious hands have designed clever puzzles that have made more players to sweat. When you see the empty black and white grid, you have the urge to fill them.

crossword puzzles

Crosswords have nothing to do with age. There can be solved by a kid, an adult or an elderly person. Solving one is a social activity. Most of you love the idea of sipping coffee and solving crossword side by side. Online crosswords are more popular than newspaper ones. Nowadays, individuals solve it on their digital devices like laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablets. Some speed lovers like to time themselves while they solve crossword puzzles online.

Different crossword puzzles are designed to entertain the solver. And, there is always a well-defined solution for it. So, you must be thinking why I am talking about designing a puzzle? It is because there are various types of crossword puzzles which most of you are unaware of.

Here are the different types of crossword puzzle games

Let’s have a look at them:

  1. Cryptic puzzles: These different type of puzzles are usually referred to as “designer puzzles” and are mostly found in escape rooms and quality puzzle hunts. The answers to these puzzles are well-defined. You can find your clue and answer the puzzle. The tricky part of these puzzles is that the answers are left for the solver to guess at various interpretations. The solver needs to think what the puzzle could mean until one answer fits. These puzzles are designed by experts as they have complete knowledge of the audience. Different level of difficulty along with the varied genre makes these puzzles high-quality and everyone’s favorite!

Cryptic Crosswords have taken standard crossword up a notch as there are clues that read like scrambled poetry. When you move in the right direction, nothing seems impossible. Cryptic crosswords are a little tricky and challenging to grasp. The clues don’t have the literal meaning but give a hint regarding how to solve the puzzle and find the right answer. You have to be very clever to find hidden clues and related answers.

Here are the different types of cryptic crosswords and they can be further divided into three broad categories:

Blocked grid

This one is something many of you start thinking when you hear the word ‘crossword’. A grid of squares where the end of words and spaces between words are marked by random squares being filled in that forms a block. Generally, the grid format is 15 squares by 15 squares. But this is not obligatory and may vary. A general 15×15 puzzle has approximately 30-32 words in it.

Barred grids

They are quite different from the one mentioned above. The word end and divisions are marked by bars. The standard size of the puzzles is 12 squares by 12 squares. But the higher the proportion of letters in every answer is verified by crossing answers. The words are dense, intelligently packed. So, even if the grid seems smaller, the puzzles have around 32-36 correct answers within them. The vocabulary is usually more recondite when compared to the blocked grids and is usual for a reference to be given.


Thematics are usually barred but they are not necessarily a square-some rectangle, some circle and some are randomly setups in a double L shape. So, the design may vary. Well, as the name implies, this type of cryptic crossword is based on a theme. The theme sometimes dictates the shape or the available words encourage the usage of the rectangular grid. Often the clues have interesting twists-misprints or ignoring a few letters of the answer in the wordplay or so on. The best method to understand the diversity of this type of puzzle is to experience it by yourself as you solve. This a bit steep but an exhilarating learning curve.

crossword puzzles

  1. Sudoku puzzles

The puzzle is so popular that its origin and meaning needs a little bit of your attention. Let me make this clear first, Sudoku is a puzzle game is designed for a single player. The puzzle is nothing more than a grid of little boxes called cells. Usually, they are stacked nine high and nine wide, making 81 in total. The puzzle comes half of them already filled so that the players get the clue.

Earlier, Sudoku was quite a similar game to the European puzzle ‘Magic Squares’ that were played in the 18th century, Well, the name is abbreviated from the Japanese ‘suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru’, that means the numbers or digits must remain single.

Although there are a number of Sudoku that has been developed over the past years, the straightforward extension on the original idea remains the same.

Grid Size Sudoku

The simple 9×9 is just the beginning. There is no size limit of the puzzle. The puzzle can be simpler and smaller, larger and harder to solve. Just by changing the grid size of the game, the complexity changes drastically.

Word Sudoku

When letters are used in place of numbers, it becomes word Sudoku. Often it is a nine letter word in a row or column. They are comparatively easy to solve. They are one of the easy crossword puzzles.

crossword puzzles

Abstract Symbols Sudoku

Going one step ahead of letters, words and numbers. Abstract symbols can also be seen in Sudoku. Symbols can be astrological symbols, zodiac signs and any other type of symbols that are used by the natives or known by peoples internationally.

Jigsaw or Squiggle Sudoku

In normal Sudoku, the region throughout the puzzle has an identical shape, either a square or a rectangle. But in Jigsaw Sudoku, regions have varied shapes, but every shape has to be contiguous having the same number of squares. The strategies do change a bit. The basic strategy is given a twist, is overhauled and the shared subgroup exclusion rule needs to account for the individual pattern that overlaps.

crossword puzzles

Finally, Sudoku puzzles have become immensely popular across a wide range of generations and nationalities. The major reason is that there is no specific skill set required and it also eliminates the language barrier to a certain extent.

  1. Trivia puzzles: They are puzzles as they have custom designs. To solve these puzzles, the player must have some domain knowledge or the intelligence to grasp a new topic quickly. There are many fun puzzles that begin with “research” and end into another trivia. Hence, the solver needs to discover the initial puzzle only to open some other different type of word puzzle games once the answers are filled in. Basically, you need to sharpen your brain to play trivia crossword puzzles online.


  1. Word puzzles: Word search puzzles are easy if you have knowledge of a language. Most of the word puzzles are in English since everyone is familiar with the language. The nature of these word puzzle games is mathematical. Let us say, there are 80 ways to permute the letters. In a four-letter word without repeated letters, there are 64 possible three-letter words in a 4 by 4 grid of letters. So, a complete mathematical approach is used to construct these puzzles. Usually, word puzzles based on definitions have a bit of flexibility. Also, they can be logical too! No prior knowledge of word is required. Instead, solvers just need to simply use the logic to find how these words can be filled in the grid.

crossword puzzles

  1. Diagramless crosswords: Diagramless crosswords are also called skeleton crossword or carte blanche. They provide a special type of satisfaction that normal crosswords can’t manage. It is a logic puzzle on top of a word puzzle.  These crossword puzzle games offer overall dimensions unlined their name. The trick lies in the location of clue numbers and shaded squares since they are unspecified. Hence, the solver needs to find the answer and also to look where the built-in and large clumps fit in with the shaded squares. Diagramless puzzles have far more blocks than normal crosswords. It can differ in the symmetry from crossword to crossword. If the symmetry of the grid is provided, the solver can use this as an advantage. Symmetry can be a normal rotational type or it can be left to right. Non-symmetric grids create a type of pattern that you have to determine. These type of puzzles always have themes. All in all, these puzzles are the real challenges and tough to solve for a crossword beginner.


  1. Codeword Crosswords

This one is a complete crossword grid where each letter of the alphabet is substituted for a number (usually 1-26). There is a minimum one occurrence of each letter of the alphabet. There are few letters given as starters. The solver has to decipher the rest of the code to discover the words in the completed puzzle.

This online crossword is easy to solve with word endings, double letters and likely position of most used letters in the English language. A standard code cracker generally gives three starter letters. The answer words are recognized from the letter combinations, not from the deduced clues as there are constraints on the words used.

If you are a frequent crossword solver, you must have experienced the twists that are being introduced time and again. Do you agree that these puzzles entice one to dive in the beautifully crafted world of words? And if you don’t play, go ahead and try a few free crossword puzzles. The game not only helps you get the best time of your life but some of them also make you win cash prizes.

I hope you got to learn about something new about these kinds of puzzle games. Try online crosswords games and let me know which one you found interesting. And, for the ones who have already played all these puzzles, let me know which one is your favorite?