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Tips for Solving Crossword Puzzles

Are you a veteran of the black-and-white squares, a tried-and-true master of the grid? Or maybe it’s been decades since you last gave it a try? Perhaps you’re the type of person who gives the New York Times daily a try every once in a while, but you’re not too bothered with winning? Whatever the case may be, you could almost certainly benefit from a little advice. Scroll down to explore some tips for solving crossword puzzles.

Tips for Solving Crossword Puzzles

Believe in yourself.

Crossword puzzles may sometimes seem like tests of intelligence or vocabulary – and in some ways, they are – but they’re also about reading the clues correctly. Anyone can do that! So embrace your inner optimist, and give it your all!

Use a pencil, not a pen.

Only those who are truly daring will complete a crossword puzzle with a nonerasable pen. Why? Gameplay typically involves extensive erasing and rewriting. So if you feel like you’re erasing a lot, don’t worry! That’s all part of the fun. It doesn’t mean that you’re bad at crossword puzzles. It means that you know how to adapt, which is essential when solving a crossword puzzle.

Tackle the easiest clues first.

Scan through the clues, and knock out all the easiest ones. Not only will this give your gameplay some structure, but also it’ll give you an ego boost! Typically, fill-in-the-blank clues are the easiest. For example: “___ of Oz.”

Confirm an answer by solving the entries that cross it.

If you think you have the correct answer but you’re not positive, attempt to fill in the entries that cross it. You may find that your first idea no longer works logistically. Be flexible, and light on your toes. Sometimes a clue that seems to have an obvious answer will have another logical solution.

Make guesses.

Sometimes when you’re stuck, the only way to move forward is to make an educated guess and see how that affects the puzzle. Lightly pencil in the letters you’re uncertain about so that you know to confirm them later.

It’s okay to look stuff up!

Some people might call this cheating, but are you in a competition or playing a game for fun? If you really can’t nail down an answer, go ahead and look it up. Look at it as a learning opportunity, and try to store it in your brain for next time.

Ask a friend for help.

A crossword puzzle doesn’t have to be a solitary amusement. It’s often easier and more fun to complete a puzzle with the help of a friend. Where you might know all the answers relating to movies and literature, maybe your friend’s brain is crammed full of sports trivia and historical facts. And if you’re in a group, don’t be afraid to ask the room for advice. “Does anyone know a six-letter word for merry play?” This is a great way to spark some conversation.

Take a break.

There’s no rule that you have to complete the puzzle in one sitting. So if you’re struggling, take a break and come back to it later. You might have a whole new perspective on those tricky clues!


What do you think? Will these tips for solving crossword puzzles improve your game? Or were you already a crossword champion? Even if you’re still terrible at solving crossword puzzles, we encourage you to give them a try every once in a while. Not only can they improve your mental flexibility, but also they can help you learn new things and impress your friends!

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