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Crossword Construction

Dateline: 04/20/97

crossword construction
I'm sure many crossword puzzle solvers have considered creating their own puzzles. However, filling a 'wide-open grid' (not too many black squares) with interesting words and without resorting to 'crosswordese' (hackneyed, obscure words or partial phrases) is a feat requiring blood, sweat and tears... and a room full of reference books!

cw programs
Don't throw out your dictionary but today there are many programs which create and print professional looking crossword puzzles. Best of all, they can automatically fill the grid leaving you to wrestle with the clues. At last! The computer is doing something useful! But before you rush off to download, you might want to do a little homework.

shop around
In the coming weeks I'd like to present some of the software available to crossword constructors. All puzzle programs are not created equal. The grid filling capabilities of the various programs are dependent on the wordlists that come with the package. Some are better than others but even the most extensive will have to be updated and expanded to remain current and to improve the program's puzzle making capabilities.

Here are some programs to consider.

  • Crossword Weaver
    Creates newspaper-style and free-form crossword puzzles automatically - and publishes them on the World Wide Web. For Windows or Mac.

  • Crossdown Crossword Puzzle Software
    This program, from Sam Bellotto Jr., allows you to create and print puzzles in various formats. Also displays any on-line puzzles using the .XWD extension.

  • Crossword Compiler for Windows
    A powerful program with advanced features for serious constructors. Generates grids and has automatic fill capabilities using word lists in an expandable database.

I'll be bringing you feedback on these and other programs, as well as tips from the pros on how they create puzzles.

You've created a masterpiece. Now what?
If it's truly spectacular, you might offer it to a major publication.
Such as...

  • new york times

This link will provide you with a style sheet for puzzle submissions.

In future editions I'll tell you about other possible markets for your puzzling efforts.

Got a puzzle you'd like to share with others? Try this site.
The folks here will give you valuable feedback for honing your cruciverbalist skills.

If you're a novice and need some basic pointers on how to go about making your own puzzles, check out these helpful on-line tutorials. Remember. They're written by people who, like yourself, at one time had never successfully constructed a crossword!

Introduction to Crossword Creation
A tutorial on crossword construction from the folks who brought us Crossdown Crossword Puzzle Software. Recommended.

I hope you'll be a regular visitor to this site.
Your comments and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.

With your input this crossword feature will be a growing success.

Until next time, HAPPY PUZZLING!
a puzzler's pencil dies young

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