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Crossword Submission Guidelines - Tribune Media Services


Crossword Submission Guidelines - Tribune Media Services

Crossword Construction

Dave Fisher

About Tribune Media Services:

Tribune Media Services is one of the most successful international crossword puzzle syndicators. They are in the market for Daily Crosswords (15 x 15), TV Crosswords (13 x 13), Sunday Crosswords (21 x 21), and Cryptograms. Editor: Wayne Robert Williams


The most important feature of a puzzle is its theme. It should be upbeat. Intellectual challenges, pop culture, and humor are prime areas to mine for theme ideas. They must be consistent, including verb tense. Theme entries in puzzles are usually the longest. Every theme entry should have another theme entry in the symmetrically opposite position in the diagram. Avoid overused themes unless you can add a fresh twist. Puzzles with themes related to specific days, such as holidays, are encouraged as well as those using quotations and verses. Be sure to maintain theme-entry symmetry in quotation puzzles.


The words you pick to fill in the diagram are also important. Don't use:
  • Offensive words;
  • Obscure abbreviations;
  • Archaic words;
  • Spelling variations;
  • Uncommon not-used-in-English foreign words
  • Avoid using cheater black squares
Multiple-word puzzle entries are good, but be sure to use complete word groups or phrases that can be defined without having to resort to fill-in-the-blank clues. Examples of good multiple-word entries are: OUT OF IT, ON TIME, STAND UP, and the like. Do not use partial entries that can only be defined with a fill-in-the-blank clue, such as: A TIME, OF THE, ON UP, etc.

Daily Crossword:

  • Size: 15x15
  • Should have a theme*
  • No more than 78 entries
  • No two-letter words (keep three-letter words to a minimum)
Themes must be clear without the need for a title, since THE Daily Crossword will continue to appear without a puzzle title. Themeless puzzles are acceptable, provided the word count is 72 or lower. These puzzles will appear on Saturdays. We have no need for submissions of themeless high-word-count puzzles for our Commuter series of daily puzzles.

TV Crossword:

  • Size: 13x13
  • 90-to-95% of the puzzle entries must be TV-related.
  • No more than 66 entries
  • No two-letter words (keep three-letter words to a minimum)
Every puzzle must have a TV-based theme and plenty of entertainment and pop culture puzzle-words to appeal to a wide range of ages.

Sunday Crossword:

  • Size: 21x21
  • Must be themed and titled
  • No more than 142 entries
  • Use only common, recognizable words.
  • No partial-phrase puzzle entries


  • Each cryptogram must be on a single page, one cryptogram per page
  • Use a typeface with evenly spaced characters
  • Double-space your puzzles to allow room for test-solving
Use all caps when typing the encrypted puzzle. Type the encrypted puzzle, using no "carriage returns." Leave a double return and then type the cryptogram solution. Type the solution in upper and lower case, as in standard letter writing, and again, use no carriage returns. Use correct punctuation in both the original and encrypted text.


Daily Crossword: $50.00
TV Crossword: $35.00
Sunday Crossword: $200.00
Cryptogram: $5.00

Where to Submit:

Submission Format For E-Mail

Preferred electronic submissions are ".cc6" files created using The Crossword Compiler available at: www.crossword-compiler.com Name files ABCDYourname and let the Compiler add the extension. ABCD stands for the first word across in your puzzle. Other programs compatible with Crossword Compiler are also acceptable. These include: AcrossLite, Crossdown, and Crossword Maestro.

With every puzzle submitted, include your vital information in the Crossword Compiler menu choice FILE, selection Information. In the Description box include: your name, address, and social security number. Submit only one puzzle per e-mail.

Submissions should be made directly to: TMSCrosswords {AT} aol.com

UPON ACCEPTANCE AND PAYMENT, ALL PUZZLES BECOME THE SOLE PROPERTY OF TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES. The company retains the right to edit all puzzles as it sees fit. In addition, TMS shall have the sole right to sell, license, or otherwise authorize the use of the puzzles by newspapers published and circulated throughout the world, and in other media, and to take such other action, if any, to exploit the puzzle as TMS, in its sole discretion, deems appropriate. TMS shall have the sole right to publish or authorize the publication of the puzzle in book form, booklet form, pamphlet form, CD-ROM, electronic data base, online electronic services, or in any other form of electronic or mechanical publication or transmission, whether now existing or hereafter developed, and shall be the owner of all exploitation rights in and to the puzzle.

Sources: Tribune Media Services


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