You don’t have to be a crossword puzzle aficionado to enjoy completing simple or even more difficult puzzles. However, if you keep these easy principles in mind when working on any crossword grid, you’ll most likely have a better time.
Make your work with a pencil. You give yourself the freedom to assume and make mistakes by working in pencil. And, in the end, making mistakes makes you a better puzzler.
Be devoted to your puzzle editor. Stick to puzzles from a single source when you’re initially starting out with crosswords (one book or one newspaper, for example). This will allow you to have a sense of what to expect from the puzzle editor (the person who compiles and styles each puzzle). This familiarity can help you solve puzzles faster.
consider the theme. If a puzzle contains a title, it denotes the puzzle’s theme. The theme usually only applies to a subset of the clues — usually those that need more time to solve — rather than all of them.
First, fill in the blanks. Fill-in-the-blank hints are frequently the easiest to solve, so cracking these first can help you gain a head start on your grid.
Small (three-to-five-letter) word entries should be prioritized. In the English language, puzzle creators just don’t have as many of these short words to select from. As you complete more problems, you’ll get more familiar with the short phrases that constructors and editors frequently employ. You might be able to break open your grid and solve a couple of your more tough hints if you fill these in early on.
Crosswordese.com is a website dedicated to crossword puzzles. This website will introduce you to short, frequently strange English words that puzzle builders adore.
Let’s get down to business. Trivia clues might be simple to solve because they’re usually clear and don’t include any wordplay. Plus, if you get stuck, you can look up trivia solutions in other places.
Abbreviations and acronyms for the eyes. The clue will inform you if an answer requires an abbreviation or acronym. That’s your hint whether you see “Abbr.” in the clue or if the clue is shortened or an acronym. These little hints can once again assist you in answering the more difficult surrounding clues that have stumped you.
Expand your horizons. If the solution is in a foreign language, the hint specifies the language or uses words from that language to let you know.
Select plurals. Look for clues written in the plural form if you’re stuck. Put an S at the end of each grid entry that you know must be a plural word or phrase with a pencil. The S will usually (but not always) be correct.
Make use of outside resources. Most people can’t complete a crossword problem without some assistance. But don’t just type a clue into a search engine; choose your resources carefully. Invest in a good dictionary, thesaurus, quotation resource, atlas, and almanac. You have the option of using hard copies or electronic versions of these sources.
Make a request for assistance. When you’re stuck on a crossword, ask for help from friends or family members to make it a communal experience.
Check off each clue you’ve figured out. Making a note of your progress provides you with a sense of satisfaction and helps you concentrate on the remaining clues.
Don’t be concerned. If a puzzle becomes tedious rather than enjoyable, simply walk away from it and return to it later. After you take a breather, the solutions may come more easily.