What is a Crossword Puzzle?

What is a Crossword Puzzle?

A crossword is a type of game or puzzle which can be solved using letters and words. Clues are often listed beside the crossword and arranged in columns headed DOWN and ACROSS to indicate the direction in which the answers should be written. The first letter of each answer should be written in the box with the number corresponding to the number of the clue.

The crossword is complete when all blank squares have been completed to form words which make sense in all directions.

U.S. style crossword puzzle
Fig.1 Typical layout for a U.S. style crossword puzzle

There are many types of crossword puzzle available depending on which country you live in and what newspaper or magazine you are reading. Most crossword puzzles however have some similarities and usually provide sets of clues and a rectangular grid type structure in which the answers can be arranged.

U.K. style crossword puzzle
Fig.2 Typical layout for a U.K. style crossword puzzle

Crosswords come in all shapes and sizes and vary not only in difficulty but also in design. The structure is most usually a grid of squares set within a rectangle. Answers are written vertically or horizontally across a sequence of blank squares, starting at the numbered square which matches the clue. i.e. the answer to the clue designated no. 8 Across, will begin at the square numbered 8 and be written horizontally.

The number of squares can range from a grid 4 x 4, to the largest ever published, in Japan on June 30th, 2016 which was made up of 244,971 squares and measured a phenomenal 12.042 m² or 129.61 ft². The more usual sizes are 15 x 15 up to 25 x 25

The clues are usually contained in number lists outside the grid and close to the puzzle. These are labelled down and across and indicate the direction in which the answers should be written within the grid.