Many people think that looking up answers is taboo in crosswords. However, it is perfectly fine to look up a clue when you are stuck! Pay special attention to a clue that has a question mark. This is often a sign that the answer may be a pun or a misdirection.
1. Look at the grid.
Many crosswords use a grid with numbered rows and columns. The answers are entered into these cells according to a clue list. Clues in American-style crosswords are often simple definitions of the answers, or homonyms that fit. These can be a challenge for solvers to sort out. Solving a crossword puzzle involves solving a constraint satisfaction problem. This paper examines two approaches for solving such problems.
2. Look at the answers.
It’s important to look at the answers when you finish a jigsaw puzzle online. This can help you spot mistakes, and it can also help you solve other clues that intersect with those answers. Remember, it’s not cheating to look up an answer if you get stuck. In fact, it’s a good way to learn something new! Also, remember that answers often follow the same part of speech as the clue.
3. Look at the gimmes.
If you’re not sure of an answer to a clue, don’t be afraid to make a guess. Just be sure to lightly pencil in your entries. Pay attention to hints that describe foreign words or phrases. These may be easier to solve because they can help you eliminate other possible options. Also, look for answers that are shorter in length. They usually tend to be easier to solve than longer words.
4. Look at the down clues.
It’s no secret that crossword clues can be difficult. Sometimes it helps to start by looking at the down answers. If you’re unsure about a down answer, try making a guess. Just remember to lightly pencil in your entries so you can change them later. It’s also okay to look up words when solving a puzzle. This can help you understand cluing conventions and expand your vocabulary.
5. Look at the up clues.
Many people think that looking up answers is cheating, but it can really help you to solve a puzzle. But only look up an answer when you absolutely can’t get it from your own mind. Look for answers with the fewest letters first. These words are often easier to guess and spell, which can speed up your solving time. Also, be on the lookout for short words that are made of common letters.
6. Look at the down answers.
While it can be tempting to skip past the down answers, this is a mistake. The down answers are often connected to the across clues, and filling in one answer can help you find others. It’s also not taboo to look up an answer from time to time. In fact, doing so can be a useful way to expand your vocabulary and learn new wordplay.
7. Look at the up answers.
Start with the three, four and five letter answers. These are usually easier to guess and can help you get a good rhythm going. Consider the tense of the clue and answer. Also look for foreign words or abbreviated answers. When you have a good idea of what could fit, fill it in lightly (if using a paper-based crossword) or enter it online. This will save you from getting stuck on a clue later.
8. Look at the down answers.
When you’re stuck, try looking at the down answers. You might be surprised that one of them is related to the clue you’re working on. Often, the down answers are easier to figure out than the across answers. It’s because most of them are “repeaters,” words that appear frequently in crosswords due to their grid-friendly letter patterns. The more you practise this strategy, the better your results will be.
9. Look at the up answers.
A good crossword puzzle will have a few fill-in-the-blank clues scattered throughout. Try to knock these out early so you can build up your confidence level. If you are stuck on a clue, take a break and return to it later. Often when you revisit a puzzle hours or days later, something jumps out at you and leads you to the solution.
10. Look at the down answers.
Even the most seasoned crossword veterans can benefit from a little help now and then. Tap into outside resources, such as a dictionary, thesaurus, quotation resource or atlas, and don’t be afraid to look up an answer. It’s not cheating if you do it properly, and you’ll probably learn something new in the process. Just make sure to pencil in any guessed answers lightly so you can erase them later.