Get help with Crossword Puzzles: Crossword learning tutorial

  • Help with crossword puzzles

We would like to start at the beginning and take our readers through a brief

crossword learning tutorial.

A crossword is basically a word puzzle with a square or rectangular shaped grid

and blacked out spaces. (refer to the diagram below).

The primary goal or objective for any crossword game is to fill in the empty

squares with letters, building words both across and down , in response to

the numbered clues provided. ( The shaded squares act as breaks to

separate the words or phrases.) Squares in which answers begin are

usually numbered. The clues are then referred to by these numbers and a

direction, for example, "3-Across" or "15-Down".

At the end of the clue the total number of letters is sometimes given.

Some crosswords will also indicate the number of words in a given

answer. (Such as : A nickname ( 2 wrds). )

Here is a short list of crossword terminology which may further your

understanding and provide help with crossword puzzles.


Entries: the white spaces or cells where the answers are written.

Clues: The numbered clues , sometimes called definitions.

Checked: A white cell that has both across and down clues, also called keyed,

or crossed.

Constructors, compilers: Individuals who design the daily crosswords.

Below you will find additional help with crossword puzzles, including hints,

strategies and tips.

Hints, Strategies, Tips

Here we break down the types of clues most often used which should help with crossword puzzles solving.

Types of clues:

  • Straight or Quick: Clues which are simple definitions and yield simple answers.
  • Consistent: Clues and answers should always agree in tense and number.For example if the clue is in the past tense ,so is the answer. Thus "Arrived by plane" would be a valid clue with solution: "FLEW"
  • Fill-in-the-blank :Often the easiest to solve ( great place to start ). For example :____ McCartney = Paul
  • Question mark clues:These can be tricky, and usually signify that the answer may be a pun or wordplay.
  • Colloquialisms (slang):Have been used more and more frequently,words or phrases like: What's UP, AS IF, or WHADDYA WANT.
  • Abbreviations: In some cases a constructor may choose to clue certain answers SEN ( as in abbreviation for "Senator") as"D.C. bigwig: Abbr."
  • Use of variant spellings: The use of "Var." indicates the answer is a variant spelling. (EMEER instead of EMIR).
  • Use of foreign language:

    Typically a clue with foreign language or place, indicates the answer may be in a foreign language as well. For example,ETE (été, French for "summer") might be clued as "Summer, in Paris.

  • Roman numerals, and arithmetic involving them: Roman numerals, and arithmetic involving them, frequently appear as well; the clue"V by CLIV"would yield"DCCLXX".
  • Indirect clues: In many puzzles, some clues involve wordplay and are to be taken metaphorically or in some sense other than their literal meaning, or require some form of lateral thinking


"Half a dance"could clue CAN (half of CANCAN)

or CHA (half of CHACHA).

"Start of spring"

could literally clue MAR (for March) but could also clue ESS (the spelled-out form of the starting letters).

Word of the Day

Article of the Day

Quote of the Day


Common Words and Phrases:

To further provide help with crossword puzzles attached below and viewable

in PDF format is a list of common crossword words and phrases, called

Crosswordese ( click here to view full article in wikiepedia )


Below is a chart for roman numerals, which are commonly used in crossword puzzles.


Standard Roman numerals run from 1 to 3999, or I to MMMLXXXIX.

The first ten Roman numerals are:

The following table shows the numerals commonly used in crossword puzzles.










1 (one) (unus)

5 (five) (quinque)

10 (ten) (decem)

50 (fifty) (quinquaginta)

100 (one hundred) (centum)

500 (five hundred) (quingenti)

1,000 (one thousand) (mille)

For numerals representing values equal to or greater than 4000, a line is placed above the numeral.


These resources will also be beneficial to your online crossword help:

From Help With Crossword Puzzles to Online Crossword Puzzles

From Help With Crossword Puzzles to Puzzle Games Online