A crossword is a word (or number) puzzle that takes the form of a square or rectangular grid of squares.
How to Play Crosswords
There are three major types of crossword puzzles: fill-in, hints, and cryptic.
A fill-in crossword puzzle provides a list of words or numbers that must be fitted into the given grid. This is my favorite type of crossword and I like the number versions.
A hints crossword puzzle provides a list of hints (such as trivia, definitions, etc). The answers to the hints must be fitted into the given grid. This is the most common type of crossword that you’ll find.
A cryptic crossword puzzle is a more difficult type of hints crossword. It provides a list of puzzles (such as riddles, puns, wordplay, etc) as hints. The answers to the puzzles must be fitted into the given grid.
How to Solve a Fill-In Crossword
Fill-in crosswords can use numbers or words.
This example is an 8×8 number fill-in. The same hints and tricks can be used for a word fill-in.
Smallest to Largest
The very first thing I like to do is reorder the lists from smallest to largest. I find this makes the puzzle much clearer.
Look at the number/word lengths. Are there any that have only one? If so, there’s only one place it can go in the puzzle.
The example puzzle has only one number that’s 4 across, one that’s 6 down, and one that’s 7 down.
Fewest Options First
Now it’s time to look at other options. Start with the ones with the fewest possibilities.
For example, there’s a number that’s 5 long at the top. We have two possibilities (21465 and 22276). We already know the second number must be a 2, so know it must be 22276.
The same applies to our other 5-long number. We know the 4th number must be a 6, so we know it must be 21465.
Another way to look for options is to start with the longest words/numbers.
Here we have three numbers that are 4 long, each (2651, 4147, and 7215).
Find the options on the grid and fill out any numbers you can. For this example, all three numbers are easy to put in the right place!
Along the way…
As you fill in the grid, you’ll find yourself filling in some additional numbers/words. Make sure you cross those off your list!
In the example, we’ve already found four of our 2-long numbers (11, 14, 57, and 74).
Can you finish?
That’s about it! Sometimes you might need a little bit of logic to figure things out but there’s no “secrets” here.
Can you finish the puzzle?
The solution is at the end if you want to check it out!