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10 Tips and Tricks to Solve Crossword Puzzles

If you enjoy doing crossword puzzles but find yourself becoming frustrated because you can't solve them, this article is for you. Crossword puzzles have been simple entertainment for many years. With more time at home, pulling out the old crossword puzzle book, newspaper, or even playing online is a great idea. So, if you are ready to improve your crossword puzzle success, keep reading!

     1. Focus on Short Words Early 

Often, getting the short two and three-letter words out of the way allows you to concentrate on what is left. Once you fill in these words, you may find that the theme is easier to identify. This will help you ultimately solve the puzzle, especially if there are several two and three-letter words. If you have a puzzle that doesn't have many of these small words, you will need to focus on the clues you can solve to help get some spaces covered on the puzzle.

     2. If the Clue Is a Verb, the Answer Will Have the Same Tense

If the noun is in plural form, you can usually add an "s" as the last letter in the puzzle. If there is an "ing" on the verb clue, then you can probably count on the "ing" being at the end of the answer as well. But remember to be careful with this tactic! Not all plural words end with an "s", for example. Use this trick for guidance and a strategy when stuck, but not as a rule that can always be utilized.

     3. Be Mindful of Abbreviations

Before you can identify the abbreviations (and because abbreviations sometimes have more than one solution), here are a couple points to help you understand this tip. Abbreviations will typically have a period at the end, such as "org.", which stands for "organization", or "fig.", which stands for "figure". This helps you identify when a clue might actually be asking you to solve an abbreviation.

If you don't recognize an abbreviation and need help, you can use www.abbreviations.com to give you more clues and ideas.

     4. Watch Out for Clues with Question Marks

Thoughtful Attractive Young Woman Answering Crossword Puzzle Game on Newspaper at the Living Room Couch.A question mark is a sure sign of uncertainty, and crossword puzzles are no exception. When you see a clue that has a question market, it could mean that you need to think this one through more because it could easily be a trick. It often implies this clue is a sort of riddle and frequently is best left until the end, so you don't put a wrong answer down because you misunderstood the clue. They also often align with the theme of the puzzle, so save it for later and come back when you have more of the letters filled in! 

     5. Beware of Clues with Proper Nouns

It's easy to be tricked by these clues. All clues start with a capital letter. In some clues, the proper name could just be an ordinary word, such as Journey vehicle. Dodge makes a Journey, and a journey is something that you go on sometimes. Give yourself time to study the clues before you write anything down.

     6. Don't Solve in Numerical Order 

It's easy to go to the first clue and want to work your way down the list, but it isn't the easiest way to solve the puzzle. You can always come back to the ones you are stuck on. Every square in your puzzle is interconnected. One letter usually belongs to two words, so you need to create a strategy that will work for you. For example, start in the upper right or left corner of the puzzle. When you run into something you don't know, you can switch over to another corner and do the same thing. You can also start in the lower corners instead if that works for you. 

     7. Take Your Time

Crossword puzzles don't need to be completed in a certain amount of time. Don't worry about finishing it up quickly because when you do, you put a block in your mind, and you think more about the time than you do the puzzle. Slow down and enjoy your puzzles. It can also be very helpful to put it down and come back to it later. Sometimes a fresh mind brings a fresh perspective and you'll look at clues differently than you had before!

     8. Always Use a Pencil

crossword puzzle in pen, white-outWhen a crossword puzzle is attempted with a pen, you can't erase or second guess your answer. What you put down is final, so if it doesn't work out correctly, then you have ruined your chances of easily going back and redoing it. Use a pencil only so you can erase your answers when they are wrong.

     9. When Needed, Loook it Up

Many crossword puzzle solvers feel determined to solve the puzzle instead of looking up and researching for the answer. The clue is just that, a piece of the puzzle that could lead in any direction. Therefore, even if you choose to look it up, chances are, you are not going to find out the solution immediately. If you are completely stuck, do a Google search with your clue and see what other clues you can uncover. As a last resort, there are also websites that collect crossword puzzle clues and answers

     10. Make Educated Guesses

crossword puzzle confusion Sometimes you just need to take a guess at something and take a chance. If it's wrong, then you can erase it and do it again. But what if it's right? These crossword puzzles have a way of making you doubt your own intelligence sometimes, but there is no reason to. Take a chance and make a guess, and if you are wrong, you can erase it and start over. Just be careful not to let your guesses interfere with solving the other clues that intersect that word. If you're unsure, consider a system where you write the answer in smaller or with a different color. 

Other tips can help you as well, such as considering your theme. While the theme is a big clue, it may be too broad to narrow it down and focus on something particular. Watch for homonyms – two words with the same spelling but have two different meanings. Finally, keep a notepad with your crossword puzzles to write yourself down any tips, tricks, or hints that you may run across from time-to-time and you can reflect back on it if you see it again. Crossword puzzles are great for keeping your brain active and giving you a sense of accomplishment when you complete one successfully.

Looking for crossword puzzles? Check out our games page and play new puzzles daily! 

Want tips for other puzzle games? Learn more about how to solve Sudoku puzzles and the benefits of solving them

Let us know in the comments below - what's your best trick to solve crossword puzzles? 

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