Top 10 Tips for Solving Crossword Puzzles


Use a Reference Book

Don't feel bad about opening up a reference book.
Don't feel bad about opening up a reference book.

There's absolutely no shame in relying on a reference book. Some of the primary benefits of crossword puzzles are expanding your own knowledge and vocabulary. If you've solved all of the down clues in one cluster but one of the resulting across answers isn't a term with which you're familiar, pull your trusty Oxford English Dictionary off the shelf. You'll either find out that the word is correct and add something new to your phraseology, or you'll discover that some of your down answers need rethinking. Other reference books, like a thesaurus or encyclopedia, are equally useful. After all, if you knew every crossword answer without even trying, it wouldn't be as fun -- and you wouldn't have a new nugget of trivia to bandy about at cocktail parties.

For lots more information on crossword puzzles and other games, see the links below.

Realted HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Website. (March 15, 2010)
  • "Crossword Strategies." (March 17, 2010)
  • Christie, Nancy. "Staying Sharp: Electronic Games and Exercises to Fight Memory Loss." Sept. 18, 2008. (March 17, 2010)
  • Creadon, Patrick, dir. "Wordplay." The Weinstein Company. 2006. (March 23, 2010)
  • Jensen, Sik Cambon. "Brief History of Crossword Puzzles." American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Website. Feb. 1997. (March 15, 2010)
  • The New York Times. "Wordplay: The Crossword Blog of the New York Times." (March 16, 2010)
  • Oxford English Dictionary. (March 24, 2010)
  • Sayles, Philip J. "Free Help in Solving Crossword Puzzles." Crossword Phrase Dictionary. (March 19, 2010)


How Khet Works

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Khet is a strategy game like chess, except with lasers. Learn about the board game Khet in this article.