Solving Crossword Puzzles

Part of Crosswords For Seniors For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Solving crossword puzzles is more satisfying if you know key tips and strategies. Attain expertise with crossword puzzles by using these techniques. You’ll be able to tackle any puzzle grid comfortably and efficiently, and increase your enjoyment in the process.

  • Make sure you’re seated comfortably in a well-lit area. It can take an hour or more to solve certain crosswords, so make sure you’re seated comfortably at a table or desk, or in your favorite chair. You don’t want your joints to start aching over a crossword puzzle!

  • Work in pencil. It’s okay to guess and make mistakes. Remember to keep your eraser handy!

  • Stick with puzzles that are easy on the eyes. Even the most fine-tuned eyeglass prescription can only do so much to reduce the strain of looking at a small-print puzzle for a long period of time. Working on large-print puzzles helps keep your eyes from getting strained, and reduces your chance of getting a headache!

  • Start with the fill-in-the-blank clues. They’re often the easiest to solve, and they help get your thought processes ready for more difficult solutions.

  • Focus on small (three- to five-letter) word entries. There just aren’t as many of these short words to choose from in the English language. As you work more puzzles, you’ll get familiar with the short words that are used in puzzles over and over, and it will become another game for you find these in the puzzles and fill them in. The more brain stimulation, the better!

  • Check off each clue that you solve. It’ll give you a sense of accomplishment and help you remember what you’ve already done so you can focus on the clues that remain.

  • Work on more than one puzzle at a time. If one puzzle becomes too frustrating, move away it to another, more satisfying one. You can go back to the frustrating puzzle at a later time, and with a fresher perspective.

  • Keep the puzzle’s theme in mind. Many crossword puzzles have themes, and have titles that hint at those themes. Keeping the theme in mind will help you focus on information associated with the theme, and help you remember clues for solving the puzzle. Another memory booster!

  • Compile a trusty set of resources. Resources can help you find answers to puzzles, and open your mind to fresh information you can use later. Don’t be ashamed to use them. The object is to have fun and stimulate your brain.

  • Keep in mind that those resources can include friends and family members. Solving crosswords doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get solutions from other people. Getting help from others makes solving crossword puzzles more fun, and can help your mind stay sharp.

  • Write out your partial solutions if you get stuck. If you’re trying to solve a Down clue, use that pencil to write out the letters you already know in a horizontal line. Chances are, you’ll be able to better visualize words when they’re written horizontally. This will help jog your memory so you can come up with the solution.

  • Practice, practice, practice! To build muscle and stay in shape, you have to exercise frequently. The same is true of building your puzzling muscle — your brain. Make time for crosswords several times a week if you can.