Resources for creating crossword puzzles.
The New York Times’ How to Make a Crossword series is the definitive starting place. Read it first.
The Cruciverb’s Sage Advice series is similarly worthwhile, written by various well-known constructors.
Another must-read is Patrick Berry’s Crossword Constructor’s Handbook. For $10 you get his book (used to be a For Dummies book) and a load of example puzzles.
Cruciverb also provides a useful quick reference on the various theme types.
There are many web-based options. Crosshare is my favourite: it’s got an active developer, positive community and allows you to embed your puzzles on your own site (like I do here). Phil is another popular option.
A clue database is mandatory and the industry standard is Matt Ginsberg’s Cluer.
Below are some of the most popular wordlists for use with your chosen construction software. I’ve ordered these by personal preference. (€) indicated a paid list.
- XWord Info (€)
- Cruciverb (€)
- Alex Boisvert’s Collaborative Word List Project (€, also on Github?)
- Mark Diehl’s version of Peter Broda’s list (pared down and calibrated scoring)
- Chris Jones’ scored wordlist
- Peter Broda’s wordlist (scored and unscored versions)
- Crossword Nexus (direct download link)
There are various other wordlists you can use if you’re trying to construct for a specific niche (by adding words or adjusting scores for words in a specific lexicon) or to expand into an area where the above wordlists may be weak. One that everyone should use is Erica Hsiung Wojcik’s Expanded Crossword Name Database, helping us all create more diverse and inclusive puzzles.
If you need to submit a PDF of your puzzle, I recommend Nam Jin’s formatting tools (general and NYT-specific).