Constructing

Resources for creating crossword puzzles.

Construction advice

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.

Construction tools

I use the cross-platform CrossFire on Mac. It’s one of the most common, alongside Crossword Compiler for Windows.

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.

Need some grid inspiration? Try the Crossword Grid Search tool or Cruciverb’s thematic-based grid searcher.

Wordlists

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.

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.

Submission help

Check out Matthew Stock’s Crossword Publication Specs sheet and the Cruciverb Publisher Specs page.

If you need to submit a PDF of your puzzle, I recommend Nam Jin’s formatting tools (general and NYT-specific).