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Introduction To Cryptogram Puzzles

Cryptogram puzzles can look quite intimidating to start with. They present you with what looks like total gobbledegook, but is in fact simply a piece of intelligence English that has been scrambled, in a particular way.

Here is how the scrambling process takes place:

- Each letter in the source text (that gets scrambled) is swapped randomly with another letter in the alphabet. For instance, A might be swapped with E.

- Every instance of that letter in the source text is swapped with the random letter

- This process is repeated for every unique letter in the source text. Note that each code letter is only used once. So if we use E to represent the letter A, as mentioned above, then E will not represent any other letter.

This final point is very important to understand as it means we know that every letter in the code represents exactly one letter in the source text, and that every instance of the letter in the source text is represented by this letter in the code.

And that is all you need to know about what a cryptogram puzzle is on this site. It is worth noting that whilst cryptogram puzzles seen published in books and magazines usually use this same format, there are lots of different ways of encrypting the plaintext, so if you encounter this puzzle type elsewhere, do read the rules carefully in case some other sort of substitution has been used instead.

Also look out for some puzzles where a letter can represent itself, which is perhaps a little devious! Our player makes the whole process a little easier because when you enter a letter that you think you have worked out, it will replace every instance of that letter in the code with the letter you chose for the plaintext, thus helping you keep track of what's what in the solving process, and enabling you to see straightaway if the letter choice you've made looks reasonable or not.

For tips on solving cryptograms, you might like to read our article about how to tackle these tricky teasers elsewhere in the Wordy Puzzle blog.
Date written: 24 Mar 2015

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