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Tips On Solving Cryptogram Puzzles

Cryptogram puzzles are very satisfying to solve. However, they can also prove rather tricky and take some time to crack, so they can also be frustrating - just like other tricky puzzles such as cryptic crosswords.

How should you tackle a cryptogram? Well, the first thing to bear in mind is the type of cryptogram you are solving, as they are not all equal. On our site, here at Wordy Puzzle, all the cryptograms are of the same form: each letter from A - Z is swapped for another letter of the alphabet, and that is always used to represent it. So the letter 'A' in the solution (plaintext) could always be represented by, say, 'B' in the code (cryptogram puzzle).

When it comes to solving, you will need to use your knowledge of English, words, and how words are put together to help you solve.

Trivially, you should look out for telltale signs of the vowels: where they tend to appear in words, and so forth. You should also use letter frequencies to help you - just like when you solve a codeword puzzle - and know that letters E, T, A are the most common.

The longer the cryptogram puzzle usually the easier it is to solve, as there is more chance that you can use frequency analysis, formally or otherwise, to guide you towards the first few letters. As with most puzzles, once you have broken the back of it - here by placing around five letters typically - words will just reveal themselves, and the puzzle gets easier to solve, or you can take an educated guess at the answer.

If you see a two-letter word, then think about what it could be - of, it, to, on, or, so an, is, by - are all common options. Look at the list of two-letter words and you'll see that virtually all include at least one vowel, so they are a great way of finding vowels, or at least hinting at what they are. Also bear in mind when you see a three-letter word how often it is a linking word such as 'the' or 'and'. You can also use patterns of repeating letters to narrow down options.

When solving online, you can typically take an educated guess for the 'E', and then see if you can think of any words that fit, for instance if this gives you a word with the pattern E?E??E?.

As we are able to write in the letter you try automatically for every instance of the code letter with our online player, it is much easier to do some trial and error testing to get what seems like a plausible solution to the code. We also reveal who each quote is by, so this can be very helpful in guiding you towards the possible solution too.

Do you enjoy solving cryptograms? Do you have any particular method you find helps? Please do share in the comments section!
Date written: 25 Apr 2015

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