Login:

Password:





Who's online? | Login | Leaderboard | Anagrams

What Makes A Valid Crossword Grid?

What constitutes a valid crossword grid varies from country to country. Here we focus on what counts as a valid grid in the UK.

- Firstly, the grid dimensions should be odd, eg 13 x 13 or 15 x 15; these are the two most common grid sizes. In the vast majority of British newspapers, a quick crossword is 13x13 in size whilst the cryptic puzzle (and general knowledge, if present) is 15x15. There is no absolute reason for this other than convention.

- Secondly, the grid pattern must exhibit symmetry. That is normally rotational symmetry, such that if square one on row one is black then square thirteen on row thirteen must also be black (on a 13x13 grid), and so on.

- Thirdly, it must be possible to move from any white / answer square in the grid to any other answer square in the same grid. In other words no answer, or set of answers, must be isolated from any other answers in the grid. This helps the flow of the puzzle and means that every answer can potentially help with another one. If you had isolated regions, then solving some answers in one region would be of no help whatsoever with solving those elsewhere in the grid.

- Every word must be of at least three letters in length: two letter words are banned by the vast majority of publications. This is mainly because there aren't many of them, and clues would be very uninteresting for them (can you think of an inspiring clue for 'by', 'of', 'in' or 'at'?)

There are a range of other stipulations too that may or may not be imposed by a publisher. These can include a minimum or maximum number of clues for a specified grid dimension. This is usually there to ensure that the clues will fit nicely within the standard space made available for it in the template.

Some publishers might also stipulate that they don't want the grid to have excessive areas of black squares, or in a certain style: for instance a 2x2 block of black squares is usually considered undesirable as it makes that area of the grid look empty; this is why you don't normally see this with published grids.

Very occasionally publishers might stipulate the pattern of crossovers, for instance ensuring that at least every other letter in a word appears in both an across and a down clue, although this requirement is relatively rare.

Finally a publication might have it's own particular set of grid patterns that have been approved for use at some point, and therefore it might actually request you use one of these specified patterns for your puzzle.

Have you come across other stipulations or requirements for your British crossword grid to be accepted as valid by a publisher? If so please do add your experience in the comments section below.

Date written: 07 Apr 2015



Comment on this post

You must be logged in to comment - please Register or Login

Other Blog Posts You Might Find Interesting...

Homophone Clues In Cryptic Crosswords
Cryptic crossword clues, as you'll have seen through this series of blog posts, come in various distinct types, and the list we've covered is not even exhaustive! One of the clue types that people often struggle with is the homophone clue, or...
Added: 13 Apr 2015


General Knowledge Solving Tips
Solving general knowledge puzzles, surprisingly enough, requires a considerable amount of general knowledge. So far, so obvious. But how do you go about getting the knowledge that you require to solve a general knowledge crossword? Well there are...
Added: 20 Mar 2015


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...
Added: 24 Mar 2015


Introduction To Word Fit Puzzles
Word fit puzzles are one of those types of puzzle that have a huge range of different names: you might know it as letter fit, or kriss kross, or indeed as criss cross. Whatever you know it as, the rules are the same: place each word into the grid once....
Added: 24 Apr 2015


What Is A Nina?
Well, the first thing to say about Nina, is that it is a name. But in the context of crosswords, it means something quite different indeed. A nina virtually always only appears in cryptic crosswords, and some authors are well-known for including them...
Added: 05 Apr 2015




Back to Puzzle Blog


Puzzle Types:
Arrow word Puzzles
Pangram Puzzles
General Knowledge Crosswords
Quick Crosswords
Wordwheels
Word Ladders
Word Fit
Skeleton Crosswords
A to Z Puzzles
Codewords
Cryprograms Online
Every Letter Counts