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Start the Game | How to Solve Puzzles | How to Create Puzzles

How to create your own SlideWord puzzles

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Dream your Theme.

A great puzzle has a great theme. Think of a title that is a hint, but doesn't give away your theme. Then make the X words the "punch line" of the theme. The solvers will discover the X words last.
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Choose X-words.

You may need to experiment with the puzzle size, which is determined by the length of the X words. Your X words must have at least one letter in common, and it will try to make them cross in the middle of the words if possible.
  • Words of 7-10 letters make a reasonable sized puzzle, but you can make a larger one.
  • If the puzzle has a lot of one-letter words or is very sparse, you can try shortening your X words.
  • A large puzzle will take much longer to build than a small puzzle.
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Choose theme words.

Try 3-4 theme words to begin with, or more if your puzzle is large. But if you don't get good results, try fewer or shorter theme words. If you use very long theme words, it may have a hard time building a puzzle.
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Wait for the construction.

The computer tries millions of combinations of words, which can take a while depending on the speed of your computer and the puzzle size. You can stop it if you want to accept the best puzzle is has found so far.
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Enter definitions.

Generally you need to be more explicit and obvious than you might think. Here are some good and bad clues for the word "cat":
  • "not a dog" - Bad clue, because there are lots of three-letter words that are not a dog. Don't assume the solver has the same associations as you.
  • "feline pet" - Good clue, because there is no other word that fits the clue better than "cat".
  • "something to pet" - Bad clue because the answer could be many things. The solver usually doesn't have crossing words already in place (like with traditional crosswords), so the clue should not be vague.
  • "tabby or Cheshire" - Good but more difficult, because the solver needs to be familiar with the Cheshire Cat. Don't assume people are familiar with literary references unless you are trying to make a hard puzzle.
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Re-use definitions.

When you happen to have a word that someone else has already defined, you can reuse the definition by clicking on it. (Note: click on "offensive" to flag the definition for removal.)
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Look up the definition of a word.

Don't know a word? Click on "define" to see the definition in a new browser tab. Close the dictionary tab to return to SlideWord.
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Leave some definitions blank.

If you don't enter a definition, the word will be shown to the solver as a free word. Traditional crosswords don't give any words away, but slideword puzzles should have at least a few free words to help the solver get started. If you give ALL the words away, the solver still has the challenge of putting the words together in a grid.
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Publish.

You have a choice of making the puzzle a standard crossword or a slideword puzzle. In the standard crossword, the solver will not slide words at all. Consider a crossword if you used difficult clues. A slideword with three words given in correct positions is usually the best choice because it gives starting clues.

Once you publish your puzzle, anyone else can try to solve it, and you can no longer make changes.
(c) 2010 Ian Ford Software Corporation