Puzzle Tips

Whether it is a birthday, anniversary, family reunion, or any of an abundance of other reasons ( click here ), a crossword puzzle, personalized for the event, tells the person, couple or group how much they are thought of – and immortalizes the special event in a fun way.

Whether you want to have Personalized Crossword Puzzles create your puzzle for you or you plan to do it yourself, you need to have a list of words and clues as the foundation for the puzzle.

If you know the person, couple or group well, it may be relatively easy to pull the list of words and clues together.  You may find, however, that the particulars you know and are sure of aren’t as many as you would like to include.  One way to come up with ideas is to ask others who can add to the list.  If this is the case, you can add to the fun of building the word-and-clue list by gathering with a group over coffee or a pizza party, for example, to produce a complete list of interesting words and clues.

To get you started, here are some categories to keep in mind as you think of ideas for words and clues.


Music: Song, type of music, band, singer, concert, etc.

Movies: Film or TV show, genre, actor or actress, theatre, director, etc.

Sports: Team, sporting event, athlete, ball park or arena, coach, etc.

Vehicles: year, make and/or model of car, type of car (sedan, convertible, etc.), motorcycle or boat, etc.

Personal preferences: color, food, restaurant, drink, dessert, method of travel, type of pet, etc.

(You also might consider any of the above in terms of things they dislike or even hate.)


Personal facts: Age, month/day/year of birth, hospital born in, hometown, schools attended, nicknames, sibling names, friends’ names, pets names, job/career, military background, etc.

Family: marital status (if married, details about their spouse), children, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc.

Physical characteristics: color of hair/eyes, short/tall, heavy/skinny/muscular, left/right handed, piercings, hairstyle, tattoos, etc.

Personality traits: shy/outgoing, caring, decisive, devoted, polite, friendly, generous, lazy, kind, etc.

Talents: singing, playing a musical instrument(s), juggling, skating, dancing, painting, etc.

Collections: Coins, music boxes, kaleidoscopes, toys, books, buttons, etc.

Activities: Gardening, stamp collecting, skiing, hiking, knitting, volunteering, baking, traveling, cycling, tennis, golf, etc.

Past times: Reading, watching TV, listening to music, napping, doing crossword puzzles, surfing the net, talking politics, etc.

Style of clothing: hip, mod, chic, retro, casual, revival, etc.

Employers: first employer, current employer, best/worst boss, best/worst job, co-workers, etc.

You might find additional help online by visiting various sites, like: ‘a dictionary of…’ or “a glossary of…’ that may give you additional clues particularly if you need help with references to activities or interests that you are not familiar with.


Purpose: What is your mission or goal?

Location: Where do you meet and/or practice?

When: What days/times do you meet?  How often?

Identifiers: What are your “colors”, mascot, insignia, nickname, uniforms?

Membership: Who is the founding member, oldest member, most recent member?

Affiliations: What larger organization(s) are the group or team part of or sanctioned by?

Number: How many in the group or on the team?

Roles: Which members have certain roles, parts or responsibilities?

Attendance: Who is always on time, always late or never missed?

Sponsorship: Who sponsors the group/team? Who does the group/team sponsor?

Dues/fees: How much does it cost to be a member?

Events:  What special meetings or events are connected with the group?

Awards/recognition: What special recognition or awards has the group or team earned?

(For business applications, categories can include: employee of the month, anniversaries, departments, events, customers, milestones, company colors, products/services, initiatives, themes, seasonal references, competition, etc.  click here for more information)


Most personalized puzzles are intended to have fun – and sometimes even “poke fun” at the honored individual or group; however, it may be easy to offend either the honoree or someone else doing the puzzle, so please be considerate when choosing the words and clues for the puzzle.  This is especially true when the puzzle might be used by companies and corporations.

Most often, personalized puzzles are not intended to stump the puzzle-doers.  Generally, the words and clues are selected to recollect certain highlights, rather than make the puzzle difficult to complete.

The final appearance of your puzzle – the format – is dependent on a number of factors including the ideal height and width of your puzzle, and whether you want the puzzle printed on the same page as the “Across” and “Down” clues or on separate pages.

Here are some factors you need to consider for the best overall appearance:

Puzzle size: Obviously, a crossword puzzle can be as small as two words as long as there is at least one common letter between them to “cross”. A puzzle usually looks more complete with more words rather than fewer words. A good minimum number to try for is at least twenty words, but it really all depends on how many words and clues you want to use in your puzzle.

All puzzle software programs have a limit on the number of words that can be in the puzzle. The maximum size of a puzzle offered by Personalized Crossword Puzzles is 49 x 49 squares and so far, we have not encountered a puzzle that is too big to create.

Puzzle format: The final appearance of your puzzle is dependent on a number of factors:

  • The overall height and width of your puzzle must be selected that is appropriate for the size of your puzzle. Most, but not all, crossword software programs offer a feature to select a size for the number of words in your puzzle and length of the words. Refer to the examples Click Here . Personalized Crossword Puzzles ensures that the optimum grid size is selected for your puzzle for the best overall appearance.

    If you have Personalized Crossword Puzzles create your puzzle for you, we guarantee that all of your words and clues will be included in your puzzle.

  • Many, but not all crossword software programs offer you the option of creating a “skeleton” puzzle with squares appearing only where there are letters (see example Click Here ). More commonly, the puzzle is printed showing all the squares with a box around it. Personalized Crossword Puzzles gives you all these options along with your choice of colors that can be used to print the puzzle.
  • Most often, the puzzle is printed on one page along with the “across” and “down” clues printed next to the puzzle. Depending on the number of words and clues, the size of the puzzle may or may not fit on one page when printed, or they all might fit, but the printing may then be very small and hard to read. Even if all these elements would fit on one page, some prefer to have the puzzle on one page and the “across” and “down” clues printed on a separate page. It’s usually just a matter of personal preference, but it is something that needs to be addressed when preparing the puzzle for printing. Here are some examples Click Here

Personalized Crossword Puzzles offers a wide range of options on various formats to use. We even offer a variety of inexpensive magnifiers that you can include with each puzzle to aid in reading the print if it is too small for some to read! Check out these options Click Here .