9
$\begingroup$

I'm making a crossword puzzle to honor someone specific whose name contains 16 characters, obviously too many for a standard 15x15 grid and also an even number which can't go in the middle row of a larger grid. Any ideas on how to create a good grid?

$\endgroup$
1

4 Answers 4

11
$\begingroup$

There are plenty of additional ways to hide secret messages (like a person's name) in a crossword, other than just spelling out the word as an answer (or splitting it across several answers) in the grid. Here are 6 suggestions, all illustrated using the same 9x9 grid:

6 ways to hide messages in crossword grids

  1. Read off the letters at the intersections between words.

  2. Read off the letters clockwise around the edge of the grid, usually from the top-left corner.

  3. Indicate particular rows (e.g. by an arrow symbol) whose letters need to be read off in order to reveal the message.

  4. Colour certain cells scattered throughout the grid (pattern optional) - a very common approach in most puzzle book publications.

  5. Hide the phrase as a 'snake' in the grid somewhere. Up to you whether you highlight the cells where it is to be found; otherwise it can be left as an exercise for the solver.

  6. Have a 'signal letter' in the grid, which indicates where to find the message by having a fixed rule relating to each occurrence of this letter. e.g. Grid 6 here uses signal letter 'B', and the answer is found by reading off the first letter reached to the right of every 'B'.

These are not the only methods (indeed, @Jafe has already recommended splitting the name across multiple answers if it isn't only one 16-letter word, or entering multiple letters into certain cells). If you move away from thinking in terms of it having to be an answer in the grid by itself, then there are many more options that present themselves to you. Get creative!

PS It's worth highlighting the comment made by @MOehm below this post. This kind of hidden message in a crossword is popularly known as a 'Nina'. Searching for this phrase online (e.g. using terms like 'crossword nina examples') might provide you with further inspiration.

$\endgroup$
7
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, basically all Nina approaches can work. (One you haven't mentioned is to make the hidden answer an acrostic of all Across clues, for example.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented May 21 at 8:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MOehm Indeed they can. And the acrostic suggestion is a good one - just doesn't fit for 16 letters with the grid I've used :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 21 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, that wasn't meant as criticism of your poor choice of grid. ;) Just wanted to put in my two cents without writing my own answer. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented May 21 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm Haha, no I got it :) And I figured it was worth mentioning the terminology from your comment in a PS, as this might give the OP more ways to find alternative suggestions. Fun fact: Fans of Channel 4's Taskmaster have just been exposed to one, as Steve Pemberton posted a crossword as 'Sphinx' in the Guardian back in Sep 2023 whose 'nina' was revealed to be a message relevant to his at-the-time-unannounced appearance on the show. Had to wait over 6 months for the full reveal! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 21 at 8:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Like in your answer, @Lezzup, the key suggestion here is that the name does not have to be a regular answer. For (2), there are grids that have margin unches at the left and right, but not at the bottom. And you can always pad the message: "Fifty years of Billy Wisenheimer". In the words of this answer. Get creative! $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented May 21 at 8:52
6
$\begingroup$

If the 16 letters is the person's first and last name instead of a single word, I think the most straightforward solution might be to separate it onto two rows as two answers. If it has to be one word, you could just make the grid slightly larger to accommodate a longer answer. Or if you prefer a standard-sized grid, how about using a gimmick where some cells contain multiple letters, like e.g. in What xkcd means?

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

How about the following setup?

setup

Or:

setup2

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

Maybe this is too obvious of an answer, but: the grid doesn't have to be a square! In the New York Times (perhaps the gold standard of American crosswords), it's possible to see the occasional 15x14 or 15x16 grid, and more rarely, dimensions that stray even further from 15x15. A 15x16 grid could fit the name perfectly in the middle row.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.