I am interested in producing "American style" crosswords and looking for a digital alternative to the graph paper I've been using.

I've tried crossword eclipse but it seems to be more of a generator. It produces grids from a list of words. I want to produce my own grids from scratch.

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    $\begingroup$ @Nai questions about puzzles are just fine here I think. And definitely not in meta. The question about whether this question belongs here are the type of questions that belong on meta. $\endgroup$ – Ivo Beckers Jan 26 '16 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Nai I agree with IvoBeckers. This site is about "the creation and solving of puzzles." This question certainly fits within that purview. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Jan 26 '16 at 4:38

I've had success just using Excel (or a similar spreadsheet). Set the row and column widths to be the same, and use a tiny font justified to the top and left to insert the numbers. Change the background "fill" color to black for the squares that are black.

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    $\begingroup$ If you want to automate it you could select all the cells, format their width / height, then create a conditional formatting based on the input 0 or anything, where 0 = black background / text color and anything else = white background and black text. Then save it for use as a template. When you want to print it just select the cells that make up the crossword and print selection / print pdf. When printing change the conditional formatting of the white squares so the text is white too and you have an empty crossword! $\endgroup$ – Daedric Jan 26 '16 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ If you're on a Mac, Numbers is also a good alternative (since it's free and Excel isn't). $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Jan 26 '16 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ @IanMacDonald Similarly, you could use Google Drive's spreadsheet, which is also free. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Jan 26 '16 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Hopefully you find this useful, and if someone wants they can add it to @GentlePurpleRain 's answer. mediafire.com/download/4cmnnn726u5v3x3/Crossword+Maker.xlsx $\endgroup$ – Daedric Feb 7 '16 at 23:51

Short of producing your own grid as Gentle suggests, the crossword construction programs out there that offer full control of the grid itself usually come with a cost. With that said, some of them such as Crossword Hobbyist offer free trials.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling! (Take the Tour!) I may be jumping to conclusions but your username suggests you have an affiliation with that site. Please see Avoid overt self-promotion for hints on how to stay within site guidelines while mentioning useful sites or materials you have a stake in. In any case, thanks for contributing and hope you enjoy the site :) $\endgroup$ – Rubio Feb 7 '18 at 5:15

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