# If I want to create word search puzzles what approach is best?

It seems like most word search puzzles have a quantity of words that match some theme, arranged haphazardly, with some random letters filling in the extra spaces.

If I want to create word search puzzles what do I need to consider in my puzzle creation?

• I think the selling of puzzles is off-topic, though the rest of the question is good. What do others think? I've started a meta discussion on the topic here. May 26 '14 at 23:19

Here are a few technical factors to keep in consideration before starting your puzzle.

## Grid size

A word search will tend to be more difficult on a larger grid than a smaller one, due to the larger search space. However, it will also be harder to fit all the letters onto whatever medium you're creating this word search on, so you need to find a balance.

On the other hand, a smaller word search is harder to create, due to the fact that you need to fit so many words into such a small space and they might need to intersect. Be careful that you don't try and make a grid so small that the words become impossible to place.

## Word length

As a rule, longer words are easier to find than smaller ones, simply because they're so big. However, they'll also be harder to place on a smaller grid, again because there are so many words they have to intersect with. At the same time, you need to be careful that you don't accidentally include a small word in the grid twice by virtue of the random letters coincidentally falling on that pattern.

For the actual puzzle creation process, you'll want to follow this general procedure:

## Place big words first.

Big words are, as a rule, harder to place, because they have so many possible intersections and therefore requirements to fulfill. If you place them onto the grid first, there are more places to put them, and it's more likely the small words will fit onto the grid afterwards.

## Look for clever combos.

If you notice that three words would work in a triangle or a group of four, put those three or four words together first. Making combos makes for more compact arrangements, which leave more room for other words to appear in the grid.

## If it fails, try again.

You may not be able to get all the words you want onto the grid on the first try. If that happens, restart with the big words in a different position. If you've tried a few times and can't seem to get even half of the words onto the grid, try using a bigger grid or reducing your word list.

'Random' letters
Consider that the random letters you will end up with are not truly random and you don't want them to be! If they are random they can form words that need to be found, in this way you can the puzzle more easy. You could also make the 'random letters' such that they form a word at the end, that would be harder to make though.

Theme
A theme is nice, but not entirely necessary. It is up to you to be creative and make the words themed. You can look for synonyms or look on the web for the words you already have made up. I think it's good to have more words and place them in the puzzle if they fit and else don't use them. The best way is to create or use software to create those puzzles.