The New York Times
Crossword Puzzle
For Beginners

In the landscape of American crosswords, the New York Times Crossword Puzzle stands out like Mt Everest. Why is that, and how did it come about?

All fascinating questions. On this page I'm going to tell you the story behind this great puzzle, as well as a whole lot of other useful stuff. Like tips on how to solve the puzzle, or instructions for getting your own crossword puzzle published in the New York Times.

A Short History of the
New York Times Crossword Puzzle

How to Solve the
New York Times Crossword Puzzle

How to Publish a
New York Times Crossword Puzzle

What are the crossword guidelines I need to follow?

Here is a rough description of what the editor is looking for in its featured puzzles. For detailed submission guidelines you should visit the New York Times website.

Crossword puzzles should, above all, be fresh, lively, and interesting. It's not easy to say exactly what that means, but you should solve quite a few of the newspaper puzzles (if you haven't already) to get a feel for it. Basically, this entails that you should use words, phrases, and facts that appear in everyday conversations (it doesn't matter if they're not in the dictionary) but which are more likely to wake solvers up than put them to sleep.

For example...

  • IPAD is fresher than TAPEDECK,
  • RUNFORIT is surely more lively than GOODMORNING, and
  • [Obama's favorite beer] is much more interesting than [3rd President]

Although, I have to admit, I don't know the answer to that last one ;-)

References to current events and popular culture are particularly encouraged. After all, this is the New York Times, remember! But make sure you include a blend of clues across traditional knowledge areas such as Sport, Literature, History, and Geography. Brand names are also perfectly acceptable, as long as you don't go overboard.

Some particular things to avoid are words and facts that are obscure and/or uninteresting. The ploy of using partials should also be employed as little as possible, and never for entries containing more than five letters.

How do I submit my puzzle?

Although most newspapers nowadays accept puzzles submitted electronically, the New York Times editor requires its crossword puzzles to be submitted by snail mail (I'm not sure why) to the following address...

Will Shortz, Crossword Editor
The New York Times
620 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10018

You can request to receive your reply either by email or by post. Just remember to include your email address or a self-addressed envelope accordingly.

How much will I get paid if my puzzle gets accepted?

Well, first you'll need to accept that you won't get rich publishing your puzzles in the New York Times. Or in any other newspaper for that matter. Nobody does. But, if you enjoy making crosswords, the pocket money you'll get for this one is about as good as it gets in the world of newspapers.

As you'd expect, the payout depends on the nature of the puzzle. Here's the breakdown...

  • Monday to Friday (15 by 15) — $200
  • Sunday (21 by 21 or 23 by 23) — $1000
  • Diagramless Crossword (17 by 17) — $150
  • Novelty Puzzle — $200

How to Subscribe to the
New York Times Crossword Puzzle

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