How to Make Code Word Puzzles

By Lisa Duncan

Codeword puzzles are similar to crossword puzzles in appearance, but different in how they are solved. To solve a codeword puzzle is to figure out what numbers (one through 26) represent which letter of the alphabet. If you have a knack for other puzzles, codeword puzzles are an alternative and fun brain teaser. Below are instructions for creating codeword puzzles of your own.

Brainstorm. Take a piece of paper and pencil and brainstorm ideas for the codeword puzzle. At the top of the page, write the word that will be the main theme. For example, "Tigers." Puzzles usually follow a theme. For example, a tiger theme could have words like: Siberian, Bengal and stripes. For now, just write whatever comes to mind underneath your theme title. Remember that every letter of the alphabet has to be used at least once in the codeword puzzle. Draw the numbers one through 26. Add letters under the numbers so you can see the answer to the codeword you are creating.

Sketch a draft. Now, get a new piece of paper. Graphed paper is a good choice as it has boxes already done for you and makes the draft look clean and neat. Remember, a codeword puzzle looks like a crossword puzzle, without the clues. So, start by writing one of your theme words horizontally, using one letter per box. Now add other words where they might intersect into the word already written on the graph paper. Add more words so that you start to have what looks like a filled in crossword puzzle. This is the time to make sure every letter of the alphabet is used.

Add numbers. Now that you have a draft codeword puzzle, add the code numbers above each letter. Your sketch will look a lot like a filled in crossword with numbers filled in above each letter. Add a scratchpad at the bottom. The scratchpad section is a rectangle filled with 26 boxes. The scratchpad can be two rows of 13 to save space. Each box has a number, one through 26. This section of the codeword is where your user places letters they think fit with the numbers.

Finalize the puzzle. At this point, you need to decide whether or not you want to use software for your final product. There are software companies that offer puzzle software. Some software companies offer shareware which is free to use. Do a web search for the one that best suits your needs. If you decide you do not want to use software, get another piece of white paper. Place the white paper over the graphed paper and trace the draft codeword puzzle onto the white paper using a thin, black, permanent marker. Use a ruler if it will help keep the lines straight.

Add numbers. If you are creating your codeword puzzle by hand, then add the numbers that go inside the boxes in the top left corner of each square (if you are using software, this will be done for you). This leaves space for the user to write the letter inside the squares. Also, add the scratchpad—the rectangle of boxes with numbers one through 26, where the user will place letters when they feel they have figured out what letter corresponds to which number. Add embellishments to your codeword puzzle using other colors to add impact.

Add words to the software codeword template. If you want to create a printable puzzle, software is a good idea.

Finalize your codeword. If you decided on hand writing your codeword puzzle, check the final draft and make a photocopy of it. If you used software, print the codeword and hand it out for people to solve.


The more you do codeword puzzles, the better you will become at creating them.

About the Author

Lisa Duncan is a freelance writer based in Maryland who contributes articles related to computers, health, and fitness. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from University of Delaware and a Master of Arts degree in computer fraud investigations from George Washington University.