How to Make Your Own Word Search Puzzles

By Ainsley Patterson
You can sometimes find word search puzzles in the newspaper.

A word search puzzle is made up of a large grid of seemingly random letters. Within that grid of letters, however, are words that the player must find. Some players may like to time themselves to see how fast they can complete the puzzle, while other players may just enjoy completing their word searches at a more leisurely pace. You can create your own word search puzzles as part of the entertainment for a party or to give out to the students in a class.

Make a list of words you will include in your word search on a piece of printer paper. The words may all fit into a theme, such as dinosaurs or medical terms, or they may just be a collection of words. Vary the length of the words, with none of them being shorter than three letters.

Fill in a piece of graph paper with your words by writing one letter in each box on the paper. Write words going across, down and diagonally. You may even make some of the words going backwards for a more challenging puzzle. Write the words in all capital letters so as not to give away their location within the puzzle.

Fill in the rest of the graph paper with random letters, again with all capital letters.

Make an equal number of copies of the word list and the puzzle, one for each person who will be doing the word search. Staple one word list to each puzzle.


You probably won't need a full sheet of graph paper for your word search unless you have a list of 50 or more words or a large number of lengthy words. You don't have to use a whole sheet of graph paper if your word list doesn't require it, just trim the paper down to a square or rectangle shape after to write in all your words. Then fill in that smaller section of graph paper with letters. You can tape the word search and the word list to a sheet of paper and make copies that way so you don't have to staple the two pieces of paper together, if they will both fit on a single sheet.

Keep in mind the age group you are making the puzzle for when coming up with your word list.

Make your own word searches to help students memorize vocabulary lists and spelling words. Give definitions as clues, rather than a list of the words. You can also use pictures as clues for spelling lists.

About the Author

Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Ainsley Patterson has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her articles appear on various websites. She especially enjoys utilizing her more than 10 years of craft and sewing experience to write tutorials. Patterson is working on her bachelor's degree in liberal arts at the University of Michigan.