Free Crosswords Online!

My Puzzles
Guest Puzzles
Beginners' Puzzle
Yet more free puzzles!
Ximenean Clueing
Ximenean clueing revisited
Single letter indicators
Link Words
Cryptic Definitions
Tips for Setters
Surface Readings
Grid Construction
Messages from Clues
&lit clues
Which words can I use?
General Knowledge
Sudoku vs crosswords
The Listener Crossword
Chambers Crossword Manual
Becoming a compiler
Use of these puzzles
Bits and Pieces


6 January: Excellent puzzle from a new setter, Widdersbel.

Lovely second puzzle from Conto and a themed puzzle from me.

Please note: Due to medical reasons, I am not accepting crosswords for analysis or publication until further notice. I hope this won’t last too long!

Welcome to my website. It’s exactly what it says – free crosswords online to print off so you can solve them at your leisure. No subscriptions, no pop-up ads, no nonsense.

I am a professional crossword compiler (or setter, it’s the same thing). I produce puzzles for the Financial Times as Alberich and the Independent as Klingsor. I have also contributed a couple of puzzles to the Times Listener series. The puzzles I have written for this site vary in difficulty. Some are thematic and/or use a wide range of vocabulary. Solutions to each puzzle are available via a link at the bottom of the page. You can find them here. I have also published several crosswords from guest setters, many of them relatively new to writing crosswords. You can find those puzzles here. In response to several requests I have added a beginners’ puzzle which, as the title suggests, is significantly easier than the rest. There are explanations for each clue on the solution page and new solvers would do well to start here. There are yet more free puzzles on offer – though I should point out that these are the leftovers from my first job writing puzzles for a media agency and are therefore pretty basic.

This site has received traffic from all round the world – and not only from English-speaking countries. Indeed, some of the guest puzzles are excellent cryptics from people who have learned English as a second language. This spurred me on to put my knowledge of the Czech language to use. The Czech Puzzle is a simple, definition only crossword – to my shame I couldn’t manage a cryptic! – so if you speak the language, do “czech” it out.

Novice crossword setters may find the page on Ximenean clueing helpful. There is a follow-up article on the same topic outlining some of my ideas on the ever-continuing debate on how rigidly clue writing should follow rules. The article on single letter indicators examines the various techniques for indicating initial and final letters of words in a clue. There is also an article on link words in clues. I’ve written a piece which deals with cryptic definition clues and another which discusses &lit clues. Encouraged by an email from a visitor, I added an article about which words can be used in different puzzles. Related to that is a light-hearted piece about the use of general knowledge in cryptic crosswords. I’ve also done one about Ninas, which are increasingly used by some setters in crosswords. Good surface readings are an important part of clue writing. I explore this in another article. I hope that the growing collection of general tips for setters will be useful to anyone who seriously wants to write puzzles.

Poor grid construction can lead to an otherwise decent puzzle being rejected, and so I have written a guide to the basics of this aspect of creating crosswords. Advanced thematic puzzles often involve clues generating letters towards a message or instruction, and I have written a piece the most common techniques for doing this. I would advise anyone who wants to publish here as a guest setter to read it before submitting a crossword to me. The Chambers Crossword Manual is essential reading for solvers and setters of all levels and I have written a piece extolling its praises. Also to help aspiring setters there’s a piece on how to set about becoming a professional compiler in response to several questions on this subject.

Is using a dictionary to help solve crosswords cheating? Find out what I think about this. I have responded to the phenomenon of the incredibly popular Sudoku puzzle by writing an article on how I see crosswords faring in the future in the face of such stiff competition. Also I have included a piece about that pinnacle of crosswording achievement, the Listener Crossword.

If you like this site and would like to find more crossword sites, please take a look at the Links Page. I am happy to promote other crossword sites here, but please note that I prefer to include links to sites that offer some or all of their puzzles without charge. I would of course appreciate the favour being returned!

I’ve had a number of enquiries about copyright, and have written a short piece about using these puzzles in other publications which I hope will help.

From time to time I’ve been moved to write a few articles unrelated to crosswords about various subjects. These can be found on the Bits and Pieces page.

If you have any questions, the FAQ page may help. If not don’t hesitate to contact me. All feedback is welcome.

Happy solving!


Free Crosswords Online was launched on 07/01/02