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    How to Make a Crossword as a Gift

    Eight years ago, I received from my future husband one of the most striking and unusual gifts in my life: a hand-drawn crossword puzzle!  Frankly speaking, I am still much impressed by my husband’s creativity. To honour him, this post will have the form of a dialogue. Together we are going to tell you how to make a crossword puzzle.


    My dear Husband, before you tell our readers, how to make a crossword, tell us where you got this idea.

    I was on my way to Erasmus student exchange. You were preparing for a different trip abroad. That was when your birthday arrived. You are one of the most creative people I know, so I realised an ordinary greeting card wouldn’t do. Being a student, I couldn’t afford an expensive or a huge present due to high shipping costs. A unique, handmade, personalised crossword drawn on a regular piece of paper satisfied all of my needs.

    How long did it take you to make a crossword?

    About 1/3 of the journey from northern Poland to the capital of Slovenia, i.e. several hours. I was travelling by train and had no books, games, apps or Internet access on my Nokia 3310. Therefore, I planned I would spend part of the journey making your gift. During the previous holidays, we often solved crossword puzzled on the train, which probably was my initial inspiration. However, it was far less entertaining to do it on my own, so instead of solving a puzzle, I decided to create one.

    newspaper crosswords with glasses and a pen on them

    How to make a crossword as a present?

    You need to personalise it. General knowledge puzzles may be found in each kiosk. A crossword dedicated solely to the recipient is quite another matter. At best, it should be impossible to solve by a different person than the one it is meant for. One should also ensure that the words and clues are not too easy. In your crossword, I didn’t ask about ‘Your name’ but about ‘The name of the most wonderful and lovely girl in the world’. Another noteworthy clue was ‘The best place to spend summer holidays’. I remember that was quite a toughie for you because you couldn’t decide which of the many places we visited together I meant. And it was actually none of them: I used the name of the place where you spent your childhood holidays at your grandpa’s. Eventually, we guessed some of the more difficult words together via Skype 😉 We definitely had lots of fun, oohs and aahs with that!

    That’s true. And how to make a crossword from the technical perspective?

    You need a penci, , a ruler and a large rubber [laughs]. Your crossword had 20 words (10 down and 10 across) because it was your 20th birthday. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to shrink or widen any boxes. The only imperfection consisted the fact that some words touched others, and I had to separate them with thick lines. What was most important was the solution. It was my message for you that inspired the entire crossword. The words in the crossword had to include letters needed for the solution. First, I wrote the solution in my sketchbook, and then crossed out individual letters while inventing subsequent words and clues in order to check whether I had them all.

    This is what the crossword looked like:

    hand-made crossword

    Thank you for your time and for sharing your experience with us. You may now go back to improving the blog for our readers. In the meantime, I am going to tell them

    How to make a crossword quickly and aesthetically on the computer

    One option is to make a crossword on your own with a Word table, with all words across, and the solution down. This is the simplest way, which requires as many words as the number of letters in your solution.

    As far as I’m concerned, criss-cross crosswords appear much more professional, though. My dear Husband put a lot of effort into his, but today it is possible to find online tools that will make a crossword automatically.

    filled-in crossword with a pen and a white-out tool

    Such tools may be found e.g. on sites dedicated to foreign language teaching. My favourite is https://crosswordlabs.com. When I created a crossword puzzle for my aunt’s name day, I tried several crossword makers, and this one was in my opinion the best.

    Advantages of CrosswordLabs:

    • There is only one field to write words and clues separated with space. This facilitates copying and pasting them from the document where you drafted the content of your crossword (other sites have separate fields for each word and each clue, which considerably prolongs the copy/paste process);
    • It produces a nice crossword and clue layout;
    • You may regenerate obtained crossword until you reach a satisfactory shape;
    • You may save it as PDF or Word document (which makes it possible to ‘beautify’ your crossword, add some text or edit your clues later on);
    • In the Word document it is very easy to insert numbers in boxes to mark the letters needed for the solution;
    • You may also make a crossword online and share the link to it.

    Actually, that’s exactly what I’m going to do now: https://crosswordlabs.com/view/krzyzowka-na-imieniny

    Make a crossword, a crossword I made myself.

    Are you already eager to make a crossword? Or, perhaps, you already know which crossword enthusiast among your relatives or friends would be most happy to receive one? Let me know what you think about this idea in the comments below!

    My advice:

    – I believe that a crossword is an ingenious way to convey an important message (e.g. with solutions reading: ‘I LOVE YOU’, ‘MAY I KISS YOU’ or even ‘WILL YOU MARRY ME’).

    – Remember that a personalised crossword may be a present in itself as well as a creative introduction to your gift (if the recipient has to guess the solution in order to find out what they will receive or where to look for it)!

    – As opposed to the simpler type of crosswords, the criss-cross crossword makers I found don’t have the option to set a solution. [If you know of any with such an option, please let me know!] If the solution is what you care about most, you need to insert numbers in appropriate letter boxes on your own. I did mine in red, font size 8, aligned to the right so that they were visible in the bottom right corner of each box.

    – I made the frame using a little-known Word function: Page Layout -> Page Background -> Page Borders -> Art. There I chose red flowers and changed their width so that they didn’t cover the heading.

    – Don’t forget to check your crossword when it’s ready! I made a typing mistake in mine when I wrote the words, which made it impossible to solve it. Fortunately, the program saved my work, and it was enough to correct two letters to regenerate the crossword.

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