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PUZZLE EXPLANATIONS

For simplicity's sake, the word "word" in all of the descriptions below refers to any entry in the puzzle, whether a single word, a hyphenated word, or a multiple-word phrase.

Crisscross

Fit all of the words into the grid so that they interlock in standard crossword fashion. For convenience's sake, the words are listed alphabetically by length. Each word will be entered exactly once, so you can cross the words off the list as you fit them into the grid.

Crossword

The themed crosswords vary in difficulty level, but the difficulty levels are not specifically indicated anywhere. The themeless crosswords' difficulty levels will also vary, but will generally tend to be on the harder side.

Regardless of difficulty level, no crossword's clues will contain multiple-word indicators such as "2 words".

Cryptic Crossword

Every clue in a cryptic crossword contains two halves: a "definition" half and a "wordplay" half; the two halves may appear in either order. The definition half is similar to the definition in a normal crossword. The wordplay half indicates the answer in any of a number of ways, such as by an anagram or a hidden word. For a more detailed explanation, please see the cryptic guide at The Atlantic Monthly's website.

A variety cryptic works in the same fashion, but adds yet another twist on top of things. It might involve altering some of the clue answers, entering words into the grid in an unusual way, or some other kind of trickery. The instructions sometimes explain the gimmick, but sometimes just give a hint if part of the puzzle is determining exactly what needs to be done.

Do-It-Yourself Crisscross

When completed, the grid will contain all the words and phrases shown below the grid, interlocking in standard crisscross fashion: every word will be connected to at least one other word, and the grid will contain no words other than those. To start you off, three letters will be shown everywhere they appear in the grid; these letters will also spell one of the words from the word list. Each word entered into the grid restricts where the other words can go, and the finished puzzle has a unique solution.

Marching Bands

Each row contains two adjacent words, defined in order in clues 1-13. These are crossed by continuous trains of words in the square bands lettered A-F. The words in each band are clued in order, with the first word starting in the appropriately lettered square and then proceeding clockwise.

Rows Garden

Each lettered Row contains two words, defined in order, except for the top and bottom rows, which each contain a single word that reads across the nine protruding spaces. The light, medium, and dark "blooms" are six-letter words that may begin at any point within the bloom and read either clockwise or counterclockwise. The bloom words' clues are in random order within each color.

Something Different

Something Different crosswords allow made-up entries that can be clued in any way. For example, the clue "Flowery poem about one 1980s fad" might lead to ODE ON A RUBIK'S CUBE; the clue "Like margarine" might lead to OLEOESQUE. Most Something Differents will include some real words as well, particularly among the shorter entries; these will be clued normally and are good places to start. Expect anything and keep your mind open!

Spiral

In a Spiral, there are two sequences of words, Inward and Outward. Each word begins in the given clue number and ends in the square before the next clue number. Work in both directions to finish the puzzle.

Squeezeboxes

Every square will contain a minimum of two letters. There are two versions, "hard" and "easier"; the easier includes enumerations of each answer (for example, a clue for the answer CROSSWORD PUZZLE would have (9 6) after it). Enumerations will include hyphens but no other punctuation, such as apostrophes or quotation marks.

Vowelless Crossword

Solvers must enter just the consonants of the answers into the grid; all occurrences of A, E, I, O, and U are to be ignored. None of the answers will include the letter Y. There are two versions, "hard" and "easier"; the easier includes enumerations of each answer (for example, a clue for the answer CROSSWORD PUZZLE would have (9 6) after it). Enumerations will include hyphens but no other punctuation, such as apostrophes or quotation marks.

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