Crossword puzzles have existed for less than a century, but they have grown in popularity to become the world's leading printed puzzle type. They may fill your commute to work, make lunch a little more fun, or make that plane flight or DMV line seem not so long. In the year of the crossword's 90th anniversary, The Everything® Easy Crosswords Book gives you more than 200 puzzles, specifically created to avoid the crosswordese that has made so many crosswords unpleasant to the newcomer. Crossword puzzles are supposed to be fun. They should not be full of obscure rivers, uncommon animals, weather vane directions, or foreign words that are easy to build puzzles with but rarely used in everyday speech. So if knowing an ERNE from a TERN, a UTE from an OTO, or the AARE and AAR from the ISAR, ISER, ISERE, and YSER is something you'd rather avoid, you've come to the right place.
Furthermore, The Everything® Easy Crosswords Bookwill try to avoid variant spellings, prefixes and suffixes sitting by themselves (like OLA and ESE and STER and ADE), multiword partial phrases (like ONEI and TOA and INLA), plurals of names and abbreviations (like AVAS and EVAS and RONS), spelled-out letters (like CEE and ELL and ESS), weather vane abbreviations (like ENE and ESE), and of course, crosswordese (those words that you never see in everyday English, like SNEE, NENE, ATEN, ANOA, ANI, and ONER; these tend to be three-or four-letter words using one-point Scrabble letters, often starting with vowels).
There are seven general rules to American crosswords:
No unchecked squares (every white square is used in both an across and a down entry)
Mirror-symmetry (if you cut a puzzle in half and rotate it around its middle, the black and white squares match)
Interconnectedness (the black squares don't cut the diagram into multiple sections)
Two-letter entries are taboo.
Using of the same word or multiple forms of the same word in a grid is taboo.
Bigotry and suggestiveness in the entries and clues are frowned upon.
Newspapers standardize on specific grid sizes; keep this in mind when constructing for specific newspapers.
So, find a comfy seat, get yourself a nice sharp pencil (erasers or pens optional), relax, and dig into these puzzles.
The beginner puzzles have no proper nouns or hyphenated/multi-word phrases (Chapters 1–3). The easy puzzles include proper nouns (Chapters 4–6). The medium puzzles also include hyphenated and multi-word entries, but you can find out which ones they are by looking at the bottom of the page for help (Chapters 7–9). Themed puzzles have themes throughout their long entries, while theme crosswords have a common theme for all the entries throughout the puzzle. If you see a person's name without a blank, that means you've been provided with the last name, not the first name (so “Singer John” is ELTON, not DENVER).
Okay, off you go! You're on your own now.