If you’re a crossword fanatic or just a casual fan, Newsday’s seven-day-a-week puzzles have something for everyone. Here are a few pointers for veterans and newbies from Newsday puzzle editor Stan Newman:

  • The Monday-to-Saturday puzzles get more difficult as the week goes on to appeal to all skill levels and help you to get better at solving them. Sunday crosswords are of medium difficulty, a nice break from our tough “Saturday Stumper.”
  • Always look at the puzzle title first because it will often give you a subtle-but-clever hint at the subject matter (i.e., “The Great ‘S’-Cape,” with clues about Superman.)
  • Find an easy-to-answer clue in the puzzle and insert that first. Then use the letters of that clue to help you solve adjacent answers.
  • Concentrate on one area of the puzzle at a time. If you become stumped, go to a different area of the puzzle and look for another easy-to-answer clue.
  • If you are truly stumped, you can do one of three things: 1) Put the puzzle down and come back to it later, which will work as long as you use the same device. 2) double-check your answers to make sure they are correct, or 3) look up a word, which is considered educational and not cheating. And when you’re done, check your answers (the box with the check at the top of the puzzle) to see if you got any wrong.

As with all professionally built crosswords, there are some important rules that the authors usually follow:

  • Every clue must accurately define or describe its answer.
  • Puzzles with a variety of different clues and answers are more entertaining.
  • Clues almost always stick to the theme of the day and there should be a balance between academic subjects and topics of popular culture.
  • Clues focus on current topics and avoid outdated or esoteric facts.

And finally, it’s worth repeating that it is perfectly okay for you to look up the answers, using a dictionary, computer or smart phone. Learning things that you don’t know is the only proven path to improvement when it comes to solving crossword puzzles. So stick with our puzzles, follow the hints above and before long, you’ll start to see progress. You’ll also get a wonderful feeling every time you apply something you’ve learned to crack a tough clue.

Good luck!

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