New This Month

Crossword Puzzles

The Martha Stewart Show, May 2008

If you're a "puzzle head," meaning someone who's crazy about crosswords, you're sure to know Will Shortz, the editor of the popular New York Times crossword puzzle. Shortz earned his college degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles, and has worked on the Times' famous puzzles for 14 years.

Crossword puzzles have attracted a mass following; people love mystery and solving a puzzle is solving a mystery. Seeing a procedure through from start to finish, and filling in that final square, gives "puzzle heads" quite a lot of satisfaction. Most modern crosswords have themes, and should look the same upside down and right-side up. When constructing puzzles, Shortz first fills the grid in with words that are as interesting and familiar as possible. Once the grid is completed, he writes the clues.

The New York Times crossword puzzle, and many others, increase in difficulty as the week goes on: Monday is very easy and it builds up to Friday and Saturday. If you're starting out, try Monday first, and move through the week as you get a bit better. Start with the "fill-in-the-blank" clues. Often, they're the easiest ones to solve. Fill in the answers you know for sure, and then go from there. If you get stuck, put the puzzle aside and come back to it later.

Try these one-of-a-kind crossword puzzles, created just for "The Martha Stewart Show."

Today's Show Crossword
Today's Show Crossword Answers

All About Martha Crossword
All About Martha Crossword Answers

Special thanks to Will Shortz, editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, for sharing this information. Special thanks to St. Martin's Press for giving his books, "Little Black and White Book of Crosswords," "Weekend in the Country Crosswords," and "Will Shortz Presents Crosswords for 365 Days," to our studio audience. For more information about the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, founded by Will in 1978, visit

Comments Add a comment