Advice for beginners

This page provides advice for anyone who wants to learn how to solve cryptic crosswords.

It explains the difference between cryptic and quick crosswords, and what is involved in learning how to solve cryptic clues.

The difference between cryptic and quick crosswords

There are various different types of crossword puzzle.

Quick crosswords and Cryptic crosswords are the two most common types.

Quick crosswords
You don't need any special knowledge or skills to attempt a quick crossword.

The answer to each clue is another word or phrase that means the same as the clue.

Cryptic crosswords
You do need special knowledge to attempt a cryptic crossword.

This is because cryptic clues are written in a form of code — they contain hidden instructions that tell the solver how to arrive at the answer.

You need to know how these instructions work in cryptic clues in order to develop the skill of solving them.

Example crosswords

 Type of crossword   Documents  
 Quick crossword  puzzle  solution
 Cryptic crossword   puzzle   solution 


Learning how to solve cryptic crosswords

Anyone who can solve clues in a quick crossword will be able to learn how to solve cryptic clues.

Learning any skill is a process that takes time and application, and is easier if you have access to effective learning resources.

That's because learning is like a journey — it works better if you follow a good route in a reliable vehicle!

For beginners to learn the skill of solving cryptic clues, the following aspects are important:

  • the order in which topics are introduced — start simple and progress to the advanced
  • the design of exercises, practice clues and puzzles — to reinforce key learning points
  • the level at which practical activity is set — start easy to build confidence, and get more challenging as skills progress.

All CZD Crosswords learning resources are built on these principles.

Find out more

Download the white paper Learning how to solve cryptic crossswords for a more detailed account of what is involved.