Custom Cryptic Crosswords

How does it work?

We want you to get the most out of a custom crossword puzzle, so we've put together a little walk-through of the commissioning process, right the way from your initial enquiry to delivery of the finished thing.

By way of example, we're assuming that Brian Aldridge, one of the stalwarts of the Borsetshire farming establishment in The Archers (a daily radio play on the BBC), has commissioned a puzzle for his wife Jenny.

Initial contact

Brian visited our website and filled in the Enquiry Form, asking for a puzzle from one of our bank of setters; he was assigned Vigo by the robots working behind the scenes. Here's his enquiry... It gives us a good quantity of varied information, including favourite things as well as family members' names, employment, hobbies and more.

The first grid

Vigo then got to work putting answers into a proposed grid and sent it back to Brian. We aim to spread the references between the clues and the grid - it's quite fun to have some family members' names as answers which have to be written in, but at the same time it's also nice to use some in the clues so the 'surface reading' of the puzzle looks personal, too.

In this example, Vigo has put together clues by way of example. About half the clues will have relevance to the overall theme; any more and they can feel shoehorned in. Sometimes, the setters will simply give an indication of the sort of clue they're going to write, but may not actually compose the clues until the next stage.

Comments on the grid

If there are any words which need adjusting, now's the time! In this case, Brian was happy...


Once the grid was agreed, Vigo got on with the process of setting the clues. Sometimes, other words from the list can be used as clues come together, so you may end up with one or two additional references.

Once that was done, Vigo sent over the final PDF to Brian for him to print and present. We can arrange for framed presentation copies and other design options if you want - just ask your setter - but in this case, Brian was happy with a PDF and all the clues were to his satisfaction.

If you're an Archers addict, you might want to do the puzzle yourself, so you can download a PDF of what Vigo set for Jenny.