NYT crosswords Style and Conventions

Introduction to NYT crosswords Style and Conventions:

If you’d think that Will Shortz is the one who writes his New York Times crosswords, you’ve mistaken a lot. In fact the submitted puzzles by Shortz are sent to numerous contributors. There is a complete specification sheet that logs the paper’s stipulation for the crossword puzzle proposal online or through paper writing.

The New York Times’ Crossword puzzle has a difficulty level that changes from the beginning of Monday to Thursday all the way to Sunday. These puzzles also have a theme these days. There is a type of connection in conjunction to three answers (mostly across) like similar puns, letter substitution or adjustment in each entry.

Other theme types include humorous quotations divided into aligned segments and expanded across the grid. To illustrate this idea, we’ve brought the example of Ethan Friedman’s 2004 themed quotation that states the following :ANY IDIOT CAN FACE / A CRISIS IT’S THIS/ DAY-TO-DAY LIVING/ THAT WEARS YOU OUT.

Explaining the last Example of NYT conventions

This particular quotation has been ascribed to Anton Chekhov. Nevertheless, this authorship is controversial, and the exact source hasn’t been determined yet. Remarkable dates like holiday celebrations and anniversaries are honored within a conveniently themed puzzle. So far two particular themes are commemorated on an annual basis which is Christmas and April Fool’s Day.

Furthermore, Friday and Saturday puzzles are considered the hardest and thus they don’t have any themes, they are open. They contain long words and black squares. If we would compare the two types of puzzles, we will find that themed puzzles encompass 78 words. However, the Friday and Saturday unthemed puzzles merely contain 72 words. Saturday on the other spectrum must encompass 140 words or slightly less.

Since The New York Times is a famous platform for the well-educated and literate audience, the crossword puzzles oftentimes reference literary, and artistic sources as well as modern TV, movies and other yardsticks of popular culture.

What are the NYT crosswords Style and Conventions?

The New York crossword puzzles are set in accordance with some conventions in conjunction with tradition and in order to assist solvers in finishing the crossword:

  • Most crossword grids have rotational consistency: You can rotate them to a 180 degrees and they can stay identical. On the other spectrum, it is rare to find vertical and horizontal symmetry. What’s even rarer ? Asymmetrical puzzles – this usually happens when an unfamiliar theme necessitates going against the symmetry rule. In fact, this rule has been set since the beginning  by editor Margaret Ferrar. In her claim, she states that it is “prettier.”
  • Most of the time if a clue contains “abbre,” the most appropriate answer will be an abbreviation like (M.D org. = AMA). If a clue ends with a question mark, the answer is usually a play on words.
  • Every now and then, a themed crossword needs to be filled with a symbol, various letters, or a word rather than the usual one-letter. In each themed entry, the symbol, letters, or word will be changed. For instance, Jeff Chen’s December 6, 2012, puzzle promoted a robust theme derived from the chemical pH scale. The latter was used for acids and bases and required the letters “pH”  to be drafted together in different puzzle positions. For e*instance triumph or Soph
  • Other languages’ answers such as in French, Spanish, or Latin are shown by a tag in the clue providing the appropriate answer in that language (summer; in French ETE). Alternatively, it can be indicated using a clue from that language, usually either a personal name or place (Pierre’s Friends = AMIS or The Ocean = EAU).
  • A rule of thumb to always remember, clues and answers must be kept identical in terms of speech, tense, number, and degree. Therefore, if you have a plural clue, then the answer will be plural too (and vice versa for singular forms). A clue in the past tense needs to be matched with an answer in the past tense form. Additionally, a clue in the comparative or superlative form needs to match an answer accordingly.
  • If an answer contains multiple words, it will never appear in the clue. Contrary to other less stricter puzzles in other platforms, you won’t find the number of words in the answer indicated in the clue. Hence, a one-word clue can  refer to multiple-word answers.
  • In regard to the theme, if it is applicable, it will be set all over the puzzle. That is to say if the theme entry is a pun, the rest of the themes will be the same.
  • Later Mr Shortz has apologized for the inappropriate word and promised it will never happen again. Back in 1995, the word PENIs has appeared in Shortz’ edited crossword puzzles. It was used as a clue for “The … mightier than the sword.”
  • Spoken phrases are shown in quotation marks (“Get out of here! = LEAVE NOW). Furthermore, exclamations are often indicated in square brackets (It’s cold!).
  • A word is indicated in parentheses when the answer can only be substituted for the clue preceding a specific word. For instance, éthink (over) = MULL. Mull means think and precedes the word “over ” i,e think over and mull over are synonymous. The point is that think can be replaced by mull but only when it is followed by another word.
  • If a word requires an additional work to fit the clue, then it is indicated  by “with.” for instance, “Become understood, with in = sink in. This means to become understood. So the word “become understood” will change to “sink in.”
  • New York Times’ style always capitalizes the first letter of the clue (regardless of the sentence form or word form). This is made on purpose to accentuate the difficulty level. For example, “John, for one,” and here it is rather unclear if we are referring to the proper noun or the slang term .


That’s all for our new guide on NYT crosswords Style and Conventions. We leave with this useful video retlated to our informative topic.

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