How to use Puzzle Maker Pro - Word Squares

Puzzle Maker Pro - Word Squares Overview

This tutorial applies to Word Squares

There is one add-on available for Word Squares: Time Saver for Word Squares

Word Squares Explained

Word Squares is a word puzzle. The goal is to find the hidden word, by solving a grid filled with letters and empty spaces. The hidden word has only different letters ("cat" is valid, "chicken" is not). It's a bit like a sudoku, but without the 3x3 boxes... It's easier.

Examples of a puzzle and solution:

Word Squares Example

Word Squares Overview

To use Word Squares, select the puzzle type in the drop down menu, or in the regular menu.

Word Squares 1 Overview

To create puzzles, you'll need to add a word list (as shown in the screenshot), and click Next Preview to generate a puzzle. Each click will result in a different puzzle.

To see the words in the puzzle, toggle the "Preview Solution" option at the bottom right of the window:

Word Squares 1 Solution

The first time you start this module, you'll see a list of 7 words displayed. These words are just for demo purposes, so you get a valid puzzle when you start the module.

Grid Sizes and Difficulty Levels

With Word Squares you get 7 grid sizes: 3x3, 4x4, 5x5, 6x6, 7x7, 8x8 and 9x9. The software will only use words from your list that:

  • Have the correct number of letters, for example 5 letters for x 5x5 grid, and
  • Have no duplicate letters. "Cobra" is valid, "agenda" is not, because it has two times the letter 'a'.

You can also use your existing word lists for word search or other software, and let the Word Squares software filter out all the words that should not be used.

There's a different set of difficulty levels for each size, similar to sudoku and latin squares puzzles: For 3x3 puzzles there's just one level, for 4x4 puzzles there are 2, for 9x9 puzzles there are 7 levels. If you specify a difficulty level that's higher than what's available, it will use the highest available difficulty level.

Like our Wordoku software, the generated puzzles will always show all the letters of the word (no guess-work what the final letter should be). This is also known as well-formed puzzles.

Word List and Number of Puzzles

The word list is filtered before it's used, and only words with the correct number of letters and no duplicate letters will be used. That means that you can have a list of 10000 words, of which only 30 words can be used for Word Squares puzzles.

You can reuse word lists with formating for e.g. Zig Zag Word Search: The lines that start with #-characters and empty lines will be removed from the list of words.

The Quantity you set is actually the maximum quantity. There will be just 1 puzzle generated for each word. If the number of valid words is less than the required quantity, you'll get less puzzles. This is to make sure there are no duplicate words in your puzzle book.

If you specify Auto/Unlimited, it will use all the words from your word list.

For each word, you can add a colon and a description. For example "cat:mammal", or "Portugal:Country in Europe". The description can be used in the Instant Puzzle Books (see below). This means you can prepare word files that can also be used for Crosswords puzzles.

You can type the word list in the word list area (as shown in the screenshot above), or select a word list file. This file should be in plain text format, e.g. when you create it with Notepad on Windows. An example could be:

[Demo words.txt]

This word list would result in exactly 1 single puzzle for any grid size you select.

Word Styling

On the Word Styling tab, you can set the position for the solution word, and you can set the font, color, etc for the letters in the grid.

Solution Word Position

You can specify where you want the word to appear:

  • Horizontal on any row,
  • Vertical in any column,
  • Random - this means will randomly select Horizontal or Vertical and a random row/column number

Especially when you create multiple puzzles, the random option will create a greater variety of puzzles.

Font and Letter Color

You can click on the white font preview panel to change the font, font color and other settings. Additionally you can set the color for the solution letters, and you can set the color of the solution word cells (the default color is gray). For example, you can create the following result (depending on the fonts you have installed on your computer):

Word Squares 2 Word Styling

Grid Styling

Additionally you can customize the grid - the canvas and line colors and the line widths - to your own preferences.

Word Squares 3 Grid Styling

Puzzle Description

If you want to add a puzzle description for each puzzle in the Instant Puzzle Books, you'll need to add these descriptions to the words in the word list. This can be done by adding a colon after the word, and then add the description, e.g. "Portugal:Country in Europe". When you have a word list like this, you can enable the "Print Description" option on the Description tab:

Additionally you can set the font, and customize the space that's reserved for the description (by default it's 20%, that means that the actual puzzle will usually be made 20% smaller).

Word Squares 4 Description (1).png

The results in Powerpoint or PDF can look like this:

Word Squares 5 Description Example

Time Saver for Word Squares

The Time Saver for Word Squares allows you to create puzzles for multiple word lists at once, with an option to use 'any' size grid (depending on each word) or use a fixed grid size and filter the word list.

Word Squares - Time Saver
  1. Select the grid size - 3x3 up to 9x9 or Any. You can also set the difficulty level. If the specified grid size does not support that difficulty level, the maximum level will be used
  2. The maximum number of puzzles, or Auto/Unlimited (which means exactly one puzzle for each valid word in the list)
  3. The word position
  4. Add Word Lists. Click this button to select one or more word lists (.txt files). The settings specified for the first 3 bullets will be used, and each word list will add another row in the grid below
  5. You can edit the settings for each row. The rows will be processed in order and the puzzles will be added to the puzzle book in this order (unless you specify otherwise)
  6. Optionally Delete selected rows or all rows if you made a mistake (or if you want to set up another puzzle book)
  7. Randomize the file order or the word order within each file. This makes sense if e.g. the words in the word file are sorted alphabetically

Make sure the boxes "Use Time Saver to generate Puzzles and "Use Time Saver - Fast" are checked, then click the Create / Create (TS) button at the bottom left

Optionally you can also use the Preset Puzzles option, using several presets that you've previously saved for Word Squares puzzles.

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