How to Solve a Word Search Puzzle

Some Tips and Tricks from a Creator of a Word Search Book

So you’ve decided to solve some word search puzzles? It is definitely an activity that requires due patience! I created my own word search book (which I dabble with in my spare time) and even I get tired of looking for all the words!

Well, here is some advice from someone who has loved word search books and solving word search puzzles ever since I got one in school:

There is no need to rush

You might have picked up a word search book to have something on hand to pass the time, should a boring moment arise in your life. There is no need to rush through like it’s a competition. Sure, you might believe that the faster you find all the words, the quicker your mental capabilities might be. The slower you find them, the more stupid you might consider yourself. Or maybe you just more frustrated the more you rush through it. Rather than focusing on the actual goal of finding all the words, just try to enjoy the process. There is no test. There is no time limit. If you can find all the words in 30 minutes, why should that be worse than finding them in 5 minutes? If you enjoyed the process, who cares? That’s another reason why I created my Maliniia word search books. It adds a different element to the word search. Instead of focusing on just the words, you focus on the process because in the end you will reveal something special.

There are strategies you can use not to save time, but to make it less frustrating.

Though I enjoy doing my own word searches, I’m always fascinated by various posts about the best strategies to find all the words. I’ve always disliked the notion of turning everything into some kind of sport. That’s why I love word searches, because it’s something I know I can take my sweet time to savor. But anyway, there are things you can do to make things less frustrating for you. I have also tried to illustrate each method visually by using a sample word search from my Maliniia Word Search Book:

1. Use the “criss-cross” scanning method.

This is the most obvious approach and basically involves scanning the word search grid horizontally, vertically and diagonally to find the most obvious words. These words are usually the easy ones because they are not reversed. By using this method, you can more easily get those easy ones out of the way, to focus on the more difficult ones to find. This one can get really frustrating because you have to keep scanning the grid over and over until you find something.

2. Use the “stare of boredom” method.

This is a method I’m guilty at sometimes. I would simply just stare at the word search until a word pops out at me. It’s basically just scanning for words without really any focus. I just let my mind wander while looking at the page and finds words that way. There is no particular word you are looking for either. You are just looking for any words at all. This is the preferred method if you just want to relax and go with the flow. Just think of it not as an exercise, but just a fun way to pass the time. If you stop thinking of it as a test/chore/trial then it just becomes more fun. No way I could think of to illustrate this method simply because all you will see is a bunch of random lines.

3. The “intense search” method.

This involves going through each word on the list one-by-one. If “apple” is the next word on the list in the word search, that’s the word I’m going to scan for intensely. It means looking for that word in any which way possible. It usually involves using all of the above methods together, but also means scanning for the letter A in all instances and spreading out to see if all the remaining letters match. Usually, you focus just on one word. If you find other words, you discard them not to lose focus. I used to do this sometimes but found I was just frustrating myself.

4. The “letter-spread” method.

You start by looking for the first letter of the word you are searching for. You then stop on each instance in which the second letter in the word is paired with the first. Only then does it become worthy of your attention. You then “spread out” in all directions from that point by scanning for the remaining letters in every which way possible. Usually, this yields interesting results. However, this method is best when paired with the “intense search” method because that way you are guaranteed to find all the words on the list in order.

5. The “slice-and-dice” method.

This is a more intensive method that I only heard of recently. I would not recommend this method for use in my Maliniia word search books because the words form a drawing, rather than a random jumble of words. If you use this method, you may not actually get to admire the hidden drawings. Hence again, why I advise not to make a word search purely a search for the words themselves. In Maliniia, I’ve added an additional level just because I wanted to focus on the bigger picture. I have tested this method out myself, but it’s not for the casual of heart. It involves slicing the word search grid both horizontally, vertically and diagonally by drawing 4 lines with a pencil. You then check them for any words. Then, you proceed to do the exact same thing step by step until you meticulously find each word on the list. It sounds complex but it actually has merit. As you can see in my example above, I found 4 words pretty quickly.

6. The “chunky” method.

Now both for my Maliniia word search books and any word search books in general, I tend to prefer this method. Why? I find it the most effective. It may sound meticulous, but it actually saves you from so much frustration compared to the other methods. You start by dividing the word search grid into chunks or blocks of letters. You can choose the size of each chunk, but I recommend making each one not too small nor too big. See my example for how I do it. You then search for any words in each chunk. If you find a word branching out, you strike it out, but still keep moving across the grid in chunks. This actually may reduce frustration more than the rest of the methods, because you are not scanning the entire grid. It is also more easy on the eyes. The trick is not to let your field of view wander out of your chunk. I found way more words this way, much more quickly than I did using all other methods.