Anyone ever made a professional looking crossword puzzle? If so, what'd you use?

I wasn’t sure if this should be Cafe Society or IMHO so I’ll put it here and leave it in the hands of Mod.

I’m designing a really big crossword puzzle for a book festival I’m volunteering with. I’ve got the words and clues and I’ve tried several different free crossword design softwares and I’m not really happy with the results. They’ll do if I absolutely cannot find anything better, but they look like very obvious freeware; they’d be fine for a sixth grade lit quiz, but not so much for something that I want to look professional.

Anybody designed any big crosswords perhaps? And if so, what’d you use? I don’t mind paying a reasonable amount for a one time use, but I don’t want to subscribe to something that costs $50 per month when I really just want to use it once.

Thanks for any recs.

Ha! After reading the title I was prepared to tell how I created a Crossword Puzzle but after reading your description…

In my personal Christmas Card two years ago, I designed and created games in the card. I made a Jumble, a connect the dots and a Crossword Puzzle. But I created them the “old fashioned” way. By scratch, on paper. I didn’t even think about getting some software to do it for me. If I had, I’d probably would have avoided it. I had too much fun creating it on my own.

That’s an interesting question. IMHO what makes a crossword look professional is when the white and black spaces are mirrored across the puzzle. i.e. if the top row of a crossword is a 5 letter word, 1 black square, a 4 letter word, 1 black square, and a 3 letter word, the bottom row needs to be 3, 4, and 5 letter words respectively.

Most free or cheap programs don’t do that. There’s a reason why there’s a job called Crossword Editor. If it was easy, everybody could do it. :slight_smile: I’m interested in this thread to see what gets posted.

An interesting fyi from Cecil:

All through the Nineties, I wrote and sold crossword puzzles using software created by Mel Rosen. At the time, that was state of the art.

But by the time I gave up puzzle constructing, there were many software packages MUCH better than Mel Rosen’s (Mel admitted it). Some, like The Crossword Compiler would do 98%of the work for you, if you so desired. Seriously, all you’d need to do was enter your preferred dimensions and three or four lengthy theme entries. Then zap, the software would fill in everything else for you. And you’d have a finished, professional looking puzzle.

In case you haven’t seen this: might have some good advice to offer, as well as software.

Well, they certainly needn’t worry about me stealing their job. :wink:

I created a fairly large crossword back in the '70s. No software. It was a real bitch and took forever.

When I first got started, all I did was photocopy existing grids from newspapers, and fill in entries with a pencil.

And believe it or not, some VERY good constructors STILL work more or less that way.

But back when I was constructing, you’d never get more than $75 for a 15 x 15 puzzle. So, unless you worked REALLY fast, you were never going to make a living as a constructor. For me, it was just a hobby that brought in occasional date night money. (“Ooh, a check for seventy-five bucks just came in the mail… I can take my girlfriend out to dinner and a movie this weekend!”)

I’m not even sure what the OP means – what is a “professional looking” crossword puzzle? Are we talking the Sunday NYT, or something categorically different?

Probably something with normal crossword symmetry and with not many black squares.

My first impression was that he was talking about how the puzzle was typeset/printed, rather than how it was constructed; but I could easily be wrong.

Exactly. Most of the freeware crossword makers look more like a Scrabble board.

Being a graphic artist and typesetter at the time, I did that part too.