Orange County Register Crossword Submission Guidelines
About the Puzzle
The Orange County Register, one of Southern California’s leading newspapers, publishes a top-quality, daily-sized crossword puzzle edited by David Steinberg in its associated newspapers each week. The puzzles do not yet appear online, but a book of them (“Juicy Crosswords from The Orange County Register”) was published in 2016. Outside submissions from both new and established constructors are welcome. Author bylines, head shots, and mini-biographies are printed with the puzzles; payment is $50. Constructors must sign a contract stating that their puzzles have never been published elsewhere.
Puzzles submitted to The Orange County Register must be thematic; the standard grid size is 15x15, though grids of slightly different dimensions (such as 16x15) may be allowable. Rotational (180 degree) symmetry is preferable, though left-right symmetry may also be acceptable. Submissions must adhere to all other standard grid rules (no 2-letter words, no unchecked squares, and no isolated sections) unless the theme involves breaking such conventions. The maximum word count is 78, and the maximum block count is 42. These limits may be slightly exceeded if the theme warrants doing so. Submissions may be of any difficulty level, and puzzles with rebuses and circled squares are welcome! Titles are not necessary.
Puzzles must have at least three theme entries, though constructors are strongly encouraged to include more. Themes relating to California are appreciated but not required. Puzzles with overused themes (e.g., colors) will not be accepted unless the themes are executed in novel ways.
Nonthematic Fill Guidelines
Try to stick to familiar and pleasant words, phrases, and bits of pop culture—as a rule of thumb, if you have reservations about using an entry for any reason, try seeking an alternate piece of fill. Graphic and explicit medical, drug, and sex references (including many disease names) are not allowed. Only two partial phrases (such as IN THE) may be used per puzzle; these partial phrases may not be longer than five letters. Finally, be sure not to include part of a word more than once in a puzzle—for example, if you use the entry SUN RAY, SUNLIGHT may not also be used.
Clues should be written at a level that is consistent with the puzzle’s perceived difficulty. Try to write as many original clues as possible, and avoid using more than a handful of one-word clues per puzzle. Humorous clues involving wordplay are always welcome, even in easier puzzles.
Crosswords in any stage of development (including theme queries) will be considered, though please do not send more than three at a time. Submissions must be sent electronically to ocregistercrosswords AT gmail.com as a Crossword Compiler (preferred), Across Lite, Crossdown, or CrossFire file. If you can’t send your puzzle in any of these formats, type the puzzle into the body of your e-mail using periods as blocks and include the clues below the puzzle. Response times vary depending on the time of year—if you haven’t heard back after a month, please feel free to follow up.