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Los Angeles Times Specification Sheet

The Los Angeles Times Syndicate publishes 15x15 puzzles daily and 21x21 puzzles on Sunday.

Basic Rules

  • Puzzle words must interlock throughout; grid patterns must be symmetrical
  • Maximum word counts: 78 for 15x15, 72 for Saturday 15x15 themeless, 144 for 21x21.
  • Maximum black-square count for 15x15 puzzles is 43.

Submissions Format For Regular Mail

  • Standard typing paper (8.5 x 11) with name, address and social security number on the grid page and the first page of clues. Name on all other pages.
  • Hand-lettered grid acceptable.
  • Solving grid not required.
  • Clues to be typed on the left, no period after the numbers. Answer words to be typed on the right, aligned with their clues.
  • Start a new page for ACROSS clues. It isn't necessary to start a new page for DOWN clues.
  • Please double space.


1 Solver's pursuit PUZZLE
7 ___ Angeles LOS
11 Animal rights org. SPCA
Submission Format For E-mail

  • E-mailed puzzle files are acceptable in CC7 or earlier versions (Crossword Compiler for Windows) or Crossdown formats.
  • If you use CC7, under File/Crossword Information, please put your name in the Author field and your address and SS# in the Description field. Under Clue Properties, please check the "right-aligned" box, but leave the "with period" box unchecked.
  • If you use Crossdown, please be sure to put your address and SS# in the text of the e-mail itself. Crossdown puzzle files do not carry that information with them.

Do's and Dont's

  • THEMES should be fresh and consistently constructed. In general, avoid cliched themes (colors, animals, etc.), although a new approach to an old theme will be considered. Daily puzzles should have at least 3 theme entries, with a minimum of 33 theme squares. Sunday puzzles should have at least 6 theme entries. For THEMELESS puzzles, use plenty of lively, contemporary words and phrases. Avoid obscurities and (especially) obscure abbreviations. If you aren't sure about what's obscure, either (a) ask, or (b) don't use it. Difficulty level of clues and fill should be similar to NYT Wednesday/Thursday.
  • DIFFICULTY of daily puzzles can range from easy to moderate. In terms of The New York Times puzzle, that means no harder than Wednesday. Sunday puzzles should be of moderate difficulty, similar to Tues/Weds NYT
  • DON'TS: Two-letter words; overuse of three-letter words; clumsy, made-up or strained phrases; uncommon abbreviations; obscurities; tasteless or graphically medical entries, including most diseases; blatant drug references; crossword cliches (crosswordese), including but not limited to ERNE, ESNE, ANOA, AROA, etc. Avoid variant spellings in all but the direst constructing emergencies. Keep brand names and abbreviations to a minimum. Avoid long brand names. Keep foreign words to a minimum as well, and use only those the meaning of which is either well known or obvious. Avoid overuse of partial phrases. Those of more than 5 letters are not forbidden-however, avoid awkward constructions such as AS A FIDDLE, ROCK AND, etc.
  • ABOUT PROPER NAMES: Use of the names of people and places enhances a puzzle, especially when the names are drawn from all over: TV, movies, literature, music, science, etc. A variety of names scattered about the grid can challenge solvers and help expand their knowledge base. Too many names in a puzzle, in our opinion, turn it into a trivia contest. Please avoid overuse of people's names, or any other material that falls under the either-you-know-it-or-you-don't category. If you have no choice but to use a difficult name or place, make sure it doesn't cross something equally difficult in the grid. Always reference tough names.
  • CLUES: Wherever possible, clues should be timely, clever, amusing, fresh. Avoid long-forgotten actors, athletes, films, songs, events, etc. Make clues specific (i.e., not "Man's name"). Avoid overuse of one-word clues that are thesaurus synonyms. Make your clues picturesque, and vary their length.
  • REFERENCES: If you had to look it up, chances are good that we will, also, so cite your reference. If it's an unusual reference, enclose a copy of the page with your submission. Common sense should dictate when a reference is required. CC7 has a box in which you can enter a clue citation. Please remember to use it when appropriate.
  • SASE: Include a self-addressed return envelope with postage (loose stamps, so that unused ones may be returned to you). Folded puzzles are acceptable.

Mailing Addresses

Send all puzzles to:

Rich Norris
15063 Miami Rd.
Apple Valley, CA 92307

E-mail puzzle files to: xwordrich {at}

PAYMENT: Daily, $85; Sunday, $250.

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