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Crossword puzzles can help build your mind and improve self-control, language skills, and confidence.

Step 1: Start with easy clues across
Solve the easy clues first, starting with number one and moving ‘across.’

Step 2: Now move down
Begin with number one in the ‘down’ category and answer all you can in the first pass.

Step 3: Connect intersecting words
Progressing from the puzzle’s top left, fill in words that intersect with already completed answers.

Words that contain a lot of vowels are used frequently in crossword puzzles.

Step 4: Take breaks
Take a break periodically. If you try too hard, the obvious can seem unintelligible. When you return to the puzzle, note how quickly some answers occur to you.

Step 5: Check for anagrams
Check for anagrams in clues. Anagrams show up through descriptive terms or names that must be rearranged to divine the intended answer.

Step 6: Use the puzzle theme
Use words associated with the title of the puzzle.

Work with a friend – sometimes two heads are better than one when solving a crossword puzzle.

Step 7: Fill in the rest
Continue filling in answers, moving left to right and top to bottom.

Step 8: Practice and get better
Practice crosswords to get better. The more puzzles you do, the more familiar you’ll be with standard puzzle clues and answers.

Did You Know?
People who work on crossword puzzles more than four times a week may be less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.