Common Puzzle Types

While many Puzzlehunt puzzles are entirely unique, others are often twists on traditional puzzle types. You may find it useful to become familiar with these common puzzle forms. In this document, the term enumeration refers to a number representing a word's length (example: Number representing word length (11)).

Anacrostic / Double Crostic


A message is broken up into pairs, triplets, or quads of letters. These groups are then sorted alphabetically, and the solver must reconstruct the message by rearranging the groups (but not the letters within each group). Enumerations may or may not be provided.

Example: ANE AQU NAN OFA OTE PLE SIS THI XAM (4 2 2 7 2 2 8)

Connect the Dots

A series of points which create a picture when connected in a specific order. Basic puzzles have numbered dots which are connected sequentially.


Cryptic Crossword

In this form of crossword, each clue has two parts: a straightforward definition, and a bit of wordplay that results in the same answer as the definition. The type of wordplay is often hinted at by key indicator words within the clue. The surface meaning of the clue is irrelevant. Cryptic clues almost always come with enumerations. Unlike traditional crosswords, many squares of cryptic crosswords are unchecked (used in only one answer).

Wikipedia has much more information, including some very helpful explanations of the various forms of wordplay found in cryptic clues and how to recognize them.


Also known as a simple substitution cipher, a cryptogram is a message in which every letter has been replaced by a different letter or symbol, with the same replacement used for every instance of a letter. Sometimes the important information isn't the message itself, but the cipher key used to encrypt the message. Since solvers exist on the web, cryptograms are generally considered uninteresting for Puzzlehunt and are rarely used.

Drop Quote

The letters for a message have been removed from a grid and placed in an arbitrary order (often alphabetically) above their respective columns. To solve, reconstruct the message by moving each letter down into one of the white squares in the column beneath it.

Kakuro / Cross Sums

Logic Grid Puzzle

A series of statements are given involving various components-people, places, things, etc-with the object of figuring out which components combine (e.g. “Who sat where, and what did they eat?” or “Who was the oldest?”). The clues provide just enough information to deduce a complete solution by creating a grid of all possible combinations, filling in the known bits of data, and extrapolating from there.

Paint By Numbers / Nonogram

Numbers appear beside each row and column of the grid, representing lengths of groups of consecutive filled cells in that row or column. Each group is separated by at least one unfilled cell. Solvers must use logic to determine which cells to fill in, ultimately creating a picture.


Perhaps most famously used on the television game show Concentration, a rebus is a series of pictures and letters which combine to form a message. Some rebuses are phonetic, with each picture representing the sound of the word it represents (OAR + EIGHT = ORATE). Other rebuses are letter-based, with each picture representing the sequence of letters of its word (C + HAIR = CHAIR).

Slitherlink / Fences


Word Search

A set of words or phrases are hn in a grid (or other shape) of letters. In a basic word search, each answer appears exactly once in the grid, reading in a straight line in any direction. Letters can be used in multiple answers. Often, the unused letters spell a message.