Filling In the Blanks on Fill-It-In Puzzles: What They're About

fill-it-in crossword puzzle

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Many unique takes on classic crossword puzzles have shown up over the years. One of the most alluring is the premise for the fill-it-in puzzles. These are puzzles that take the crossword formula and completely defy its convention while delivering an equally challenging experience.

Fill-It-In Puzzles 101

Fill-it-in puzzles take on many different forms. Somewhat confusingly, they also have many different names. The names all explain the game’s simple premise—Use preselected words to fill in a puzzle. Common names include:

  • Fill it in puzzles

  • Fill in puzzles

  • Word fit puzzles

A Crossword With No Clues

Unlike a regular crossword puzzle, fill-it-in puzzles do not provide clues for the missing words. Instead, the puzzle lists every word to complete it. The challenge is that you need to add all the words into the puzzle. In fact, that’s the main point. In other words, you don't need to find words. You just need to place them correctly.

Deduce the right order and placement of the words to accurately fill every box in the puzzle.

You need strong reasoning skills to play fill-it-in puzzles. But spelling, memory and trivia skills aren’t as important. A good comparison would be to think of these puzzles as a mix between Wordscapes and Tetris. You need to think carefully and plan ahead to fit the words together.

How to Play Word Fit Puzzles

The breakdown for how to play fill-in puzzles is really easy to understand.

  1. Look at the provided word list. Note how many words and how many different word lengths there are. 

  2. Find a starting point in the puzzle and add your first word from the list. The starting point can change and depends on the puzzle’s design.

  3. Add more words by checking the adjacent down and across squares. Words will share letters, just like a regular crossword puzzle. So, check the first word against potential words in the word list to find the next word.

  4. Repeat the previous step until you fill every square in the puzzle.

Where to Play Fill In Puzzles Online

As fill-it-in puzzles are so similar in design to crossword puzzles, they are relatively easy to make and distribute. You can find several apps and websites with their own custom puzzles. This is a sampling of the better apps and sites if you want to play word fit puzzle games.

  • Fill-Ins: Available as an app and website, Fill-Ins provides simple and quick-play fill-it-in puzzles. You can change the difficulty settings, too. Choose to play in your browser or download the app for Apple or Android devices.

  • Word Fit : Fill-it-in: This mobile game is similar to Fill-Ins. The gameplay is simple and gets to the point. The big noteworthy difference is this app is exclusive to Apple iOS devices.

  • Word Fit!: This game is different from the others on this list, because you don’t play these word fit puzzles online. Instead, the site provides printable fill-it-in puzzles to play using a pen and paper. That way, you can enjoy them just like a traditional newspaper crossword puzzle.

Achieve Full Victory With These Tips

One change to the crossword puzzle formula makes completing fill-it-in puzzles a unique process. To solve these puzzles, especially the more difficult ones, you need to have a strategy. Here are some handy tactics you should keep in mind as you play.

  • Figure out the best starting point. Some puzzles provide starting letters, a single letter set somewhere in the puzzle. For those puzzles, use a word that fits the word length and contains the same letter in the same position as the starting letter. 

  • For puzzles that don’t provide starting letters, your best option is to see if a word in your list has a unique length. Add that word to the puzzle first and let it be your starting point.

  • Be fully aware of all words in the word list. Constantly look at the list. Try to absorb the words into your short-term memory. You can end up making a lot of mistakes if you try to fit one word into a row or column simply because you were too focused on the grid and forgot that a better word was available.

  • If multiple words can fit in a space, check their letters against the starting letters of words that will fit in an adjacent line. For example, if a three-letter word across could be either “and” or “ash,” see if it connects to a “down” word. There could be a “down” word that connects to the “across” word’s second letter. If your only option for the second word starts with an S, then the correct answer for the three-letter word is “ash.”

  • Accept that there will be a lot of trial and error. Sometimes, you will have no choice but to guess where a word should go. It's like solving a word scramble. When that happens, make your guess and keep moving onto the next words, but don’t lose track of what word you guessed. You might need to backtrack to that word if you run out of options later.

Other Game Remixes to Play

Fill-it-in puzzles are refreshing spins on the traditional crossword puzzle. That’s the great thing about clever game variations that people create. They are essentially the same as what you already know while also being completely different. Another game variant you should try is Clabbers. Clabbers is an unconventional and enjoyably hectic version of Scrabble. If you play Scrabble and enjoy the occasional challenge to convention, Clabbers can offer you a fun time.

Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.


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