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Almost all good crossword constructors use software to help them make high-quality puzzles. And a good word list, especially a good scored word list is of great use.
The XWord Info Word List has 178,009 entries scored from 5 to 60.
It's possible to make crosswords without such tools, but using them often results in cleaner, snazzier puzzles. Today's editors have extremely high standards, and a quality word list will help you produce the quality puzzles they expect.
We think our XWord Info Word List is the best and most useful word list you can subscribe to.
The XWord Info Word List keeps most entries at a nominal score of 50, but many have been upgraded or downgraded, based on Jeff's years of experience working with Will Shortz, Matt Gaffney, Peter Gordon, Stan Newman, Rich Norris, Mike Shenk, David Steinberg, Ben Tausig, Patti Varol, Brad Wilber, and other editors. Jeff erred on the side of keeping as many at 50 as possible, only downgrading entries that he believes will not be received well by a good chunk of solvers or editors.
Jeff tried to keep it very simple, with just a few levels:
|60:||Entries considered "assets" to a puzzle. Some are ones Jeff would happily seed a themeless with, and others are simply ones that he considers better than average.|
|50:||Generally fine entries (at least there's some argument to be made that they're fine). 50 point entries are generally pretty good.|
|25:||Three- or four-letter words that would be hard to defend as fine. These include entries specifically called out on at least one editor's spec sheets like partials, odd abbreviations, very esoteric names, etc. It also includes three-letter random Roman numerals.|
|20:||Five-letter entries that would be hard to defend as fine. (Generally, Jeff finds that short "gluey" entries are less offensive than longer ones.) Also, four- or five-letter random Roman numerals — Jeff finds these less desirable than three-letter ones.|
|15:||Random Roman numerals that are longer than three letters. This is personal preference — Jeff dislikes these guys enough to score them very low.|
|5:||Entries that Will Shortz has identified as "puzzle-killers," i.e., entries that will likely require a redo. Avoid at all costs!|
The scores are based on Jeff's experience, but every editor has his or her own pet peeves, and each publication has its own list of no-nos. Plus, you must always be careful to make every crossing fair. Two somewhat esoteric proper names might be perfectly fine on their own, but crossing them can result in a poor solving experience.
It's Jeff's intention to eventually score everything, but he's only scored entries of length = 3, 4, 5, so far. These are the most common lengths you'll need in a crossword grid, so this will get you 90% of the way to making generally clean grids.
Also note that some words have strange-seeming scores, i.e. 10 or 30. Ignore these for now. (Entries of six or more letters will be classified into these new score levels. Anything with a 10 or 30 is part of the in-process scoring.)
Our list will be continuously improved as new words get added, new puzzles get published, and scores get tweaked. You can download the most recent version any time, as long as you maintain your Angel status.
You can often get more colorful fill overall if you accept small gluey bits here and there. Setting your minimum score at 25 or 20 or 15 can often be beneficial in coming up with a grid that is both colorful and (mostly) clean.
First, download the XWord Info Word List and save it to Crossword Compiler (see below for the nitty gritty).
Then, set your minimum word score at 50 for your initial grid layout. If it is fillable, you can be sure that you're going to get cleaner fill than if you set your min score at 25 or 20.
If you want to combine the XWord Info Word List with your own personal one, you can do that through the "Word List" menu. Select your own list, and then use "Add Other Lists" to add the XWord Info Word List. You'll want to click "Use the added list's new scores" button.
ALWAYS MAKE SURE TO BACK UP YOUR OWN WORD LISTS! It's easy to overwrite files or accidentally delete them, so please BACK EVERYTHING UP! We cannot recover a file for you if you delete it from your computer.
Yes. Make sure you download the ".dict" version of the file. Then:
Years back when Jeff started his list, he subscribed to Cruciverb. They have a proprietary list that cannot be shared, so we've been very careful to strip out everything that's specific to Cruciverb.
Additionally, Jeff maintains a private "Jeff Chen's Personal List" that adds 36,308 excellent words scored at 60 points. These show up in Finder searches if you're an Angel subscriber but you need to buy the Jeff Chen's Personal List if you want to integrate them into your construction software. This list will grow over time as Jeff continues to add new words.
First, you need to have an Angel-level account. That costs $50 and gives you access to the XWord Info Word List.
Then, there is an additional one-time $200 fee which provides lifetime access to Jeff Chen's Personal List, as long as you maintain your annual Angel status. Jeff frequently adds new words and you can download the latest version whenever you want.
To make this additional payment or to ask questions, contact Jeff directly or
With some negligible discrepancies, yes.
With the XWord Info Word List, you're ready to go forth and make better crosswords. Have fun!