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The Orange County Register Crossword Submission Guidelines

The Orange County Register, one of Southern California’s leading daily newspapers, welcomes crossword submissions from both new and established constructors. Crosswords appear in the paper’s weekly associated (community) newspapers across Southern California; combined, these weekly papers have a larger total circulation than The Register’s Sunday edition. Puzzles should be top-quality 15 x 15 crosswords that have never been published before, including on the Internet. Author bylines (in boldface type), photos, and mini-bios appear with the puzzles, and constructors receive copies of their published puzzles.

Basic Guidelines

Puzzles submitted to The Orange County Register must be thematic 15 x 15 crosswords and adhere to all the standard grid rules (rotational symmetry, no 2-letter words, no unchecked squares, and no isolated sections). The maximum word count is 78, and the maximum block count is 42. These limits may be slightly exceeded if the theme warrants doing so.


Puzzles must be consistent and have at least three theme entries, though constructors are strongly encouraged to include more. Themes relating to Southern California, Orange County, California government and pop culture, etc., are especially welcomed but not required. Puzzles with the same word repeated in several phrases or overused themes (colors, animals, etc.) will not be accepted unless they are executed in an original way. Please query me before constructing a puzzle with a California- or Orange County–related theme; please also query before submitting a rebus or puzzle with a particularly unusual theme. Your query should list the theme entries with clues and include a brief description of the puzzle.

Nonthematic Fill

Please do not include any references to death, drugs, sex, or diseases in your theme, fill, or clues. Use moderation with edgy pop-culture references—in general, try to stick with familiar words, phrases, and names. Keep uninteresting obscurities (such as African antelopes and all the various shorebirds) and crosswordese (e.g., ESNE) to a minimum. Please do not include more than two partial phrases (I LEFT, IN THE, etc.) per puzzle. Partial phrases may not be longer than five letters. Also, only the most common variant spellings and foreign words are acceptable. Finally, be sure not to include a word or part of a word more than once in a puzzle—for example, if you use the entry SUN RAY, SUNLIGHT may not also be used.


Please make the clues at about a Monday to Wednesday New York Times difficulty level. Try to use original clues wherever possible and avoid using more than a few one-word clues per puzzle. Be sure to include an appropriate balance of straight definition, fill-in-the-blank, and easy punny and question mark clues.


Only e-mail submissions will be considered. Please send your puzzle to David Steinberg at as a Crossword Compiler (preferred), Across Lite, Crossdown, or CrossFire file. If you can’t send your puzzle in any of these formats, type the puzzle into the body of your e-mail using periods as blocks and include the clues below the puzzle. I will try to respond within two weeks, though that may vary depending on how busy I am. If you haven’t heard back after two months, please send me a follow-up e-mail.


Payment of $50 will be made upon publication.

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