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Newsday Specification Sheet

The mission of the Newsday Sunday Crossword: to provide American newspapers with a crossword having broad appeal to all age groups, lively language, and free of unusual and obscure words. The guidelines listed below all stem from this mission.

If you are unfamiliar with puzzles edited by Stanley Newman, it is highly recommended that you review several weeks of Newsday puzzles, at, before submitting anything.

Things That Must Be Avoided

  • Themes involving repetition of the same word or rhyming words; themes whose answers are definitions of the clues
  • Themes involving name wordplay, wordplay where the theme entries are not otherwise related, or wordplay that is not consistently carried out
  • Overly exotic themes (two letters in a square, dropped letters, etc.)
  • Themes or theme answers that require specialized knowledge to understand or appreciate, such as the names of football coaches or Beach Boys tunes
  • References to death, disease, drugs, or sex
  • Overly regional references, such as subway-name abbreviations, names of small towns, and brand names that are not nationally known
  • Unusual or obscure words in clues or theme answers
  • Overused themes (like flowers, colors, animals, and parts of the body), unless you give them a new twist
  • Trite clues for words that can be otherwise defined in a lively, accessible manner

Things to Avoid Whenever Possible (in order of importance)

  • *** Unusual/obscure answer words
    You should consider a word unusual or obscure if it is unlikely to be seen or heard outside of crossword puzzles. An obscure rock musician or soap-opera actress is as equally taboo as a Eurasian mongoose or Phoenician goddess. Newsday Crosswords overall average less than 1% obscure words; your puzzle ideally should have NO obscure words. A puzzle will be automatically rejected if it has more than three obscure words.
  • Partial phrases with A (TAKE A, A DAY, etc.) - never use more than two per puzzle
  • One-word clues: never use more than 10% per puzzle
  • Combining forms and variant spellings; Uncommon forms of common words (REHELPED, INCLUDERS, etc.)
  • Common words that can be defined in only one common way (SRI, ALAI, etc.)

Things That Must Be Included

  • All puzzles must have an appropriate title and theme.
  • The title should not use any keywords that are used in the theme answers.
  • References for any answer whose source is not obvious, or an answer that is not easily looked up in a standard reference source.
  • Always provide a parenthetical subsidiary clue for "fill in the blanks" that are the names of song titles, books, films and the like, unless the work is extremely well known. "__ Rhythm" is OK, but add something like "(Clooney tune)" to "Botch-__".

Things to Include Wherever Possible

  • Non-theme clues requiring general knowledge of contemporary culture (names in the news, TV, books, pop music, sports, films, etc.), to be balanced with clues requiring general knowledge of traditional subjects (history, classical music and literature, etc.)
  • Common dictionary words defined with contemporary idioms ("Kept out of sight" for HID, "Chow down" for EAT, etc.)
  • Lively, evocative non-theme answer words (CHILL OUT, CBS NEWS, etc.)
  • "Extra-effort" clues: Straightforward clues that provide interesting information, particularly about frequently seen answers (ERIE is the deepest Great Lake, HOME is the last word of The Wizard of Oz, etc.). This is one of the hallmarks of Newsday Crossword; be sure to give sources for all such clues. You are encouraged to use CD-ROM or Internet references for clues, as long as you have verified their accuracy, and cite your sources.

Miscellaneous Guidelines

  • Maximum answers: 146.
  • Difficulty: GAMES three-star, or a few notches less than The NY Times
  • There should be as few extremely easy clues as possible -- save these for "fill-in-the-blanks". Puns and more devious cluing are welcome and encouraged.
  • Timely themes (for holidays, particular times of the year, etc.) are welcome, but should be sent six months ahead of time.

Submission Format

Standard editorial format (separate pages for blank diagram, answer diagram written in pencil, clues double-spaced with answers flush right) accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope (large enough and with sufficient postage for the return of your puzzles) to the Editor:

Stanley Newman
P.O. Box 69
Massapequa Park
NY 11762

You are encouraged to submit your puzzles on disk, but submit only in paper form until your first puzzle has been accepted, after which you should request file format guidelines from the Editor.



Payment will be made by the Editor in the month following publication, with a copy of your puzzle as published.

Payment covers all rights in all media.

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