When compiling your own crosswords for submission/publication, you needn’t spend a cent on crossword compilation programs.  Below is an outline of the process one may use which is simple and free; it requires only your home computer.

CREATING crossword in Windows Paint


Open a new document page in Microsoft Works Word Processor >>  Select ‘Insert Table’ from the menu selection bar across the top of your screen (it looks like a small blank calendar).

Select your optimal grid size by changing the numbers in ‘numbers of rows’ and ‘numbers of columns’, e.g.; 13 x 13.

Select the size of your grid squares by changing ‘row height’ and ‘column width’, e.g.; 1cm x 1cm.

There is no need to ‘select a format‘.

This format allows you to create a free-form crossword of your own.  Make two grids exactly the same on your page; one in which to create your crossword, the second in which to insert your clue numbers, once your crossword is complete (should you opt to print and ink in your black grid squares – see below).


Use Size 8 text both to fill in your chosen words and your numbers. When filling in  words, use one letter to each square.  Place the clue numbers in the top of each numbered square.

It helps when creating your crossword to opt for a general theme, such as Easter, Farming, Business etc.  Your needn’t stick rigidly to this, but it helps both in the creation of the crossword and the solving of it by others.  If you are compiling the crossword for a particular type of magazine, try to keep at least half of the clues relevant to the magazine’s overall genre.


Option 1:   Replicate your number placement into the second grid, print both grids, then carefully (counting boxes from your first grid with word placement in it) ink in the black squares on the second grid (which should be empty but for clue numbers).

Option 2:  Copy/paste your second grid and open it in ‘new painting’ (little jar of brushes in top menu bar of your screen).  In this instance you will not need a second grid; simply copy paste your completed crossword, inclusive of clue numbers.

In PAINT select ’FILL IN’ in TOOLS (a tilting bucket of paint) >> choose BLACK as your preferred colour >> double click on each square you need filled.  The final step needs the ERASER option in tools.  Being careful not to erase your numbers or your black grid squares, erase all your lettering.  You should now have a ready to use crossword.  Save it, then click off the paint screen and your creation will open on your word processing page beneath your original grid.

Write up your clues beneath this in two columns; DOWN and ACROSS; remembering to match the numbers exactly to your solutions.

Write a numbered list of the answers, also in two columns beneath the clues.

Print all and your crossword is ready for submission or publication!

Should you desire pre-set crossword grids, ready for word insertion, these can be uploaded free from; (type into site search bar: crossword grids)  Save them, then copy/paste onto a documents page.

Update: August 2013

Having said all this, if Windows Paint is the only image editing program available to you and you are looking for something better, yet simple to use, an excellent software program to download is GIMP Image Editing Software. GIMP is an ‘open source’ program (which means it is developed by the people for the people and is free).  GIMP is easy to use and safe to download.  It is far superior (an understatement!) and has far greater scope and image manipulation elements than that of Windows paint; indeed one could easily say it does just about everything Adobe Photoshop does, without breaking your bank balance.  If your image editing software skills are limited to zero, simply dial up ‘how to use GIMP’ on youtube after downloading the program and there you will find dozens of tutorials to assist you in your editing and creative tasks!

© Tezi Magazine, February 2010