16 Expert Word Search Solver Strategies

Invented by Norman E. Gibat 1968, word search puzzles were designed for relaxation and to sharpen pattern recognition skills. They’ve since become a popular mental pastime along with crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

If you’re new to word searches, you’ll want to start with the easier puzzles to get the hang of things. Then move on to the next levels on your way to becoming a word search expert. To help you get there, we’ve got some tips and tricks to master challenge.

Table of Contents

Ignore The Word List

Instead of starting with the word list, scan the puzzle to see what words jumps out at you.

Inspect Each Row

Scan each row – top down, bottom up, side to side and on the diagonal.

Pay Attention To Odd Letters

Look over the word list to find uncommon letters such as J, Q, B, X, Y, or Z then scan the puzzle to find them.

Find Letters That Pop To You

Mots of us are drawn to specific letter shapes, specifically round letters such as D, Q, and O. Try beginning your search with words that comprise those letters.

Spot The Double Letters

Words with double letters are easier to find since the two letters need to be adjacent to each other. If your word list has any, scan for double letter clusters to check them off the list.

Scan With A Pointed End

Whether it’s your finger, the tip of a pen or a toothpick, having a pointed end will direct and guide your eyes as you scan through the word search puzzle, keeping you focus on track.

Cross Off The Words Or Alphabets

Don’t forget to cross off strings of dead-end letters that do not lead to a formation of real words.

Change Your Perspective

Stuck on the last few words? Try flipping the page upside down to look at things from a different angle.

Widen Your View

Another tip if you’re stuck is to hold the page at a distance. Hopefully, something will pop out but at the very least, you’ll give your eyes a break.

Play With Colors

Some people may benefit from using different colored pencils to circle or cross out words.

Stay With The Theme

Almost all word search puzzles have a theme. If you’re coming up blank, dig into the theme topic a little more. Do a quick internet search, read up and come back to the puzzle with theme words fresh on your mind.

Search Multiple Words

Scan the puzzle with multiple words in mind instead of searching for one word at a time. Words that begin or end with the same letters/letter combination or have the same vowel sequence for example.

Include Verbal Cues

Saying the word out loud that you’re looking for just might give your eyes the boost they need to spot it.

Start At Both Ends

Instead of looking for the first letter in the word, start with the last letter. This can help you find those “backwards” words. Plus, some word endings, like “et”, “ey” or “ux”, are easier to spot than first letter combinations.

Take A Break

If you’re stumped, put the puzzle down and do something else…and don’t think about the puzzle! Sometimes your mind (and eyes) just need a break.

Practice Makes Perfect

You’ve heard it before and it’s true. Practice makes perfect. To help with that, we have a daily word search newsletter. Sign up to get new puzzles every day to sharpen you skills. Or start right now by printing out a new word search puzzle.