photo of hand

"Here's to ..."

Why give a custom puzzle? A custom crossword sends a message - a message of love, hope, or anything you'd like to say. It can include the names of your children, students or best friends. It can take you back in time to that family vacation, or remind your spouse of when you first met.

Consider one for a ...

    • Teacher, Mentor or Coach
    • Retirement Party
    • Engagement Proposal
    • Wedding / Rehearsal Dinner
    • Family Reunion
    • Corporate Retreat "Icebreaker"
    • Special Birthday
    • Special Anniversary
    • Get Well gift

Not ready for a custom puzzle? See the "More" tab for T-shirts and other gifts for your crossword fan.

Elizabeth crafts customized, American-style crossword puzzles of any size. She would also be glad to talk with you about writing a subject-matter-specific puzzle for your monthly or quarterly publication.

Stay Sharp

Grab Readers' Attention

Adding a customized crossword puzzle to your publication can yield susbtantial benefits in readership and reader involvement. See Stanley Newman's article.

Ask me for Publication Specs

Ask me for Publication Pricing


The modern crossword puzzle first appeared in 1913, and was a national craze by the 1920s. They are still a fixture of American culture. Most newspapers carry at least one daily puzzle, and they are enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.

Not So Simple.The crosswords you see in books and newspapers meet exacting standards for symmetry and composition. Those who solve crosswords regularly have an intuitive understanding of these rules, but may not realize all that goes into a puzzle's construction.

Rules of Construction

A close cousin: "Crisscross" Puzzles.Crisscross puzzles look like a Scrabble game. They're popular in grade schools as "vocabulary" puzzles.


A crisscross is not a good substitute puzzle type for the real crossword fan. However, I do offer these puzzles when they make sense. They take less time to solve and are entirely subject-specific, so they make great table activities for a reception.

There are sites where you can generate a crisscross for free. I add value by 1) offering font and layout options; 2) handling production; and 3) helping you select and phrase clues.

old crossword

A puzzle from December 1913


Like the Puzzle in Your Newspaper. Your puzzle will meet American crossword standards and will look like the crossword in your local newspaper. Or if you prefer, we can break a few rules. You tell me what you want to convey; I will build the puzzle to meet your goals.

Your puzzle is an original work. You may use and reprint the puzzle as often as you like. You can expect:

  1. Up to 10 keepsake copies printed on acid-free archival paper
  2. An electronic file that you may use to print additional copies
  3. A file compatible with Across Lite, a free program that will let you solve the puzzle interactively on your computer
  4. The option to have your puzzle design printed on a T-shirt, mug or other gift item

Price is a Factor of Size and Style.Contact me if you would like me to consider donating a puzzle for a nonprofit fundraiser. I am glad to consider these requests if I have the time. Pricing for common puzzle sizes:

  • Daily Size (15x15). The size in most weekday papers, and a good size for the recreational puzzle solver. From $295; higher with tricky content, but slightly lower if I can find an excuse to charge less.
  • Sunday Size (21x21). I only recommend this option in specific situations. A large puzzle takes much longer to create. $785 and up.
  • Crisscross.Technically not a crossword, this puzzle type makes sense in some settings, such as a table game at a large party. $125 for puzzles with up to 30 entries.
  • Sudoku, Word Find. Contact me. They are not expensive, but you may be able to find sites that will create them for free.

Facebook Speaks

  • Beth: "A crossword puzzle with their names in it! Or the names of the grandkids. Or the phrases from growing up that still make you laugh, and only you and your parents know what's so funny!"

Follow these steps to order your puzzle.

  • Figure out what you want. Review the Samples online and/or contact me for additional ideas.
  • Contact me or complete a Questionnaire about the purpose and content of your puzzle, and the deadline.
  • Using your input, I will work with you to determine the best puzzle size as well as the cost and the time it will take. We will discuss the custom part of the puzzle. I won't agree to create the puzzle unless I know I can do it well, and up to this point you have made no commitments.
  • Review, sign and return the Agreement, which outlines this process. We will also talk about payment terms and when that is due.
  • My first deliverable for you will be a list of words I've included in your puzzle. After that, a proof copy of the final puzzle for your review. I recommend that you recruit for the proofing process a "test-solver" who is familiar with your audience, but not familiar with the word list. A short time later, your puzzle(s) will arrive!



Confidentiality Matters

Here are some common questions about Give a Crossword custom puzzles. If you don't see yours, please contact me.

Is my puzzle generated by a computer? No. Your puzzle is generated by a person who uses software to help place words in the grid. The software reduces the time it takes and therefore the cost of the puzzle, but the soul of the puzzle is in the input you provide, and in the choices I make during its design.

Why can’t more personalized words be included? Unlike a "crisscross" puzzle, the crossword format produces a tightly meshed grid that limits the number of possible solutions. This is the magic of a crossword, since any clue can be solved by solving the clues of the crossing words. But it also makes complete customization effectively impossible.

The words I don’t specify, where do they come from? I place your content on a grid and build the puzzle around it. Where possible, I select words that are meaningful to your audience. I use words that are in the dictionary or in common language, and I design the puzzle so that these words are interesting and lively, and have clues that your solver(s) are likely to enjoy.

Will I get a chance to provide input? Yes, you can be as involved as you would like to be. You will approve the puzzle’s theme before the puzzle is built, and you will have the opportunity to preview your puzzle.

How is pricing determined? It takes many hours to craft a customized puzzle. Pricing is based on my estimate of the time it will take to create a puzzle of a certain size, theme and level of difficulty. A large puzzle takes much longer than a smaller one. Creating a puzzle that is easy to solve actually takes more time than creating a difficult puzzle.

Do you create other types of puzzles? I offer American-format crossword puzzles and crisscross (vocabulary) puzzles. My computer will create a Sudoku or Word Find if you would like. For cryptics, UK and European-style crosswords and other puzzle types, I will refer you to a trusted colleague.

How long does it take? The minimum time is one week; that depends on what else is in queue and how prepared you are with your input. Order as early as you can.

Find me on Amazon ...

The 21x21 square puzzle below was created for two preschool teachers (one of them an avid puzzler) and the class parents. It contains the names of the children in the class, with clues that are unique for each child.

"Three's Company" (solution)

Sample Puzzle Solution

The custom content of this puzzle (student names) is shown in bold type. Clues used information provided by the parents, for example:

  • “Three-year-old who wears his PJs under his clothes so he will always be ready for bedtime.”
  • “Three-year-old who is named after a poet who inspired the name of a famous musician”

In addition to the names of the students, I included words relevant to the audience, such as BEACH BALL, NEMO, SHREK, and T SHIRT. Also, because a teacher was a Virginia Tech fan, I clued MASCOT as “HokieBird, for one.”

Relatively "Eco-friendly"


Elizabeth Hinshaw (Beth Hinshaw) has been solving crosswords for as long as she can remember, and has been constructing them professionally since 2005. Her puzzles have appeared in the New York Times and in newspapers across the country that subscribe to the Times puzzle syndicate. She donates at least 5% of proceeds to nonprofit organizations.



Gifts for the Puzzle Fan

An excellent crossword puzzle resource is From there, you can view discussion forums about puzzles from around the country. If you solve crosswords and have not already discovered the Games page of The New York Times, check it out.

Other Puzzle Sources (the competition)

I do great work, but you may also want to look around. For a custom crossword, select an author who has been published in 1) the New York Times, 2) the Los Angeles Times, or 3) The New York Sun (no longer in print). There are other quality sources, and excellent puzzle authors, but these venues are known for high standards. Particularly if you are looking for other puzzle types (cryptic, cryptogram, word search), see:

  • Puzzles by Trip Payne. Trip is a champion puzzle solver and well-known constructor.
  • Ben Tausig invites you to subscribe to a free weekly puzzle. He also does custom puzzles.
  • Brendan Quigley is known for his current, lively puzzles.
  • Roy Leban is a respected puzzle author and offers custom puzzles.


  • EHA_Crosswords. Put your crossword fan's name on a T-shirt along with a saying, puzzle photograph or even your custom puzzle. See the options on the right side of this page or contact me with questions.

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