The Online Library Of Acrostic Puzzles
What is an acrostic puzzle, you ask?
Each letter in the answers corresponds to a letter somewhere in the quote, and vice versa. So as you type in an answer, the letters will also appear somewhere in the quote. And as you type letters into the quote, they will appear somewhere in the answers.
The illustration shows the first answer filled in, and part of the quote grid. The M from the answer appears toward the right bottom of the quote. The I appears toward the upper left of the quote. And so on (some of the letters are in other parts of the quote not shown here). How the letters fall is different for each puzzle.
Acrostic puzzles also give you another clue. The first letter of each answer is shaded. When the puzzle is complete, you can read down the grey column to get the author and title of the work from which the quote is taken.
In this example, the first letters of the first three answers answers in the puzzle indicate that the author's name starts with MOU.
The fun of acrostics is that you can work on the answers and the quote at the same time. As you figure out some clues and type in the answers, words will start to form in the quote, and by guessing what the quote says, you get hints about the answers.
The author and title in the first column of the answers give you yet another way to attack the puzzle. Using all angles to help you, you can solve the puzzle.
If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, get your puzzles to go! Crostix for iOS is available on the App Store. Download it in iTunes, or buy it right on your phone, and start solving acrostics on the subway, in the checkout line, while listening to conference calls without a clear agenda -- you name it. With an expanding library of acrostic puzzles, Crostix will keep you puzzling for hours.
If you want to kick the tires, a free version with a handful of sample puzzles is also available.
To Android and Blackberry users, our profoundest apologies. :( We haven't had the time to port the puzzles to other platforms. If only there were a million hours in each day, a lot of things would be different. For better and for worse.
For questions about the iOS app, see the FAQ.
We'll use the puzzle called Crostic Instructions, shown below, to illustrate how to solve an acrostic. A hint: The quote contains instructions for acrostics!
First, we read the clues, and answer the ones we think we know. Below is how the screen might look after filling in two of them.
As we type in the answers, each letter appears somewhere in the quote grid, which will ultimately contain the quotation we are trying to solve. In the example, you can see how the letters from the answers we typed show up in the grid.
Though it might look similar, the grid is not a crossword puzzle. Reading vertically down the columns would give you gibberish. Instead, read the quote as you would a book, one line at a time, horizontally.
The end of each word is marked with a dark square. Words can wrap onto the next line. Only a dark square will show you where a word ends. In the example, the first three words of the quote have seven letters, while the next word has only two, the next only one, and the next word six letters.
Looking again at the answers on the left, you see that the first column of the answers is shaded. This column will contain the name of the author and the work from which the quote is taken. In the example, the name of the author of the quote starts with "M _ _ N T".
Answering clues isn't the only way we can fill in letters. After working out some answers, the quote grid might look like this:
One word is _HE, another is T_E. Both of them might be THE. Of course, we're just guessing; the word _HE could be SHE, and the word T_E could be TIE. Neither of these strategies is foolproof, but they are often helpful.
Another word is L_TT__S; it could be LETTERS. Another is ___WER_; it could be ANSWERS. And so on.
Sometimes an extra letter here and there will be enough to suggest the answer. And even if we can't completely fill in an answer, we might be able to guess part of it. For instance, "Umbra" has something to do with shadows. If we see this:
the "H" suggests that the second part of the answer might be "shadow."
Now let's try another angle: the author and title in the first column of the answers. The author's name starts with: M_UNT. Wait a minute -- that's me! I wrote this quote. The first column must read Mountford, How To Do Crostics.
Of course, it's not always that easy, but sometimes the author or the name of the work become obvious. This helps greatly in finishing the puzzle, because it lets you fill the first letter of each answer.
Sometimes the author appears as both first and last name, sometimes an initial and last name, and sometimes, as in this case, last name only. It depends on the length of the name and the title.
We're really moving now. We've filled in most of the puzzle. But something's not right. The last word of the quote is COLU_Y. That doesn't look like a word. In fact, we might guess that the word is supposed to be COLUMN, and the Y is wrong.
How could we have a wrong letter? One of our answers must be wrong. Which one? If you put your cursor on the Y, the linked square will show in the answer column -- the Y in "Western City."
The fifth line from the bottom contains the non-word "Citle" And the C is also from the same dubious answer. Hmmm. A pattern is developing here.
If the C were a T, the quote word would be TITLE. Maybe WESTERN CITY should be WESTERN TOWN. We type CITY over TOWN, and voila! Our non-words are replaced by words.
Sooner or later, enough pieces of the puzzle come together that we can fill in the final few blanks, at which point we are rewarded with the message that we have figured out the puzzle.
If we get stuck, unable to make any progress, there's always a Hint. From the menu, choose Hint, and ask for either a single letter or a whole word (an answer if the main cursor is on the answer, or a quote word if the main cursor is on the quote). The final score will be a little lower depending on how many hint letters (which appear in red) were handed out.
Here are some questions we've been asked about the iOS app.
The short answer is, they don't differ much at all.
The full version, Crostix, comes with 150 puzzles built in. You can also buy more puzzles using in-app purchase.
The free version, Crostix Free has just handful of sample puzzles. You then use in-app purchase to buy puzzles. If you buy the first three books of puzzles, you will have the same 150 puzzles as in the full version, and pay the same amount of money. The two versions are otherwise identical, so it's up to you which way to go.
Yes, the same app works for both iPhone and iPad. If you buy puzzles on one device, they will be available on your other devices as well. The only caveat is that each device has a separate record of which puzzles you have done. So if you start a puzzle on one device, then switch to another device, you'll have to remember where you were.
Well, we wanted to give you your money's worth!
Seriously, though, one reason newcomers to acrostics find them hard is that they approach them only one way: by filling in answers to the clues. That's a good start, but remember that you have other weapons in your arsenal:
By trying all these approaches, you will find that even seemingly inscrutable puzzles eventually yield up their secrets. And of course, if you need a little nudge, try getting a hint for a single letter or a whole word, though each letter you reveal will lower your score a little.
Of course, just as some people think the puzzles are too hard, others think they're too easy. We try to grade the puzzles as to which ones will give you more of a challenge. Most of our puzzle books have a variety of difficulty levels, but a few of the books tend to be on the easy side, while others tend to be on the difficult side, as indicated in the description.
The standard iPhone pinching gestures switch between several font sizes. The default is medium size.
Ah, the backspace/delete controversy. Many people have asked about this. The key on the lower right of the keyboard is a delete key, which you can use to erase a letter you just mistyped. After using the tiny keyboard for a while, we think you'll agree that it's a necessity.
However, sometimes you want to highlight a letter and clear it out, and the delete key doesn't do that, which can be frustrating at first. Just remember to use the space key at the lower left of the keyboard for this, and you'll be fine. If you want to erase an entire word, press the little button to the right of the word.
We experimented with having both a backspace and a delete, but it was even more confusing that way. Of course, if you have any ideas for a better arrangement, we're open to suggestions.
Sometimes, when trying to buy more puzzles using in-app purchase, you may get this error message:
This app was purchased by a different Apple ID. To buy this item with this Apple ID you must first purchase the app.
This usually happens when you have purchased the app while logged into the App Store with one ID, and are trying to use in-app purchase while logged in with a different ID. To fix the problem, you need to log in using the correct ID. Hopefully, the information below will help you do that.
The first step is to determine what Apple ID you used to buy the app in the first place.
This should bring up a dialog with information about the app. The Summary tab will show you what ID was used to purchased the app; it's listed as Account Name. This is the Apple ID you need to use when buying more puzzles using in-app purchase.
The second step is to check to make sure you're using the right Apple ID in the store.
If it's not the same as the one you used to buy the app originally, there's your problem. To switch to the right ID, tap on the Apple ID, select Sign Out, then tap Sign In to start using a new ID. Then try to buy puzzles. Hopefully it will work this time.
If you still have problems, feel free to contact us. Let us know what Apple ID you see in iTunes, and what Apple ID you're currently using on the device.
At the moment, there's no way to add puzzles yourself. However, we are interested in hearing from people with quality acrostic puzzles that we can incorporate into our growing library. In particular, if you make puzzles in foreign languages, we want to hear from you!
If you have other questions, feel free to contact us.
The Applications do not collect or store any personal information about you, or record the location of your device. The Applications and associated In-App purchases are available in Apple's App Store, and the Applications may provide links to review the app in the Store. The Applications do not collect or store any information from the App Store. Apple handles all financial transactions outside of the Application's view.
If you have any questions regarding privacy while using the Application, or have questions about our practices, please contact us via email at email@example.com.
On iPhones and iPads, the way to play our puzzles is with our app. But if you want to solve your puzzles on your computer, visit the full Web site. It uses a Java applet, which generally means you can't use it from smart phones and tablets. But it should work fine on a regular computer.
But wait, you say: If the app only runs on iOS, and the Web site doesn't work on mobile devices, what am I supposed to do on my Android or Blackberry device? Well, sadly, we don't have an answer right now, because we haven't had time to design an app for those environments. One day we hope to, but don't hold your breath; the to-do list of life is not short. :)
Brian grew up in Los Angeles, and worked for several years as an electrical engineer in the San Francisco Bay area. These days he lives in New York, working as a computer programmer.
Besides building the Crostix.com Web site and iPhone/iPad app, he keeps himself occupied by composing music, playing piano and organ, playing board games and baking desserts (from his mom's recipes, of course).