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About this site

Word Search Creator was originally an exercise in PHP - an opportunity to teach myself a bit more about working with arrays, generating PDFs and working with a database.

We hope that the puzzles produced from this site are:

  • FUN - that's surely one of the main reasons for doing these puzzles - to wile away a few minutes on something that's a bit of fun and keeps the old brain active.
  • EDUCATIONAL - many schools and other establishments use this sort of puzzle to help young minds learn new words and more importantly the spelling of the words in a fun and engaging way - I actively encourage such establishments to take advantage of what this site offers.

About the puzzle creator algorithm

You don't have to read this bit. Well to be honest, you don't have to read any of it, but this bit could be REALLY boring for you.

Based on an algorithm seen on a Commodore PET in the 1980s, I wanted to create word search puzzles where (i) the words all interlinked if possible, and (ii) they were contained in as small a grid as possible.

The puzzle creator starts by defining a grid that is (i) at least 6 cells square, (ii) a bit bigger than the longest word, (iii) bigger along one side than the number of words in the list divided by 4. It has to start somewhere and this seemed optimal to keep puzzle generation as fast as possible.

Each word (longest to shortest) is tested at a random place and in a random direction to see if it fits. After the first word, words are only tested around letters already placed which occur in the new word.

If all words cannot be fitted, the gridsize is increased and another attempt is made.

I'm sure there are other or better ways of doing it but this method seemed to fulfil the desire to keep the grid as small as possible and also to ensure all words interlinked.

Feedback welcome!


Please use this free resource when you want to and and as often as you want to. If you derive enough pleasure from these puzzles to consider making a donation to support the upkeep of the site and the development of new ideas, I would be very grateful.