There are many, many puzzle types out there which have clues decoupled from the entries. In a standard crossword, you know exactly where a word should go once you read the clue, but in these puzzles that detail is left for you to figure out. Nathan Curtis in particular has been making a lot of these puzzles (see for instance this really good Trail Mix puzzle) and I’ve been enjoying them, but they are mostly offered in PDF format only. Frankly I believe this is holding these puzzles back from further popularity, as lots of solvers don’t even have printers, let alone the patience to print out a puzzle and do it on paper.
Luckily, a solution exists, in the form of a hidden feature of the wonderful squares.io. It turns out if you add a
fakeclues=true attribute to an iPuz file, squares will decouple the clues from the entries, allowing you to enter a word anywhere for any clue. Squares is the ideal location for such puzzles to run, as they offer the ability to enter guesses next to the clues, so you can write them “in the margin” before putting them in the grid.
But how do you make such an iPuz? Well, good news — we’ve got a tool for that.
This sheet might look familiar — it’s built on similar technology to the collaborative cluing sheet but is specifically geared toward making this type of iPuz file. I really want to see more digital versions of these puzzles. Bring them on! And let us know if you make anything using this tool.