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How Do Super Searches Work?

by emjane

How do the letters connect?

When looking for words in a Super Search, the letter triangles connect edge-to-edge, rather than point-to-point.

Let’s use this sample grid as an example.

A set of individual letters, inside triangular shaped boxes that nestle together to make three rows of letters.


These are all ways words can be found:

CAT (left to right)                                                                          

The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters CAT circled.               

HIP (right to left)      

The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters PIH circled.                   


TRAIT (diagonally to the lower right)                                                   

The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters TRAIT circled.       

HIT (diagonally to the upper left)

  The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters TIH circled.                              


TORN (diagonally to the lower left)                                      

The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters TORN circled.

PIT (diagonally to the upper right)               

The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters TIP circled.                         


These are NOT ways words can be found:

COB (every letter in the word does not connect edge to edge)

The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters COB circled from top to bottom..


BOUT (words cannot “turn corners”)

The same sample grid as the beginning has the letters BOUT circled, but not in a straight line.


How on earth do I approach solving one of these?

Every Super Search has at least one category that has a clearly limited set of answers, like “Months of the Year,” “Ivy League Schools,” or “Planets.” Though every item on these lists won’t be in the Super Search, they’re a great starting point, and you can treat it like you might treat a traditional word search list (though, remember, not EVERY word will be in the puzzle). As you’re searching for those words, you’ll likely find that others in different categories jump out at you. As you continue to find more words, a good tip is to look for words in large spaces where you haven’t found any yet. Though there are always some letters left – otherwise how would you find your code?—they won’t all be in a row!

You will need to work from a paper copy to solve one of these puzzles! Don’t have a printer? Stop by any of our library branches and we can print a copy for you!


What’s the deal with singular / plural? Why are there exceptions?

Answers are not plural, though there are a few key exceptions to this rule. Sometimes a word is only used in its plural form, like the word PANTS in the topic “Types of clothing.” Sometimes the answer is an idiom that only works with a plural answer, like HORSES in the topic “Things you hold.” And, lastly, sometimes the answer is a brand name or title that takes the plural form, like CHEERIOS in the topic “Cereal Brands.”


But wait! I don’t know “Pokemon” “Forms of Poetry” or [fill in the blank]!

Don’t worry! You aren’t cheating if you Google to find lists of potential answers. We recognize that not every person is going to be familiar with every set of words that appears in a puzzle and searching the internet for possibilities is a great way to fill in the gaps!


Hey! I found a word, but I don't think it fits in any categories!

You probably did! There are LOTS of words in these puzzles, and many are there unintentionally! Ideally, when you find a correct word, there shouldn't be doubt about whether or not it fits a category, though, of course, we're all bringing different vocabulary sets to the table. When in doubt, circle it in pencil (or make a note) and come back to it later. OR, see tips below about how to double check things with us.



Good news! It’s supposed to be a challenge! That’s why it’s rated truly AMBITIOUS! Like many word-puzzles, it can be helpful to walk away from it for a bit and return with fresh eyes. But, if you’re really stuck, email us at and we’ll do our best to jump-start you!


We're hearing from a few folks that they ended up with an extra letter in Super Search One! Though we extensively play-tested this puzzle, it's definitely possible that some of our SUPER SUMMER GAME PUZZLERS figured out another possible solution! If you still have your completed puzzle, can you send a picture of it to so we can try to PUZZLE OUT the problem and make it clearer for future players? (And if you've already recycled it, THAT'S OKAY TOO!!!)

And thanks for playing! We've got a FULL SUMMER of Badges (including TEN MORE of these puzzles) ahead!

Is there a name for these types of puzzles? I really enjoy them but can't find any like this with google

Last December, the New York Times had one of the cover of their annual Puzzle insert (created by Will Shortz), which they called...drumroll please...A SUPER SEARCH! I enjoyed it so much, I tried to find more and couldn't find any! So I decided to try my hand at making them myself.

But it would be wonderful if more crop up somewhere. They are a puzzle in themselves to make, but it would be nice to play some too! We've emailed the NYT Puzzle Department to say that if they HAPPENED to make more, we have a whole community of folks in Ann Arbor ravenous to play them!

Thanks for playing!

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