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Search for hidden words in a grid of letters
A word search, word seek or word sleuth puzzle is a word game that consists of seemingly random letters arranged in a square or rectangular grid. The object of the game is to find and circle or highlight all of the words hidden in the grid as quickly as possible. Words may be hidden vertically, horizontally or diagonally within the grid. Words are normally arranged so that they can be read from left to right or top to bottom, rather than the opposite. Sometimes a list of hidden words is provided, but more challenging puzzles may let the player figure them out. Most word seek puzzles also have a common theme to which all the hidden words are related.
Word searches are commonly found in daily newspapers and puzzle books. Some teachers use them as educational tools for children, the benefit being that young minds can learn new words and their spellings by intensively searching for them, letter by letter, in the puzzle.
The best strategy to find all of the words is to go through the puzzle left to right (or vise versa) and look for the first letter of the word (if a word list is provided). After one has found the letter, he should look at the eight surrounding letters to see if the next letter of the word is there. He then can continue this method until the entire word is found.
Another strategy is to look for 'outstanding' letters within the word one is searching for (if a word list is provided). Since most word searches use capital letters, it is easiest to spot the letters which stand out from others. These letters are: Q, O, U, X, and Z.
Lastly, the strategy of looking for double letters in the word you are searching for (if a word list is provided) proves to help, because it is easier to spot two identical side-by-side letters among a large grid of random letters.
If a word list is not provided, a good way to quickly find words is to go row-by-row. First, all of the horizontal rows should be read both backwards and forewards, and then the vertical, etc.
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