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What Makes a Good Crossword Title?

Most high quality crossword puzzles have titles on them – the Daily Beast puzzles of course have them, as do the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and USA Today crossword puzzles. The glaring exception is The New York Times, which only uses headlines on its Sunday puzzles, but that could potentially change at some point in the future. Headlines are just too useful and fun to leave out forever.

So what is a puzzle writer trying to convey with a title? As with a novel or a movie, this should be an appetizer intriguing enough to whet your appetite for the solution. It doesn’t have to be funny, but a little humor doesn’t hurt. And finally, a good headline can give you a clue to the topic, but not one so obvious that it spoils the fun; normally, the meaning of a good title will only be clear after completing the resolution.

My favorite title from last week’s puzzles was “Kicking King” for Tuesday’s tribute to Diego Maradona, which has a fun echo to the theme while being an apt description of the soccer star. Other fun recent headlines include “People Person” on November 22, where you don’t realize “People” is the name of the magazine until you figure it out; “Shore Story” from November 12, playing on the term “short story”; and the goofy “Puns Batted In” on October 25 with his puns on the names of the two World Series teams.

Have you seen a title you like, on our puzzles or elsewhere? Tweet it at #beastxword and we’ll all be laughing.

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