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How to Create Your Own PDF Word Search or Crossword Puzzle Activity Sheet for Free (Hubnugget winner)

Updated on July 2, 2011
Photo by alvimann @
Photo by alvimann @

Make Your Own Custom Word Search and Crossword Puzzles

Word search puzzles and crossword are a popular pass time for people of many ages. These steps will show you how to create your own word search and crossword activity sheets in Adobe Acrobat PDF format using your own custom list of words.

The PDF format is a standard for downloadable documents on the internet because they are quick and easy to download and print. These instructions use simple, free online utilities and free software to create a PDF word search.

The PDF format is also a standard at self-publishing websites like If you create a collection of activities, you can use Lulu to publish and sell your own activity book for free. Lulu even offers you the opportunity to sell your finished book on!

Input your list of words and choose the size of your puzzle.  (Click images to enlarge.)
Input your list of words and choose the size of your puzzle. (Click images to enlarge.)

Generating Your Word Search

Go to the Instant Online Word Search Maker, a free utility that will create a custom puzzle using your list of words.  Input your list of words, putting each entry in as a separate line in the text input box.  If desired, you can also choose custom dimensions for your puzzle.  If you don't specify dimensions, the word search generator will automatically choose a size for you based on how your words fit best.  When you are finished making your word list and choosing dimensions, click on the "Create Puzzle" button.

Paste a screenshot of your puzzle into an image editor and crop so that only the puzzle remains.
Paste a screenshot of your puzzle into an image editor and crop so that only the puzzle remains.

Saving the Word Serch as an Image File

To create your PDF word search activity sheet, you will need to save the word search as an image file. The first step is to capture an image of the word search on your screen, called a screenshot. Make sure the entire puzzle is visible on your computer screen and that your mouse cursor is out of the way. Find the "Prnt Scrn" button on your computer's keyboard and press it.

Next, open your photo editing software. (If you do not have a photo editing program, IfranView is a nice, free image editor that works perfectly for this project.) Click on File > Paste and the image of your crossword puzzle should appear. Use the photo editor's cropping tool to remove everything but the puzzle itself from the image.  Save the cropped image as a JPG or GIF file.

Preview your document before saving to make sure the elements are well-centered on the page, both horizontally and vertically.
Preview your document before saving to make sure the elements are well-centered on the page, both horizontally and vertically.

Creating Your Word Search Document

Open your word processor program. For this example, I used Microsoft Works Word Processor, which comes standard with the Windows operating system.

Insert your word search image into a new document and resize it so that it is as large as possible while staying within the margins of the page. Below the puzzle, but and paste a list of your words below the puzzle.  Copy and paste the list from below the puzzle on the generator website.  In some cases, not all of your words will fit into the puzzle, and the list on the page with the finished puzzle will show which words are in the puzzle.  This list will also automatically be alphabetized.

You will need to save the document as a Microsoft Word DOC or DOCX file to use the free PDF converter. When saving your document, there will be a drop-down menu of file types to choose from. Choose DOC or DOCX, name your file, select a folder in which to save it, and click on the save button.

Scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the free DOC to PDF converter tool.
Scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the free DOC to PDF converter tool.

Converting DOC or DOCX to PDF for Free

While the Adobe Acrobat Reader utility is a free download for viewing PDF files, the software that creates PDFs (Adobe Acrobat) is expensive. Luckily, there is a free online DOC to PDF converter which allows you to convert DOC or DOCX files into PDF files without installing any software.

Scroll to the bottom of the DOC to PDF converter page to find the free converter utility.  Click on the "Browse" button and select your DOC or DOCX file, then click on the "Convert Document" button.  A window will pop up asking if you would like to open or save the PDF file.  Choose the save option to save the converted PDF file to your comuputer.

Generating Your Own Crossword Puzzle

Go to the Instant Online Crossword Puzzle Maker and input your words and clues into the text box.  The puzzle generator will create a puzzle with a list of your clues in order.  Use the same technique as with the word search, taking a screenshot of the puzzle and turning it into a PDF document.

Sharing Your PDF Word Search or Crossword Activity Sheet

Once your finished PDF file is saved to your computer, you can upload the word search activity sheet to the internet to make it available for download. If you have your own website with file hosting, you can upload you word searches directly to your website.

If you don't have a file hosting package, look for a file hosting service that allows you to upload your files and make them publicly available. is a good example of this type of service. Their "Lite" package is free and allows you 1 GB of file storage space with the ability to generate sharing links for websites, blogs, and forums.

If you create a collection of activity pages, you can also publish your own activity book for free using Through their website, you can even sell your coloring book at!


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    • rhondarowley profile image

      Rhonda Greene 5 years ago from Manistee, MI

      Unfortunately I only know my way around a PC. You should be able to find similar free resources for Mac though, I would Google it.

    • profile image

      nnn 5 years ago

      I need it 4 da iMac

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks for this information. I used to love making these as a kid by hand and would love to make some for my nieces and nephews - this online option will make it easy!

    • profile image

      jody vaughan 6 years ago

      want to make my own word find with paper and pen for my fiancia whos in prison... any ideas on how

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      These ideas are fantastic. A custom word search or crossword would make a great party favor or birthday card, too!

    • profile image

      Paula Gretchen 6 years ago

      COOL! Thanks!

    • Hummingbird5356 profile image

      Hummingbird5356 7 years ago

      This is a very good hub and I will use this. I am teaching a German girl English and she likes quizzes and crosswords and this will be ideal in making crosswords to her ability. The ones I have seen in the shop are too difficult or include things which she cannot know having only lived here for 3 months.

      Thanks and congratulations on your nomination for a Hubnugget.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Rhonda- nice bumping into you again. It looks like you are well on your way as a hubpage writer! Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. What an interesting hub. Good luck to you.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      How interesting - and since I love crossword puzzles, right up my alley! Congrats on the nomination!!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Official Announcement: One of the nominees of The Games, Toys and Hobbies Category for Hubnuggets goes to rhondarowley ! You are a Hubnugget Wannabe!

      This link will take you the Hubnuggets where you can cast your vote...and promote your hub to your friend so they can vote too. Even non hubbers can vote.