How To Solve Cryptogram Puzzles

Solving Cryptogram Puzzles are pretty straightforward.


Most cryptograms are short phrases or quotes that have been encrypted using a substitution cipher, where one letter is substituted for another letter, a number or symbol.


For example, the letter "I" in a phrase may be substituted with "E" in the puzzle. In this case, all instances of "I" will be written as "E" in the puzzle.


Example

In this cryptogram puzzle, each letter has been replaced by another.


E K V Z S, E A V M, E K G I T N S X S H. ~ Julius Caesar


There are several techniques used to decipher this puzzle. You must figure out what letters are substituted to crack the code and reveal the message. In this example, a good guess for the "E" would be "I." As you solve the puzzle, you end up with the famous quote by Julius Caesar, "I came, I saw, I conquered."

Use logic and your knowledge of the letters and words to crack the cipher and work out the message by figuring out which letter represents which.

Common Techniques

  • Look for common letters: See what letters appear most often in the puzzle and compare them to the list of most common letters in the language. For example, the most common letters in English are E, T, A, O, N, I, and S.

  • Solve the short words: Look for the short words containing one to three letters. Use your language knowledge to compare these to the most common one, two and three-letter words. The most common one-letter words are A, and I. English's most common two-letter words are OF, TO, IN, IS, AS, HE, BE, BY, ON, OR, and AT. English's most common three-letter words are AND, THE, FOR, HIS, NOT, BUT, YOU, ARE, HER, and HAD.

  • Spot repeated letters: Look for pairs of repeated letters. Only a few letters in the language are repeated. These are usually DD, EE, FF, GG, LL, MM, NN, OO, PP, RR, SS, TT, and ZZ.

  • Look for Digraphs: Look for two-letter combinations most common in the language. The most common digraphs in English are TH, HE, AN, IN, ER, RE, ES, ON, EA, and TI.

  • Look for patterns: Solving cryptograms often means taking educated guesses and looking for patterns in the letters and words. Look for repeating words such as in the example above from Julius Caesar.

Sharpen your pencils and have fun! Find some great Cryptogram puzzles in our catalogue.

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