How To Solve Sudoku Puzzles

Sudoku is generally played on a grid of 9 x 9 squares. There are other variants of Sudoku with smaller and larger grids. 

Each puzzle contains nine rows, columns, and boxes.

Sudoku Grid showing nine rows horizontally

Rows (Horizontal)

Each row must contain numbers 1 to 9 with no repeats. There are nine rows in the grid.

Sudoku Grid showing nine column vertically

Columns (Vertical)

Each column must contain numbers 1 to 9 with no repeats. There are nine columns in the grid.

Sudoku Grid showing nine 3 by 3 boxes or squares

Boxes (3 by 3 Squares)

Each box must contain numbers 1 to 9 with no repeats. There are nine boxes in the grid.

A Sudoku puzzle will provide some numbers for you. 

To complete the puzzle, fill the empty squares with a missing number according to the following rules: 

1.  Each row, column, and box must contain all the numbers from 1 to 9.

2.  Each number from 1 to 9 can only be in each row, column, and box once (no repeats).

Once the puzzle is solved, each row, column and box will contain every number from 1 to 9 only once as seen in this example solution.

Sudoku Puzzle Example

Example Puzzle

Sudoku Puzzle Solution Example


Handy Tips To Get You Started!

Start with easy puzzles: If you’re new to Sudoku, it’s best to start with easier puzzles. These typically have more numbers already filled in, known as “givens,” and require fewer “logical processes” to solve the puzzle.

Look for the obvious: See if you can find rows, columns, or 3x3 boxes where a number can only go in one place. For example, if the row, column, or box already contains the numbers 1-8, the empty square must be 9.

Scanning: As you complete the puzzle, routinely check all the rows, columns, and boxes. Each number you place helps make subsequent numbers easier to identify. Be methodical and patient - sometimes, the numbers will fall into place.

Marking up: Don’t be afraid to write small pencil marks in the empty squares to help you keep track of possible numbers. For example, write down both numbers if you’re unsure whether an empty square should be a 5 or a 6. As you progress, these marks will help you eliminate possibilities.

Process of elimination: Figuring out where a number cannot go is also valuable information. If you’ve marked up your puzzle, you can easily see when a number gets ruled out, which might tell you what other empty squares in the row, column, or box should be.

Double-check your work: If you have filled in a number, there should be a solid reason why that number is in that position. Regularly check to ensure each number appears only once in any row, column, or box.

Practice regularly: Sudoku is a game of logic rather than math and does not involve guessing! With consistent practice, you will develop or enhance the necessary skills required for more challenging puzzles. These skills include observation, logical reasoning, problem-solving, memory, concentration, and pattern recognition.

Sharpen your pencils and have fun!  Find more great puzzles in our catalog.