Puzzle Authoring Requirements

This page augments the information on the ‘Write Puzzles’ page. To allow for maximum freedom in being creative, we try to keep this list of requirements small, but we’ve found that due to our particular hunt, these are things we’ll insist on.

The Structure of a Puzzled Pint Set

A typical Puzzled Pint puzzle set contains 7 puzzles total: a location puzzle, four main set puzzles, a meta puzzle, and a bonus puzzle (which may be unrelated to the theme and by a different author). Some months we have unique formats that break this, but these are generally done by repeat authors and is something to be discussed early in the process with the editing team.

Location Puzzle

The location puzzle is intended to be solved online by individuals, not teams, and thus should be one of the easiest puzzles in your set. It should solve to a simple, short answer that players will enter into the online verification form, which will then send them to the locations page. Remember, this puzzle is meant to entice pure beginners to come to the event, so give solvers lots of handholding, even before they click on hints!

As location puzzles are not printed by GC but solved by individual people, location puzzles may be longer than one page. They also may entail the use of more trivia lookups than usual, as we assume players will be solving near their computers instead of at a bar. If your location puzzle makes use of large images or requires color to solve, please state so on the puzzle so solvers know to look at their screens and not print out the puzzle. If you want to make a location puzzle that makes use of audio, video, software or other online-only features, please check with your editor first.

You will have a maximum of three hints that you’ll provide with your location puzzle. These will be on the web page alongside the location puzzle. These are restricted to not scare away newer players. Make sure your puzzle can be fully hinted in those three – keep it simple!

Main Set Puzzles

Physical Requirements

A Puzzled Pint puzzle should usually be one page (occasionally two) and use the standard US-letter 8.5 x 11 size. You may additionally create an A4 version for international use, if you’d like.

The entire set should not exceed 10 printed pages, including the one-page answer sheet, four main puzzles, meta puzzle, and bonus.

The set should not require anything other than standard cheap copier paper. No use of card stock, colored paper, transparencies, etc. is allowed. Our GC are all volunteers and need to cover printing costs out of pocket, so we’re committed to making everything as inexpensive for them as possible. As cool as it would be to have centrally-created custom printed puzzles (e.g. laser-cut pieces, wood, etc.), the logistics of getting them shipped to several dozen cities, some internationally, is prohibitive for a free monthly event.

No double-sided printing is allowed. In addition to being more expensive or time consuming to print, the distributed nature of our printing means it’s impossible to reliably ensure that the two sides will align correctly. To create double-sided puzzles, simply have solvers fold a standard page in half, making sure to have enough alignment markers in place for it to be reliable. You may ask players to trim paper margins with scissors if necessary.

Margins for puzzles must be at least 0.5 inches (13mm) on each side and 1-inch margins are preferred. Puzzles may be portrait or landscape, and may employ a mix of them within the set.

Puzzles requiring color printing are discouraged. Color printing significantly increases the cost for our GC volunteers. Puzzles that contain but do not require color are encouraged, but they must be fully solvable when printed in black and white.

You can assume that solvers have access to scissors and tape. Puzzles that require cutting and taping are allowed.

Puzzles should be easy to read, see, and solve in the dimly lit, cramped, and noisy conditions found in bars. Use large clear fonts, don’t require a lot of table space, and don’t rely on audio from the internet.  

Don’t rely on distinguishing slight differences in shading. Any shading less than 50% black (e.g. pure grey) will not show up at all on many printers, and telling the difference between 60% and 80% is likewise sometimes not possible. Stick to 50%, 75%, and 100% black.

Exceptions to any of these are possible, though rare. Please check with your editor about any special things you want to create.

Content Requirements

Based on feedback we’ve gotten time and again from players, the meta puzzle should generally be the easiest puzzle of the set (not counting the location puzzle). Beginners will be exhausted, drunk, or both by the end of the night. As a meta, it should make use of the answers from the previous puzzles, but not the location or any bonus puzzles.  

While adult themes are fine, please no pornographic or offensive content.

Finally, please: no red herrings. The puzzle should be easy, simple, and straightforward to solve, with no confusing, misleading, or obfuscating elements. We often find authors put these in to prevent power solving of puzzles by experts, but we’re targeting beginners who need the reinforcement of the seeing that their solve is working. Don’t worry about making your puzzle too easy for Puzzled Pint!


All puzzles should contain an attribution line of the form: “© 2023 CC BY-NC-SA Intl. 4.0 Your Name (Your City, Your State/Country)”. This is often small and in grey to be less noticeable but should be easily readable.

Multi-page puzzles should have page numbers (e.g. “Page 1/2”).

Bonus Puzzles

You may choose to provide a bonus puzzle with your set. It can be themed or not. If you do not provide one, we’ll provide one from another author.

Some cities use this as an “appetizer” puzzle for team members to solve for fun before the full team has arrived. As such, they should be relatively easy. Other cities use this as a “dessert” puzzle after a team has solved the complete set. In both cases, it is optional and untimed. Often, if a submitted puzzle doesn’t quite fit our requirements for the main set, we’ll make it into a bonus puzzle.

We encourage new puzzle authors to get a taste of puzzle design without committing to a full month by writing one-off bonus puzzles.


We want our GC to spend their time with the first-timers and beginner puzzlers, so generally, we prefer puzzles that experienced solvers can solve without any hints.

When submitting puzzles, we request that you create a set of step-by-step hints to help facilitate the playtesting process. Your editor can provide a template for doing so that allows testers to access hints without being spoiled. If you do not provide hints, your editor can create them for you.

Bug (Month-Themed Logo Image)

The top left corner of all puzzles should include the “bug” – a Puzzled Pint logo stylized for the month’s theme. The image is also used for promotional reasons on social media and the like. See examples of bugs from previous sets to get an idea.

The bug must:

  • Incorporate the Puzzled Pint pint glass logo and text in some form. Use the Deutsch (Gothic) font unless design dictates otherwise.
  • Include text to indicate the month and year of the set, use the Dakota font unless design dictates otherwise.
  • Be a PNG file, approximately 3” x 1” (75mm x 25mm).

If you don’t want to make the bug yourself, tell your editor as soon as possible and we’ll take care of it.

Polaroid Image

The Polaroid image is used on the website when the location puzzle is posted. A smaller version is also used to represent the month on the puzzle archive page.

  • It should reflect the month’s theme.
  • It needs to be square 220 pixels on a side.

Again, if you have no preference for this image, tell your editor and we’ll find something appropriate.

Copyright, Trademarks and Fair Use


When creating your puzzles, do not use copyrighted materials. This is the simplest and best strategy. For images, especially, make sure to use sites specifically that have public domain images.

Most things found on Google Image Search are under copyright. You can use the image search feature Tools->License set to “licensed for non-commercial reuse” to find acceptable images.


Trademarks generally include the names of popular properties and their logos. Avoid using any trademarks or service marks on your puzzles. Even when we have a theme like The Princess Bride or Doctor Who, you’ll note we never use the official name of the property or its logo on the published puzzle sets.

Fair Use

Fair Use will generally protect us from legal liability as we are transformative, use small portions of a work, and wouldn’t harm the property. However, we do not rely on this shield, it’s there only as a precaution. Whenever possible, do original work!

HQ and your editor has the final say on this. If we are uncomfortable with it, it must be removed.

More information on fair use: http://fairuseweek.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ARL-FUW-Infographic-r4.pdf


E-mail gamecontrol@puzzledpint.com for any questions or clarifications. Thanks for your interest in writing for Puzzled Pint!