Printable Cryptogram Puzzles
Challenge yourself, your students or your kids with one of our printable cryptogram puzzles. We have chosen themes, quotes, and vocabulary that make these puzzles excellent tools in the classroom or just for the fun of learning. If you think of a theme or subject you would like to see a cryptogram puzzle for, let us know and we should be able to put one up to please you.
What Are Cryptograms?
There are many ways you could write a secret code, and indeed some very complicated schemes for encrypting information are used all of the time. But we are here to have fun, so all of our cryptograms are simple substitution ciphers.
In a substitution cipher, each of the letters in the original message is systematically replaced by another letter. So for example, all of the A's in the original message might be replaced by M's in the encrypted message. Anywhere there is an M in the encrypted message, you would replace it with an A to return to the original message.
How to Solve Cryptograms
Here are a few tips that should help you get started if you are unfamiliar with this sort of puzzle. If you were to just start doing the puzzles, you would find yourself naturally discovering these and other strategies as your code cracking skills improved.
Pencil in a possibility. Fill in all examples of that letter in the puzzle, then see if you have created a dead end and need to go back. For example, say you have decided that the letter Z is an I, but then you discover that one of the encrypted words reads XZZ. You know that there is no word in the English language that ends with two I's, so you need to find a different substitute for the Z.
Consider letter frequency. Typically, the most common letters used in English are: E, T, A, O, I, and N. These will be the letters you are most likely to find in most cryptograms.
Solve any single letter words first. In English the only single letter words are A and I.
Look for common, small words next. The most commonly used words in the English language in order of frequency are: the, of, and, to, in, a, is, that, be, it, by, are, for, was, as, he, with, on, his, at, which, but, from, has, this, will, one, have, not, were, or, all, their, an, I, there, been, many, more, so, when, had, may.
Look for contractions and possessives. There are only a small number of letters that might appear after an apostrophe and some have a recognizable pattern. For example if you saw the encrypted word QD'NN, you would know that the N is an L, because there is no other possibility in English.
The term cryptoquote simply refers to a quote that has been encrypted. Some of the following substitution ciphers are from our new book Cryptograms: 269 Cryptoquote Puzzles. As a special introductory offer, you can print out quite a few pages from this book for free and see if you enjoy solving them. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and we have also made it into a printable PDF that you can download straight away.
Cryptograms for Kids
These cryptogram worksheets would be good for students from about 6th grade on. They can make a fun handout if you are studying the various topics we have included.