Joe Ross' Guide to Solving the WSJ Meta with Excel

This is a place to learn about the Muggles community and some of the terminology we use. It also contains suggested strategies for solving meta crosswords, as well as a repository of all past WSJ crossword contests and solutions.
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KayW
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Re: Joe Ross' Guide to Solving the WSJ Meta with Excel

#41

Post by KayW » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:50 am

Joe and Inca - thank you!! I love the idea of completing the grid within excel - I seem to really fumble with the online puzzle-solving formats! I find it very cumbersome to switch from across to down and back, which I happen to do quite often as I solve. I also find it irritating to not be able to see all the clues at a glance on the screen.

I may go back and see if I can redo the latest WSJCC this way, since it looks like I am one of the few keeping Isaac company this week.

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#42

Post by Joe Ross » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:31 pm

KayW wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:50 am
I may go back and see if I can redo the latest WSJCC this way, since it looks like I am one of the few keeping Isaac company this week.

For anyone's use, here is A LINK TO THIS WEEK'S PUZZLE GRID set-up on Excel, per THESE POSTED STEPS. The password is GOWITHTHEFLOW.

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#43

Post by KayW » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:42 pm

Thanks Joe! Maybe reworking the grid will provide the kick in the butt my brain seems to need this week!

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#44

Post by KayW » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:42 pm

...and yes indeed that did the trick! When all else fails, rework the grid! This excel trick makes that super-easy. Thanks again Joe!

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#45

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:08 am

Used the 'transparent PDF' method on Excel, with cells formatted to fit the PDF's grid, this week. It's simpler & much faster to set-up & use.

EDIT 10/14/19: I will post a link to the WSJ Friday Crossword Contest spreadsheet, each Thursday, by 8 PM.

Here is the link for a blank spreadsheet pre-formatted for a snippet of the puzzle image, with instructions.


20191011 Go with the Flow.gif

As BirdLives & Wendy noted, this technique was used in a previous puzzle:

20170921 Underdogs of Film.gif

https://blogs.wsj.com/puzzle/crossword/ ... -26610.pdf

https://blogs.wsj.com/puzzle/crossword/ ... -26877.pdf
Last edited by Joe Ross on Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#46

Post by FrankH » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:47 am

Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:08 am
As BirdLives & Wendy noted, this technique was used in a previous puzzle:
It is also used in Aug 11 2017 puzzle EAGLE SCOUT where the answers are two rows below the letters PAR found in the grid.

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#47

Post by Joe Ross » Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:07 pm


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#48

Post by KayW » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:24 am

Thanks Joe!! I don't think I could have solved this week without that template. You are spoiling me - letting me be lazy and not have to set up the template myself :)

I'll post my solution grid on Monday.

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#49

Post by KayW » Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:57 am

My Horseplay solution. Of course, as I proceeded in solving I had to undo all my false starts which so many other Muggles also had - trying to start in the upper left and end in lower right, whether or not to skip the black squares, etc. Seeing L-O-T ending at the last square of KNIGHT was my first solid toe-hold.
knightmoves.JPG

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#50

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Oct 21, 2019 10:24 am

Congratulations on solving, Kay, and thank you for posting your solution spreadsheet!

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#51

Post by Joe Ross » Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:12 pm


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#52

Post by KayW » Thu Oct 24, 2019 5:21 pm

Joe you are amazing - and you are spoiling me! Thank you for the template! :)

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#53

Post by Joe Ross » Thu Oct 24, 2019 7:46 pm

You're welcome, Kay. I am glad that you & others find it useful.

You will find a few cells within A1 through O15 where the text is lightly struck-through. Ignore this or format the font for these cells and uncheck the Strikethrough box under Effects. I have fixed this on the linked Excel template.

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#54

Post by KayW » Sat Oct 26, 2019 9:56 am

Joe
You must be an instructor! Or you should be. Your explanations and instructions are always so clear and easy to follow. And of course that fixed the issue.

I noticed the oddity in the letters in those cells. And - can you tell that I was blonde as a child? ;) - I attempted to "fix" the problem by grabbing my microfiber cloth and wiping the screen of my laptop. That of course did not work. I figured something was up with the formatting but the letters were still legible so I didn't worry about it. But my spreadsheet looks much nicer now! :)

Thanks yet again for all your help!

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#55

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:44 am

Right-click the links below & choose to Open in new tab or Open in new window. Left-clicking will close this thread.

This 3 minute video shows the relative ease of copying a meta puzzle PDF, pasting it to the pre-formatted Excel Spreadsheet, editing its transparency & size, and saving it with an appropriate name.
Last edited by Joe Ross on Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:53 am, edited 3 times in total.

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#56

Post by KayW » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:31 pm

Thanks Joe for both the video and the pre-formatted spreadsheet. The video makes this look idiot-proof. Which I usually need :D

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#57

Post by Joe Ross » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:54 am

This next video clip shows filling of the grid, highlighting of the meta answers, & the start of taking notes in columns to right of puzzle grid & clues, or in the work space.

This work space is where you can explore rabbit holes, build lists, highlight, and more. The utility of using Excel for this is that you can erase, rearrange, highlight & change colors, & X-out the work space, grids, & clues and edit & start over as often as you wish. It's no different than working with paper, except that you can redo & edit as often as you wish.

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#58

Post by Joe Ross » Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:29 am

The link for the November 1, 2019 WSJ Crossword Contest Excel template will be published, here, after 5:30 PM, today.


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#60

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:38 am

This was very difficult for me, which I made worse for myself with dogged mining of the same rabbit hole.

I solved this in the last half hour by staring at the meta-related answers off to the side in a new-to-me font found online, CROSSWORD, and the grid. OMELETS & ST ELMO clicked at last & the rest was had in 2 minutes.

Below is the mess of a spreadsheet showing a scattered mind. Comments in dark yellow were gleaned from the puzzle's xword-muggles forum, none of which helped, but were appreciated. This spreadsheet worked, since the visuals finally made the answer pop to me. I could have seen them within the grid, too, but didn't.

As always, I am in awe of those who consistently solve grids & metas in minutes!

20191101 BACKDROPS Excel .gif

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