covid-19: see advice in the Freelance.


Cryptic clues using anagrams, abbreviations, hidden words and so on take much longer to create than simple definition-type clues.

Add at least a 50 per cent surcharge for themed crosswords.

* Read me first!  Crosswords advice
* Uploaded 1818/0404/21212121: if you have a printout, check the current version at

Please note that the suggested rates below are minima; that rates for copyright works are for limited licences; and that VAT is not included.
See notes on negotiating rates and *find a freelance

The suggested rates (Know a better rate? tell us!)
For full definitions of the categories, click on their names
* See also: reported rates, to compare: Crosswords
Magazines category: A: large-circulation and glossy mags
Over 15x15 squares GBP 300.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 240.00
Magazines category: B: smaller consumer mags
Over 15x15 squares GBP 210.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 130.00
Magazines category: C: larger trade and trade union mags
Over 15x15 squares GBP 214.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 134.00
Magazines category: D: smaller mags
Over 15x15 squares GBP 140.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 125.00
National newspapers
Extra large (eg 21x21 squares) GBP 500.00
Over 15x15 squares GBP 210.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 160.00
Public relations category: High budget
15x15 squares and under GBP 215.00
Public relations category: Low budget
15x15 squares and under GBP 140.00
Regional newspapers
15x15 squares and under GBP 100.00


  • Compilers should charge more if they are commissioned by a group of papers and the crossword will be used by several titles.
  • Negotiate a higher fee for crosswords that will be exclusive to one client.
  • Clients who want compilers to provide explanations for readers should negotiate an additional fee, probably by the hour.
Find a freelance

Browse a selection of NUJ freelances with relevant skills through the Freelance Directory:

More advice and links...
* On negotiating for Crosswords
* Rates for the Job good, bad and ugly
* Join the NUJ to get individual advice & representation

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.