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.

The suggested rates

* Read me first!  Crosswords: advice

* See also: notes on negotiating rates for this work

* See also: reported rates, to compare: Crosswords

* Know a better rate? Tell us!

* Find a freelance

Please note that the suggested rates below are minima; that rates for copyright works are for limited licences; and that VAT is not included.

category: A: large-circulation and glossy mags
Over 15x15 squares GBP 300.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 240.00
category: B: smaller consumer mags
Over 15x15 squares GBP 210.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 130.00
category: C: larger trade and trade union mags
Over 15x15 squares GBP 214.00
15x15 squares and under GBP 134.00
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
* Uploaded 22/03/2323: if you have a printout, check the current version at
* 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.