How to Make a Word Search With Microsoft Excel

By Claire Jameson

Word searches, also called word finds, are games that require you to find a list of words that are hidden within a seemingly meaningless jumble of letters. Word searches are appropriate for all ages: younger children can find short words within a small grid of letters, while teens and adults can find complex words in large puzzles. Word searches are typically completed by just one person, but you can print out multiple copies of the same game and have a group of people compete to see who can find the words quickest.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Microsoft Excel software
  • Printer (optional)

Step 1

Make a list of the words that you want to appear in your word search. The number of words should correlate to the size of the word search: larger grids can contain more words than smaller grids. Relate the words to a common theme such as animals, colors or family members.

Step 2

Open Microsoft Excel. Select the rows and columns that you want to appear in your word search by clicking in box A1, holding down the mouse button, and dragging the cursor to highlight other boxes. For example, select boxes A1 through Y25 to make a square 25-by-25 word search.

Step 3

Click the "Home" tab and select "format" under the "cells" section. Click "column width" in the menu and type "2" in the box that appears. Click "OK." While the cells are still selected, click the "center text" symbol under the "alignment" section.

Step 4

Type the words from your list into the Excel spreadsheet. Type one letter per cell and make words read in the vertical, horizontal and diagonal directions.

Step 5

Type random letters in the remaining cells. Type fragments of words that already appear in the search to make it harder to find the real words. The word search is completed as soon as you fill all the cells.

Step 6

Format your word search. You can select all the cells (as you did in step 2) and put a border around the word search by right clicking and selecting the "borders" button from the menu that appears. Change the style of the letters by selecting the cells and selecting a new font, size or color in dropdown menus under the "font" section. Type the search words from your list in step 1 below the grid of letters or on a separate page.

Step 7

Print your word search or email it to friends or family. Print multiple copies if you are playing a game as a group or if you are a teacher who has prepared this word search for students.

Tips & Warnings

  • Save your word search as you work by clicking "file" and selecting "save as." Type the name of your word search and click "save." After that, you can save your work by pressing Ctrl+S on your keyboard.