I am the author of a software that lets users create crosswords. Part of that is testing whether a certain letter should be enabled for usage in a certain language.

For portuguese, this poses the question about the use of diacritics. Should any letters incorporating them show up in crosswords (Ç, Ã, ...)? I am not asking about the way Scrabble does it. Its policy on using non-standard letters is specific to their awarding of points and does not apply to my software.

Instead, if one encountered a crossword, let's say in a newspaper, would there be any letters allowed that are not part of the standard latin alphabet? Or, to rephrase that question, if a crossword held the words "informações" and "cruzados", would someone trying to solve it expect that the words could cross at the c/ç, or would they be distinct letters that never fit?

Are there other letters with diacritics that would be considered distinct in that sense? (I think all other cases are accents/tildes above vowels?)

  • I don't believe the question is off-topic, but I wonder whether you might find more crossworders of languages with diacritics in Puzzling SE. They could easily tell you what's customary.
    – stafusa
    Sep 13, 2018 at 20:44
  • But would I find portuguese-speakers? I can say with certainty that in french accents are always discounted, in german the trema is actively substituted with a letter sequence. Customs may differ wildly between languages and countries.
    – ccprog
    Sep 13, 2018 at 23:32
  • You're right, "language with diacritics", as I had said, is not enough, you'd need to specifically ask about Portuguese. But I must say I don't really expect one can get much better info than what I mention in my answer (though some statistics, or guidelines from big crossword publishers would be nice to have).
    – stafusa
    Sep 14, 2018 at 12:16
  • A non-language-related suggestion I'd give is to let the user choose which convention to use. I don't expect it to be too difficult to implement, though I can imagine it might make the user interface more complex than you'd want to.
    – stafusa
    Sep 14, 2018 at 12:18

2 Answers 2


From what I remember (none at hand right now to check) and from what I found on a quick online search, you mostly find one of three conventions:

  1. completely drop diacritics from all words;
  2. keep ç, ã, and õ in the words, as distinct symbols (from c, a, and o, resp.), and drop the other diacritics; and
  3. keep all diacritics and distinguish letters with from those without them.

I'd say that #2 is (annoyingly) most common and #3 very rare, but that's personal opinion.


Welcome to PL. This is opinion based.

I'm not an expert in the creation of crosswords but I would avoid including such letters as "ç" or "ã" at a crossing point. Should I decide to use them, however, I'd make sure that the both vertical and horizontal words meeting at the "ç" or "ã" space really share those letters with diacritics. I also believe those who solve a puzzle in Portuguese won't overlook diacritics.

  • Do you think this is also true for accents (agudo, grave, circumflexo)?
    – ccprog
    Sep 13, 2018 at 19:15
  • @ccprog yes, sure.
    – Centaurus
    Sep 13, 2018 at 21:26

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