How to Make a Sudoku Puzzle

While most people seem to associate sudoku puzzles with Japanese culture (it is a Japanese word), these fun, brain-teasing puzzles were invented in the United States in the late 1970s.

That's not all that people get wrong about sudoku puzzles either. For example, did you know that you don't have to be an expert to make a sudoku puzzle? Anyone who loves sudoku puzzles can easily create their own with a few simple steps.

In this complete guide, we'll walk you through what sudoku puzzles are and what different kinds of puzzles you can make and complete. Then, we'll outline the process of how to make a sudoku puzzle and provide some tips on how to make it even more challenging.

Whether you're looking for a new pastime or want to give your friends and family a new puzzle to solve, this guide will show you how it's done!

Table of contents


What Is a Sudoku Puzzle?

A sudoku puzzle is a type of number game where players are given a 9x9 grid with some initial numbers filled in. The goal is to fill in the rest of the grid so that each row, column, and 3x3 block contains the numbers 1 through 9 without repeating any numbers.

Like other puzzle games, sudokus can range from easy to difficult, depending on the number of initial numbers given. It may seem simple at first, but some puzzles can be quite challenging and require logical thinking to solve.

This is why sudoku has become a popular pastime for many and can even be found in newspapers and magazines. Overall, they're great brain teasers that can help to keep your mind sharp without requiring too much physical space to complete them like a traditional puzzle.

The Benefits of Sudoku Puzzles

Many people enjoy passing the time with a good puzzle or brain teaser simply because they're fun. However, did you know that when you play sudoku there are benefits for your brain?

When you solve puzzles or think through tricky problems, you exercise and strengthen the neurons in your brain. Plus, it's hard to beat the satisfaction of finally cracking that tough sudoku you've been spending all afternoon trying to solve.

Aside from those basic benefits, here are a few more benefits of solving (and making) sudoku puzzles.

Improve Memory

Research has shown that solving puzzles, like sudoku, can help improve memory and cognitive function.

When we solve these puzzles, our brain is constantly making decisions and remembering patterns, strengthening the connections in our brain and improving our overall memory.

Solving puzzles also activates both the left and right sides of the brain. This means that you're essentially providing your brain with a "full-brain workout" in the same way that you might exercise and get in a good full-body workout. The benefits are similar!

Improve Concentration

When solving a sudoku puzzle, you have to pay attention to small details and think critically about each move.

In essence, these puzzles require you to solve smaller, individual problems within the larger puzzle. And solving these smaller problems helps to train and enhance our ability to pay attention and focus on the tasks at hand.

Reduce Stress & Anxiety

Looking for a way to unwind and reduce stress after a long day? Try solving some sudoku puzzles! Not only does solving puzzles activate the problem-solving areas of your brain, but it also helps clear your mind and relax your body.

Plus, solving puzzles can take your focus away from anxious or negative thoughts and give you a sense of accomplishment. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, grab a pencil and start solving those sudoku squares.

Reduce Risks of Dementia & Alzheimer's

Studies have shown that regularly solving puzzles and engaging in mental stimulation can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia. Note that it doesn't apply to people already diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia, though.

Cognitively stimulating activities appear to increase the production of neurons and connections between them, improving memory function and overall brain health.

Different Types of Sudoku Puzzles

Now that you're aware of the benefits of sudoku puzzles, it helps to understand the different types of sudoku puzzles. It helps to know what your options are before you start to create your own puzzle.

While there are numerous types of sudoku puzzles, here are the three most common you'll see.

9x9 Grid Sudoku

A 9x9 grid sudoku is by far the most common sudoku puzzle you'll see (and the main puzzle we're going to show you how to create on your own).

The 9x9 grid is divided into 9 smaller 3x3 grids. Each row, column, and small grid must contain the numbers 1 through 9 without repeating any numbers.

Similar to other types of sudoku puzzles, the challenge comes from starting with some numbers already filled in and having to work out the missing ones using logic. Overall, these are the simplest type of sudoku puzzle but can range from easy or moderate to extremely difficult.

Binary Code Sudoku

Have you ever wanted to add a little geeky edge to your sudoku game? Look no further than binary code sudoku!

Instead of using numbers, binary code sudoku uses binary digits (zeros and ones) to create the same 9x9 grid with similar rules. Each row and column must contain the same number of zeros and ones. No row or column can contain consecutive triples of each number.

As a result, binary code sudoku challenges players to not only solve the puzzle but also to have a basic understanding of binary code. This offers a fun twist on the traditional game that adds an extra challenge for anyone familiar with binary.

Diagonal Sudoku

In diagonal sudoku, players must also fill in the diagonal boxes in addition to the traditional horizontal and vertical squares. This means that not only do numbers 1-9 have to appear once in each row and column, but they also have to appear once in each diagonal line.

This adds an extra layer of difficulty as these diagonal spaces can limit the available numbers for other squares in the grid. However, diagonal sudoku can also provide a fun twist on the classic game and add another strategy element.

How to Make a Sudoku Puzzle

Instead of constantly buying new puzzle books or searching for new puzzles online, why not make a sudoku puzzle on your own? Not only is it incredibly satisfying to make a unique sudoku puzzle, but it's also a great way to train and improve your logic skills.

Plus, you can make the puzzles as easy or as challenging as you want.

Making your sudoku puzzles also means that you can design them however you want. This means you can make a holiday-themed puzzle or even one designed to use for an upcoming loved one's birthday.

Here are a few simple steps that can help you easily create your puzzle.

Create a Grid

One of the easiest ways to create a sudoku puzzle grid is by using a pre-made template. We'll provide you with some tips on where to find these templates below.

With a template you just need to fill in the blank squares with numbers one through nine, making sure that each row, column, and 3x3 box contains all of the numbers without any repeats.

If you want to create your grid from scratch, start by drawing nine horizontal and vertical lines to create a 9x9 grid.

While you can hand draw that grid, there are also tons of ways to create a grid online using simple design tools. Again, we'll get into that in just a second. However, the point of this first step is that you need a 9x9 grid!

Choose the Level of Difficulty

When creating a sudoku puzzle, one of the most important decisions to make is the level of difficulty. Generally, the easiest puzzles will have more numbers already filled in on the grid, while harder puzzles will have fewer pre-filled numbers.

Another factor to consider is how many "hidden singles" are present in the puzzle. A hidden single is when there is only one possible number that can go in a specific spot, making it relatively easy to solve.

More hidden singles make for an easier puzzle, while fewer hidden singles mean a greater challenge for solvers. Ultimately, it's all about finding the right balance between these factors to create a sudoku puzzle that offers a satisfying challenge without being too frustrating for solvers.

Fill In the Solutions

Creating a sudoku puzzle can be a fun challenge, but filling in the solutions can sometimes be a bit tricky.

One method is to first create the grid and fill in a handful of numbers that you know will fit in certain spots (based on row, column, and inclusion within a 3x3 box). From there, use the already filled-in numbers as guidelines to solve for the rest.

You may also want to create your puzzle with multiple solutions, so check afterward to make sure there aren't any duplicates within a row, column, or box. Filling in the solutions can also be easier if you create your puzzle with symmetry in mind.

However you go about it, just remember that every number from one to nine should appear only once in each row, column, and 3x3 box.

Review the Solution

This is the fun and easy part! Now it's simply time to check that each row, column, and 3x3 grid of your sudoku is correct. All you're looking for here is that you didn't duplicate numbers in any row, column, or 3x3 grid.

Remove Numbers

Now that you know your sudoku is complete, it's time to remove numbers for whoever is going to play the puzzle. Remember, the fewer numbers you remove, the easier it will be.

If you're having trouble with this step, it can help to remove mirror pairs. This means that if you remove a number from the bottom right-hand square, remove a number from the top right-hand square as well. Repeat that for other squares throughout the grid.

This idea here is that you're creating a symmetrical puzzle. This can make it easier for you to check and review after you're finishing building the puzzle.

Check Your Puzzle

While you checked your solution above, it's a great idea to complete the puzzle yourself to ensure it's right. As you check your puzzle, you'll also be able to check the difficulty level. If it feels too hard then add in some numbers.

Websites for Designing a Sudoku Puzzle

Finally, we've got a few helpful tips for you on how to find templates for designing a sudoku puzzle. While there are more than a few websites and online resources available, here are two places where you'll find high-quality, appealing templates to use.


Canva is a free online design tool that's full of templates for everything from business cards to sudoku puzzles. The best part about using Canva is that their sudoku puzzle templates already come complete with fun graphics and colors.

All you have to do is search for "sudoku" in the template section, pick the design you like, and start filling in the numbers. The pre-set grid makes it easy to create a proper puzzle, and there are plenty of design options available so you can make it fun and unique.

Plus, if you want to share with others, Canva allows you to easily print or share digitally.

Google Sheets

While you might not find fun sudoku puzzle templates on Google Sheets, the pre-built grids in these spreadsheets make it a great place to build a 9x9 grid in as quickly as five seconds.

All you have to do is create a 9x9 grid and fill in the numbers 1-9 in each row and column. Once that's done, use conditional formatting to create a color pattern for each 3x3 block so that every block has all numbers 1-9 without repeating.

Learn About Other Puzzle Games

While this guide has provided you with tips on how to make a sudoku puzzle, there are various types of puzzle games out there that are just as fun, engaging, and beneficial for your brain as sudoku puzzles.

Whether you want to learn how to complete 3D puzzles or are simply interested in the history of your favorite puzzle, we've got all kinds of information for you. Click here to view all of our puzzle content.

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