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Nonogram Instructions:
Here's how to play Nonogram:
Deduce whether each cell in the grid is to left blank (usually marked with a dot) or to be filled in (usually fully shaded in pencil).

At the start of each row and column there are a series of numbers. These numbers indicate the number of cells in that region which are to be shaded in. This list may be just one number, or several numbers. In the latter case, the numbers are comma-separated. Each number indicates a set of consecutive cells are to be shaded in of that number (see below for more details). A comma indicates a gap of at least one cell between groups of shaded cells.

Once complete, a simple image will be revealed in the cells.

Nonograms, The Picture Puzzle...

Nonograms are one of those puzzles that have more names and identities than it is possible to keep up with. If you are reading this page and have played something called a Griddler, for instance, then things may seem very familiar indeed. And they would - because it is the same puzzle! Another common name for this puzzle type is hanjie, so again you can substitute these names as they are the same puzzle.

Solving nonogram puzzles requires logic and nothing more. Some regions will have more options than others. It's a good tip to start with regions that have as few options as possible.

If the clue for a row is 2, 3, 2 then you know that the row contains a group of two filled cells, then a gap of one or more cells, then a group of three filled cells, then a gap of one or more cells, and then a group of two filled cells.

This means that the smallest region that could accommodate the clue is of length 2 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 2 (since the minimum gap between adjacent groups is one cell), which sums to 9. Thus with a region of length 9 one can instantly place (with '.' for 'blank' and 'x' for 'filled') like this:

If the region size were of length 10, then you will realise that there is more than one option, these are enumerated below:

When solving nonograms it will invariably be the case there are various options. Sometimes it is practical to work them all out, when there are hundreds it is of course not, so half the skill of nonogram solving comes in identifying regions where there are not many options, placing cells that must be filled in those regions, then using this information to reduce the options for other regions until they all become manageable until the whole puzzle is solved.

Of course often with a region you will know that some cells must be blank or filled, whilst not knowing about others. In the example above, look at the 4 options listed. You will see that some cells are to be filled in whichever of the 4 combinations is the correct one. Therefore these can be marked in straight away.

Now, by placing those filled cells in the nonogram grid, one can then look at the rows or columns that cross those cells and see if these placements help reduce the options for those regions, and so on.

It is also important to mark blank cells with a dot or similar marking whilst solving nonogram puzzles.

Once complete, a simple black and white image is revealed in the filled nonogram grid. A clue is usually given to the identity of the image with the puzzle, e.g. for a teddy bear the clue might be 'cuddly toy' or similar.

Related puzzles

Fillomino, Hashi, Hidoku, Kakuro

Last updated: 16 Feb 2012

Back to A - Z of puzzles

Sample puzzle:
start Nonogram image
Sample solution:
solution Nonogram image

View a sample Nonogram PDF

Play Nonogram Puzzles:

If you like nonogram puzzles, then you can solve over 100 of them on the nonogram section of the Puzzle Club website.

If you prefer to solve these puzzles with paper and pencil, you can also download in PDF format then print 50 of these puzzles in the Nonogram magazine - under the name of hanjie - at the Puzzle Magazines website.

Publish Nonogram Puzzles:

If you would like to buy or licence Nonogram puzzles for publication, then please Contact Us >>>