In many word puzzles, punctuation such as spaces, hyphens and apostrophes isn't considered important, so TEA doesn't take them into account by default. However, you can ask TEA to search for punctuation as part of a template: if you include anything other than letters in a template, TEA assumes you want to match punctuation and checks that it is exactly as you specify.
A common use for this is in solving crossword clues where the answer is a phrase. Often, the individual word lengths are given and this can help narrow down the possibilities.
Suppose you are faced with the grid above and trying to solve the following clue to 25 across:
What eskimos have to do to start a party (5,3,3)
The single letter known towards this answer doesn't help on its own, but if the position of the spaces is given in the template, the possibilities are dramatically reduced:
Type ..... ... i.. into the box below the Pattern label and click on the Word Search button. TEA only finds one common possibility, break the ice, which is the clue answer.
Other punctuation characters that often appear in TEA words and phrases are hyphens (-) and apostrophes ('). To search for these, just include them in a template at the position you expect them to occur. Remember that if you specify any punctuation characters, they must be matched exactly - TEA won't show words and phrases that have the punctuation you specify and some additional punctuation you didn't specify.
If you know the type of answer (eg a phrase or a hyphenated word), but don't know exactly where the punctuation occurs, you can use TEA's result filtering feature to eliminate unwanted answers. To change the filter settings, use the Tools|Options... command, click on the Result tab and adjust the checkboxes in the Filtering section.
In the next step, we'll learn a way to combine patterns to solve more complicated problems.
Options Result Tab
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Last updated: $Date: 2010/06/06 20:40:38 $
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