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How to Make Your Own Mad Libs

Updated on December 21, 2015
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Brainy Bunny is the mother of two. Together they read, craft, and play games for fun.

I made this Thanksgiving Mad Lib in less than 15 minutes.
I made this Thanksgiving Mad Lib in less than 15 minutes. | Source

What Are Mad Libs?

Mad Libs are a word replacement game. The concept was created in the 1950s, and has been a huge commercial success for its creators, Roger Price and Leonard Stern. Although the term is trademarked, it has passed into common use to refer to any funny fill-in story.

I was eight or nine years old the first time I ever tried Mad Libs. My friend and I laughed for at the pure silliness that resulted whenever we filled in the blanks. Today, the only thing that's different is that I now spend hours laughing with my kids (9 and 6 years old) instead of my childhood friend. I even do adult Mad Libs with my sister!

I'm going to show you how you can share in the fun and get started making Mad Libs of your own with just a few simple steps.

Perfect Occasions for Mad Libs

Mad Libs are great at keeping kids occupied and happy for 10–15 minutes at a time (or even longer, if your kids really get into it). Bring your homemade Mad Libs along or dash off a quick one while you're in these situations:

  • before you get your food in a restaurant
  • in the waiting room at the doctor's office
  • on a road trip (have someone else write the words down if you're driving)

Mad Libs are also great at parties for older kids or adults. Prepare a few special themed stories for occasions such as:

  • birthday parties (the silly story should feature the guest of honor, of course)
  • bridal showers (adult-only plots about the wedding night or honeymoon can be hilarious)
  • baby showers (try writing a Mad Libs birth scene!)
  • holiday get-togethers (There are plenty of official Mad Libs books for Christmas, but if you want any for Thanksgiving or most non-Christian holidays, you'll have to write your own.)

Write a Short Text

The first step to making your own mad lib is writing a (very) short story. Your inspiration can come from anywhere: a holiday theme, a life cycle event such as a wedding or a birth, or even your everyday routine.

  • Type the paragraph in a word processing program or handwrite it with pencil. (This will make it easier for you to erase words later.)
  • Write a few sentences. Don't stress if they're not funny to start with; they will be when you play the game later on!
  • Keep writing until you have between 100 and 200 words. It can be in one long paragraph, split into several short paragraphs, or even set as a list of bullet points.
  • Add a title that reflects the subject of the text you wrote.

Parts of Speech Used in Mad Libs

If you're not sure about the parts of speech, take a moment to review the ones commonly used in Mad Libs. (This list is not comprehensive!)

  • noun: a person, place, or thing (the President, living room, cup)
  • adjective: a word that describes a noun (smelly, green, alive)
  • verb: a word that shows an action (run, jump, play)
  • adverb: a word that describes how you do an action (quickly, gracefully, badly)
  • interjection: a short word or phrase that expresses emotion (Hey! Oh! WTF?!?)

Choose Words to Pull Out

Once your text is in good shape, you have to decide which words to pull out.

  • Choose between one and three words to take out of each long sentence. Very short sentences can stay whole, but interjections are ideal to substitute.
  • Make a note telling what part of speech fits under each word you erase, in case you forget.
  • In some cases, you may want to further limit the scope of words allowed. For example, body parts, types of liquid, foods, and gendered names are very often specified instead of just asking for a noun.
  • Reread your text once, saying "blank" instead of the original words that you erased. If funny ideas start to pop into your head, you'll know you've done it right.


How to Format Your Mad Libs

If you're simply dashing off a quick game to keep your kids busy in the restaurant while you're waiting for your food, you can't do better than pencil and paper. It's easily accessible, and the pencil's eraser makes pulling words out to leave blank spaces a snap. Remember to leave space between the lines for noting the parts of speech, though!

If you're preparing a personalized Mad Lib for a special occasion, you'll want it to look nice and be legible. Using your word processing program, write your story. Once it's finished, hit return twice at the end of each line, so you have a blank line of space between lines of text. Then highlight a word to erase, and replace it with a row of underscore marks. In the blank line below, tab over to a spot underneath the write-on line and type in the part of speech. Repeat this process for the whole story (it doesn't take as long as it sounds!). You may want to decrease the size of the font in the part of speech rows so they don't distract the reader. Save your file and print it, and you're ready to have a great time laughing with your friends.

The Star-Spangled Banner is in the public domain, so it was easy to grab the lyrics online and quickly pull some words out.
The Star-Spangled Banner is in the public domain, so it was easy to grab the lyrics online and quickly pull some words out. | Source

Texts You Can Adapt for Mad Libs

As long as you are using your mad libs for only personal, non-commercial use, you can adapt copyrighted material. These are some great sources to use:

  • song lyrics
  • advertisements
  • travel brochures
  • recipes
  • excerpts from tv or movie scripts
  • a paragraph from your favorite (or least favorite!) novel

Did your boss write a particularly asinine email today at work? Drop some words out and make it a Mad Lib with your coworkers (just don't let him find it!).

Mad Libs are everywhere, just waiting for you to pull out a few words and discover them!

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    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Mad Libs has been around for 60 years? And I never saw it? This looks like fun and I have a large group coming for Thanksgiving in a few weeks; a perfect time to try it out.

      Now if I could only find a writer to pen me up a good story to start with...

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image

      LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Mad Libs are great! This is a very useful hub for me--next week I am doing a Halloween language arts lesson in my daughter's class using Mad Libs!

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 4 years ago from California

      I love Mad Libs. I confess I will sometimes take a favorite book off the shelf and copy out a particularly dramatic paragraph -- in-home use only, of course, so as not to be posting copyrighted material somewhere.

      I can assure you that the Scary Galadriel Speech in The Lord of the Rings is never quite the same after your friends have helped you produce the "In place of the Dark Lord, you would have a HAGGIS!" version.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Seriously, Wilderness? You've never tried Mad Libs? Let me know how it goes -- I'm sure you're going to be laughing up a storm.

      LauraG, I am a huge fan of teaching with Mad Libs. My son started learning his parts of speech at just four years old because he wanted to play, too!

      Oh my gosh, Greekgeek, that is hilarious. It totally pays to play with someone who has a creative mind and can come up with more obscure words than "stinky" and "butt", which seem to be the words most frequently volunteered when I play with my kids!

    • profile image

      Biter 4 years ago

      I LOVE THIS HUB! Mad Libs are terrific. Voted up, funny, and awesome.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 4 years ago from California

      Yep! My parents got me started on Mad Libs at about age 9 as a fun educational game, to teach me parts of speech and grow my vocabulary. I started out with "stinky" "butt" language, too, but my parents took turns with me in supplying some of the words, so I learned by example that it's worth acquiring more creative vocabulary like "moist" (a Mad Libs favorite adjective in my household), "spleen," "dyspeptic," "stagger" and "noseflute."

      I can still remember one of our Mad Libs thirty years later, since we saved it and posted it on the fridge. With apologies to Joyce Kilmer:

      "I think that I will never see

      A poem lovely as a snout.

      A snout who on a summer's day

      Lifts its crusty battery cables to pray.

      Upon whose crock pot snow has lain,

      Who intimately lives with guppies.

      Poems are made by fools like me,

      but only Mickey Mouse can make a lizard."

      (Mad Libs of Kilmer's "Trees" poem, 1913.)

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      HAHAHAHA! Greekgeek, that is absolutely fantastic. First of all, "moist" is one of those gross words that is always perfect for Mad Libs, but "noseflute"? That's phenomenal. And the imagery in your version of "Trees" is disturbingly vivid. I hope I don't have nightmares of a battery acid-encrusted snout!

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Oh my gosh, I just love Mad Libs. I shared this on Facebook and voted up and others. Thanks for the great idea!!!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, clevercat! Anyone who likes word games should love Mad Libs, and they're really easy and fun to create. Let me know if you make any great ones!

    • profile image

      Heather63 4 years ago

      Great hub, Brainy Bunny! I love doing mad libs - they always leave me giggling, whether I'm the one filling in the blanks or the one reading them. I've tried making a few of my own on long car trips with my kids. You've got them down to a science!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, Heather! Mad libs are so much fun, and I'm glad your willing to try making them on your own. It's really rewarding when you can make your kids laugh (on purpose!) at something you've written.

    • Gloshei profile image

      Gloria 4 years ago from France

      This looks fun to do Brainy Bunny, but I too must admit I have never heard of it. Gee we must be slow in Europe!!

      Looks like we will have some with this one thanks

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Hi, Gloshei. I'm glad I could introduce you to Mad Libs. Try making one, and you'll see how much fun they can be!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Great Idea ,Brainy Bunny

      Love the creativity you can do and it is something that is perfect for Christmas! Not that familiar with the term "Mad Libs" but do remember something similar as kids we would play. Congrats on HOTD

      voted up, interesting, funny useful!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, Suzie HQ. "Mad Libs" is actually a trademarked term for this game in the US, but I've heard from several readers that the Mad Libs books are either not available or not popular across the pond. All the more reason to make your own!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      a very unique approach to Hubbing and well done, my friend. whonu

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      What a great idea to write your own Mad Libs! Doing so would be an awesome game for a kid's birthday party or any adult celebration.

      Congrats on the Hub of the Day!

    • profile image

      Dorota 4 years ago

      Great article, many thanks for that, wish to have more like this:)

    • snakeslane profile image

      snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada

      Congratulations BBunny on a fun Hub of the day. Hope the feed is fixed soon so people will see it! Regards, snakeslane

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      You and me both, snakeslane! Thanks for reading.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Dorota, thank you for reading. It's always nice to be appreciated!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, whonu. I had a lot of fun writing this hub.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      PracticalMommy, I did this at my daughter's birthday party and at a friend's bridal shower, and it was tons of fun. Just make sure you explain the rules clearly when you're playing with larger groups, or some people will get confused. Thanks for reading!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      We've had a (sort of) similar version going on, where one person starts a story, then in the middle of a sentence passes it to the next person, and so forth...This is even better in some ways.

      Thank you for a truly delightful share.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      These are fun. We enjoyed so much making up our own when I was still teaching. It was fun to use silly words in the blanks so we could all laugh a lot. Congratulations on HOTD ps

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I always loved Mad Libs--for adults, too! It would be funny to make one out of a song! or a recipe! Great hub. Congrats on HOTD.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      I've always loved Mad Libs. This game is so addicting. As a matter of fact, I was at Barnes & Nobles the other day and actually picked up a Mad Libs book. What a creative topic for a hub. Congrats! I can see why it's hub of the day.

    • profile image

      Biter 4 years ago

      This is the best HoTD I've seen in a while. Great stuff! Nice job.

    • starbright profile image

      Lucy Jones 4 years ago from Scandinavia

      Great idea and fun hub. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Paradise7: It sounds like you're describing "Exquisite Corpse," which despite it's strange name is also a really fun party game. If you like that, you'll really enjoy making your own Mad Libs as well.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, pstraubie48. You can definitely use Mad Libs as a fun teaching tool, whether you're working with elementary school kids learning their parts of speech or adult ESL students working on vocabulary and idioms.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congratulations on HOTD!! What a fun thing to do! My mom and I used to have great fun with "Mad Libs," and she also joined in with my kids, and they enjoyed them as well.

      It never occurred to us to write our own. What a fabulous idea! (Just as an aside, most WP programs have a menu choice for "subscript," which will automatically be in a much smaller typeface.)

      I'm going to dash some off right now, and send them to MY grandchildren! Voted up, funny, interesting and shared!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Victoria Lynn, you can definitely make them for adults! They're a great icebreaker for bridal or baby showers, and they can be a fun activity for a retirement party or anniversary party, too. And if you want truly adult material for, say, a bachelorette party, all you have to do is tell the participants to make their answers on the raunchy side. You can turn any normal, innocent text into something full of innuendo and double entendre, if that's what you're looking for!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, lovedoctor926. I actually got the idea to write the hub after searching for a book of Thanksgiving Mad Libs. Turns out they make them for tons of holidays (dozens of titles just for Christmas, of course) but not Thanksgiving. So I made up my own!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, Biter. I always appreciate being appreciated!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Congrats on HOTD. This looks a fun way to keep kids occupied - wish I'd had your hub a few years ago as mine a teenagers now and occupy themselves with the ubiquitous ipod, mobile phone etc.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      This is very fun! Thank for reminding me of these!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Starbright, thank you for reading and voting.

      DzyMsLizzy, I'm so glad you're going to give it a try! It's a good intergenerational game, since it doesn't involve running around -- just a sense of humor!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Melovy, maybe you can catch them at one of those rare moments when they're interested in being part of the family, or when they can't escape, such as on car rides. Or file this hub away for another ten or fifteen years until you have grandkids! ;-)

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks for reading, Monis Mas. Enjoy!

    • Bob Schroeder profile image

      Bob Schroeder 17 months ago

      This is a game I can play with the grandkids. Don't remember playing it as a child, but I think it will work for young people.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 17 months ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Yes, Bob! It is great for kids as soon as they can learn parts of speech (which may be younger than you think). When my son was three, he started to play with us -- we would just explain to him what kind of word we needed and give an example (e.g., for a verb, we would say "an action word like run or jump").

    • Robert Levine profile image

      Robert Levine 16 months ago from Brookline, Massachusetts

      Mad Libs were all the rage at my elementary & middle school in the 1980s. I'm sure they contributed immensely both to my love of language and to my appreciation for absurd humor.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 16 months ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Same for me. Mad Libs taught me the parts of speech while also being a hilarious way to pass the time.

    • profile image

      eliizabetn 3 months ago

      I love madlibs

    • profile image

      Crazyfern784 2 weeks ago

      The first time I ever heard about MadLibs were two years ago.

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