How to Write an Acrostic Poem and Other Puzzle Poetry

Updated on July 3, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

I teach creative writing to adults and love helping my students improve their writing skills.

Creativity can happen anytime. Try writing a puzzle poem today.
Creativity can happen anytime. Try writing a puzzle poem today. | Source

Writing Poetry Puzzles

If you’ve ever wanted to write a poem, why not have a go at writing acrostic poetry? They're a form of word puzzle and can be made with rhyming lines or free-form. I recommend you start your creative journey by reading Bow-Tie Pasta: Acrostic Poems (Poetry Adventures). In it the author describes how to write acrostic poetry and then gives some funny examples to prove his point. He explains acrostic poems as follows.

All kinds of poems are

Cool, but this type is

Really great because if you look

Over at the letters going

Straight down

The page, the first

Initials spell out a word or may even

Contain a message.

Encourage your kids to write acrostic poems. They are a great way to get children and adults to be creative. They will love the puzzle aspect of them. The rules are simple. Choose a word and then use the letters of that word to start or end each line of a poem. The best written acrostics use that same word as the theme of the poem, but it doesn’t have to be written like that.

10 Steps to Writing Acrostic Poetry

How to Write Acrostic Poems

First choose a word; it can be any word at all. The length of the word chosen will determine how easy or hard the poem is to write. I suggest you start with a short word and then increase in complexity as your confidence grows.

For example, a simple three letter word like cat is a good starting point. Here is an acrostic poem I wrote about a cat.

Cute and cuddly

All they want is food and warmth

The cat is an independent creature

As your confidence grows, you can pick a longer word for the acrostic root. Because the poem contains more lines, you can tackle a larger theme within the poem. I wrote the following poem using the word animals. It's about Noah’s Ark in the Bible.

Ask anyone about the Ark and

Noah comes to mind. With great

Imagination he

Made a list of all the kinds of

Animals that could be saved when

Land around the world would flood. He

Saved them all, two by two.

Any story or picture can inspire an acrostic poem.
Any story or picture can inspire an acrostic poem. | Source

A Reverse Acrostic

An acrostic poem can also be written with the letters at the end of each line forming the desired word. Here's an example, inspired by an empty fruit bowl.

Just woken up and I'm hungry! I fancy a bananA

But nothing in the fruit bowl. Wish I could do magiC

Like Harry Potter. I wouldn't mind a peaR

or an apple, maybe an orange or even a juicy mangO

I'd be happy with a bunch of fragrant grapeS

I've searched the fridge but there's nothing like thaT

I was dreaming of eating a sweet green kiwI

But stop! My problem is solved. I'm invited to a picniC

From empty bowl to picnic, the acrostic above has a happy ending.
From empty bowl to picnic, the acrostic above has a happy ending. | Source

Other Complex Acrostics and Puzzle Poems

Acrostic poetry is usually written in free-form. The lines don’t have to have a rhythmic pattern like traditional poems. Some writers adjust the length of each line so that an acrostic verse forms a picture of the object described. For example, you could choose the theme (or root word) of soccer and then write the lines so that they make the shape of a soccer ball. The line beginning with S would be very short. The length of the next lines would gradually increase, with those commencing with C being the longest ones.

An experienced poet may choose a complete phrase or a word containing letters like X, Y and Z which are notoriously difficult to use. The English 19th century poet Edgar Allan Poe wrote an acrostic poem to a girl called Elizabeth. In order to use the letter Z he incorporated the unusual name of Zantippe into his poem.

Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland wrote a double acrostic poem for his friend Gertrude Chataway. He used her name to start the lines and wrote about her as the subject of his poem. This type of acrostic is double the puzzle and more than double the trouble to write. In this form of the poem, the first two letters (not just one) of each line are combined to make the root word of the poem.

Lewis Carroll wrote this double acrostic for Gertrude Chataway. The verses embody her name in two ways; by letters, and through syllables.
Lewis Carroll wrote this double acrostic for Gertrude Chataway. The verses embody her name in two ways; by letters, and through syllables. | Source

An Example of How to Create an Acrostic

Abecedarius are Acrostics using the Entire Alphabet

A form of acrostic using every single letter of the alphabet in order, to start each line is called an Abecedarius poem. (It sounds a bit like Abracadabra, so I like to think of it as a kind of magical poem.) Abecedarius poems are sometimes used to help children learn their alphabet.

Most abecedarius poems are nonsense as it’s very difficult to find words that fit the letters of the alphabet in order, and also make sense. Here is one such nonsense ditty by an unknown author.

A Bear Climbed Down East From a Great Height

In Jest Killing Lame Millipedes Never Offending

Pretty Queens Realizing Somewhere That Umbrellas

Visit Well-tuned Xylophones Yearly Zimmerman

Etymology or Origin of Acrostic

The word acrostic derives from the Greek language. It literally means a puzzle. Writing acrostic poetry is a form of mental exercise or puzzle as the writer must ensure every letter of the root word is used to add meaning to the poem. The subject or theme of an acrostic can be an emotion, an object, an event or a person.

For example, a love poem may be written using the letters of the lover’s name to start each line. Or it could be written on the theme of love incorporating allusions to events in their courtship that only the lovers themselves would understand.

Writing poetry encourages creativity.
Writing poetry encourages creativity. | Source

Acrostic Poem About Encouragement

Here is an acrostic poem I have written to encourage you to start writing one too.

Easy to write I hope you'll agree

Now it’s your turn to

Create a


Unique poem.

Reach for your pen


Give it your all. The

Entire world awaits the

Moment when your

Embryo of an idea

Naturally showcases your hidden

Talent for acrostic poetry.

Does an Acrostic Poem Have to Rhyme?

No, the only requirement for an acrostic poem is that the first (or last) letters of each line form a word. An acrostic can be free-form; the lines don't need to rhyme, nor do they need to have a specific rhythm or meter.

But, if you're able to include a rhyme and/or a strict meter in the acrostic, then go ahead. You'll demonstrate your skill with words if you include these extras in your poem

Brainstorm an Acrostic Poem

How Many Lines Does an Acrostic Poem Have?

There is no special number of lines for an acrostic poem, it depends on the word you are using. If you are using a short word like dog, then you will have a very short poem.



Great company

On the other hand, if you use a word like imagination, the poem you write will be much longer and have many more lines.

In a land far away

Magical things happen.

Animals fly and birds swim

Ghosts meet humans

Ice-creams never melt

Night skies sparkle.

At the end of the day

The whole of the earth

Is at



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    14 months ago from SW England

    This is a good explanation with interesting examples. I like to write acrostics from time to time. It's a good way of making yourself choose the best words and then have the discipline to make both the words and the rhythm work.

    The different forms of poetry give us a wealth of styles to choose from and I think each one fits certain themes better than others.

    Any form which challenges the writer has to be a good thing; it stretches our boundaries and our comfort zone!


  • Eric John Large profile image

    Eric John Large 

    14 months ago from Saddle Lake

    Interesting. I thought it was complicated but I made a short poem with one word.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)