Ciphergram Solution Assistant

Solves, or nearly solves, ciphergrams like those in the newspapers that are called "cryptoquotes": simple substitution ciphers.

New feature, 28 March 1999: You can relax the rule about cipher characters not representing themselves in the plaintext. See below.

A ciphergram is a (short) message that has been transformed by a so-called simple substitution cipher. The fabled "Caesar shift" is one of these, wherein the ciphertext is made from the plaintext by substituting for each letter the one three places to the right in the alphabet, modulo 26: A becomes D, X becomes B, L becomes P, and so on.

The Ciphergram Solution Assistant makes these assumptions about the cipher:

   No cipher letter may stand for itself in the plaintext. (But see below.)

   Each cipher letter stands for a unique plaintext letter, and each
     plaintext letter stands for a unique cipher letter (1:1 mapping).

   The spacing and punctuation of the plaintext is preserved.

   The plaintext is spelled correctly throughout.

WARNING! The results of the Ciphergram Solution Assistant are not guaranteed or warranted in any way. These results should NOT be used as the basis of any commercial contract, obligation, or transaction.
The form below is filled in with an example. To try it, click Solve.

To try a problem of your own, delete the contents of the form. Then, enter the enciphered message, enter the enciphered attribution, and click Solve.

The Ciphergram Solution Assistant will do the best it can to solve the ciphergram. It usually comes close to the "real" answer, with at most a few wrong letters.

You should leave the "Initial Key" box empty at first. If you have trouble getting a solution, you can enter your guesses for ciphertext to plaintext mapping. Enter a letter pair or pairs, separating the pairs with a space. For example, suppose you want the Ciphergram Solution Assistant to translate cipher "b" to plain "h", and cipher "f" to plain "l". You would enter bh fl in the Initial Key box, and then click Solve.

Unless you are sure you want to relax the rule that requires cipher characters not to stand for themselves in plaintext, you should leave the "Enforce the Rule" button checked. The CryptoQuote puzzles in the newspapers obey the rule.

If you get an error message, or the results don't make sense to you, please read the Error-Help page.

Initial Key
Identity Rule Enforce the Rule (Cipher character may not represent itself)
Don't enforce the Rule

Email comments to: Karl Dunn (

Last updated 16 Aug 2000 Copyright © 1997 Karl Dunn