The Art of Long Anagramming using Anagram Artist

Anagrammy Awards > Long Anagramming


If you have read some of the long anagrams on this website, ranging from 50 letters to Richard Brodie's's world record anagram of "Battle of the Books" with 42,177 letters, you may have asked yourself: "How was that done?"

Creating long anagrams is a skill that takes some time to develop. It is virtually impossible to create very long anagrams without the assistance of special anagram software to help you keep track of all the letters.

We recommend using Anagram Artist, which can be registered and downloaded for free, exclusively from our website here. It has been specificially designed to help with long anagrams.

Larry Brash

Selecting the subject text

Give some thought to text selection.

  1. Letter frequency.
    When reading a piece of text that you are considering using, see if there are many "difficult letters", such a J, Q, X or Z. You will not get a good idea of letter frequency until you paste the text in Anagram Artist which will display the letter frequency and the vowel percentage. If the vowel percentage is significantly away from the ideal of 40%, you will start with problems. The closer to 40%, the better.

  2. Length of text.
    The novice long anagrammer is well advised to try a relatively short text, say, 100 - 200 letters, to get the hang of the techniques.

  3. Type of text.
    For your first attempts, we recommend using prose (rather than a poem or song words) and anagramming it into prose. Anagram Artist has many features to help you anagram into poems, but at this stage lets keep it simple.

  4. Difficulty of the text.
    Later you may wish, to use the additional constraint of using a difficult text, for example, a foreign language with a very different letter frequency to English. While this is highly regarded by experienced long anagrammers, it is recommended that a novice start with some easier text.

Getting started

Start with thinking about a general theme that you want to create in your anagram, maybe a parody of some spam, turning a joke into another joke or a reworking of a Shakespearian quote.

  1. Start with keywords.
    While you may think in terms of sentences, at first aim to find key words and gradually build up sentences. From there, build up paragraphs or sections. Adjust the "Commonness" field to 1 or 2, at first, to limit the number of words.

  2. Maintain the flow.
    Some long anagrams get off to a brilliant start in the first few sentences and deteriorate towards the end and become "choppy", losing their flow. The reader can see where the anagrammer began to have trouble with the letters. The best long anagrams maintain a good flow throughout.

  3. Think about the ending.
    Do not expect to start at the beginning and work steadily to the end. Break the task up into sections, roughly opening, middle, and end. Work on each one separately. If you have in mind a good ending to the anagram, create that early on, to make the end of the anagram read as well as the beginning.

The aim even at the beginning is to develop a situation where conditions will be amenable to a successful "endgame". We will explain how in the next section.

The work in progress

As you go along, the most important thing to remember is to keep an eye on your remaining letters. The aim is that towards the end of creating the anagram, you will be left with a good mix of letters and to be able to finish the anagram comfortably.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  1. Constantly watch the vowel percentage.

    This is probably the most important advice to follow.

    The vowel percentage should remain at about 40%. If it is getting below 38%, you will need to find consonant-rich words, or if it is over 42%, find vowel-rich words. Anagram Artist gives you a visual and numeric display of this percentage. You can find vowel-rich or vowel-lean words by using the "V%" feature to alter the vowel percentage of words showing in the Words Field.

  2. Keep an eye on all the letter frequencies.
    This is also very important, especially if some letters are quite very frequent or others are rare. Think of words that will use up the frequent letters and avoid words that use the uncommon letters. The U(se) Box is a great help with finding words that contain excessive letters. For example, if you have too many T's, type in TTT and see all the words with 3 or more T's. If you have, say, too many E's, type in -E to find words without E.

  3. Use up the hard letters early.
    It may be just psychological, but you will feel better you deal with letters,like Q, X, Z, and J, early on. With Anagram Artist, use the U(se) Box to find words with these letters.

  4. Retain a few middle frequency consonants.
    Keep some letters like M, C, F, W, G, P, B, V, as these letters will help you find a broader and more satisfactory choice of words towards the end.

  5. Do not leave too many common letters.
    This includes vowels like E, A, O, or I and consonants, like the T, N, S, H, R, D or L. One ends up using words, such as , "see", "sheer", "shame", "too", "eerie", "so", "even", "ever", "yes", "soon", "tee hee hee!", "eh?", "Heh heh!", "Hell!", or "Ha ha ha!" which, if overused weaken the result.

  6. Avoid unevenly preserved meter in anagrammed poems.
    If you are creating an anagrammed poem, this is important. A few added syllables here and there are acceptable in a poem or song, as is the complete abandonment of meter, but to have a lot of faithfully-preserved lines mixed with others that bear little or no resemblance to the original results in a disappointing joltiness.

When problems occur

Even with care, you may find yourself running out of important letters or having too many of certain ones.

Here are some more pointers that may help:

  1. Be prepared to make changes to your original sentences of the anagram.
    Do not be too rigid about sticking to them no matter how clever you thought they were. You may need to retrieve some useful letters from them.

  2. Look back and see which words could be sacrificed.
    Be prepared to lose words with the letters whose frequency you want to increase. Delete them from the anagram so to add them back into the letters to be anagrammed.

  3. You can also use "Tweak" mode in this situation. This is useful when you down to less than 25 letters and you are using the anagram generator. Just highlight a word in the Anag Field, right-click your mouse, and the word is now temporarily removed without actually deleting it. Repeat this with different words, until you find the best word to remove.

  4. Change the tense or person.
    Future tense will use up some L's; past tense for excessive D's. Avoid "you" if you are short on Y's; use "we" if you have too many W's.

  5. Use shortened or lengthened words.
    For example, try "it's" instead of "it is" to regain some I's, or the reverse to use up excessive I's.

  6. Think of synonyms.
    Use a thesaurus or Anagram Artist's "S(ynonym)" Box. Think laterally. If you have to lose a word to regain a few good letters, find a synonym with the remaining excessive letters.

  7. Change the word order.
    For example: "May all men suffer thy cruel, unjust wrath" +BBDEEY = "May thy cruel, unjust wrath be suffered by all men".

  8. Use up extra letters as adjectives.
    As you are nearing the end of the anagram, adjectives are useful as they can be easily added anywhere in your anagram. Use the "Adj" button to help find suitable candidate words.

The Endgame

This can be the most frustrating part even for experienced practitioners.

  1. Maintain the flow to the end.
    The biggest difficulty of all is convincing people there were no leftover letters with which to contend. The longer the anagram the more smoothly the anagram should flow.

  2. When to use the generator.
    It is only when you are down to the last 25 letters that Anagram Artist's anagram generator may find the final words or tell you if this is even possible to create an anagram from these letters. Select "All" in the "Commonness" field to find anagrams more easily. Even when you are down the last 25 letters, you may still be a long way off completing the anagram.

  3. If you are stuck.
    Be prepared to make changes to parts of your anagram, to pull out certain non-key words with "good" letters, and to retry some of the steps in the last section above.

A few final pointers

Here is some final advice.

  1. Be patient; do not "fight" the letters.
    Be prepared that it make take hours of work and experimenting to get it right.

  2. Do not stay up too late at night trying to find the solution.
    You will end up tired and frustrated. Try again the next day; the answers will often be much clearer then.

  3. Always spell check at the end.
    Finding even minor spelling errors may take some work to fix.

  4. Read it over several times.
    Does it flow? Does it sound right? Is the grammar correct? Even when you think it is finished, read it again and keep polishing it to make it read better.

With time and experience, long anagramming gets easier, but never easy.


This article was inspired by the world's best long anagrammatists who have shared their ideas and hints about creating long anagrams.

This band of few, includes Larry Brash, Richard Brodie, Mey Kraus, Tony Crafter, Adie Pena, Ellie Dent, Dharam Khalsa, Scott Gardner, Jon Gearhart, Mike Keith, Don P. Fortier, Harshal M., Jason Lofts, Toby Gottfried, David Bourke, Richard Grantham, Jaybur, Adrian Hicksford, James H. Young and Paul Pan.

Updated: May 10, 2016


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