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The objective is to find a word of a specific length that can be joined in some way to each of the two clue words to form two new words or phrases. In Linkword, all of the answers are four-letter words. This restriction forces the acrostic part of the answer (the letters in the shaded squares) to be made up of variously positioned answer letters. In Link Ladder, the lengths of the answers vary and without the restriction of a formal grid, the answers can be arranged in such a way that the acrostic answer forms a single column.
The words and phrases formed by the answer word can include proper nouns, such as the names of people or flowers. Unusual clue words tend to be easy to solve (eg, TICKLED ____ GIN, leading to the answer PINK). Simple words often require more thought (eg, TURN ____ COAT, leading to the answer TAIL).