Using Pencil Marks

Pencil Marks

If you want to pick up your Sudoku game to the next level you need to get familiar with pencil marks.

As discussed before, it is helpful and sometimes even necessary to keep track of the possible values for a cell.

We sometimes do it for more than one cell and we keep the candidates written within the cell itself. These are called Pencil Marks.

Let's fill in the pencil marks for R5C5. To begin with, it can be any digit between '1' and '9'.
Using Pencil Marks

But when we look at the buddy cells of R5C5, we see the digits '1', '2', '4', '5' and '6'
Using Pencil Marks

This means that R5C5 cannot contain any of these digits.

So let's remove them from the pencil marks of R5C5.
Using Pencil Marks

Let's look at another cell - R2C5 marked here.
Using Pencil Marks

Its buddy cells contain '1', '2', '3', '4', '6' and '9', leaving '5', '8' and '7' as candidate digits to fill in.
Using Pencil Marks

So here are the pencil marks for both of these cells.
Using Pencil Marks

If you are using pencil marks, make sure to update them as you play along.

Let's see an example, take a look at R2C7 on the puzzle we just looked at.
Using Pencil Marks

It's a naked single and must contain the digit '8'.
Using Pencil Marks

Once we know that R2C7 is an '8', we can remove it from the pencil marks of R2C5.
Using Pencil Marks

Activating Pencil marks

To use pencil marks in you need to turn them on.

You only have to do it once and it's very easy.

Click the Options menu while playing any puzzle.
Activating Pencil Marks

And then click On near the Allow Pencil Marks option.

Once the pencil marks are turned on you can place multiple digits in a single cell.

Just mark any of the cells and the additional digits you place in it will appear as Pencil Marks
Activating Pencil Marks

Back to the list of tutorials | Back to the Homepage

Start a Random Sudoku

Easy   Medium
Hard   Evil