About Phil Austin

Phil Austin - Have a Word

Phil Austin at Have a Word

I’m Phil Austin, I’m the director of Have a Word and I love words. I always have.

I graduated in Spanish and French at university – English words alone were not enough for me! – and after a couple of years teaching English in Spain, I came back to England and immersed myself in puzzles.

I started my career as a magazine editor for one of the Puzzler publications some twenty-odd years ago. The Puzzler Boot Camp for trainee puzzle editors was a formidable place in those days, and everyone emerged with the most thorough understanding of what makes a good puzzle and a good puzzle magazine. Which words to use (and more importantly not to use!), how to write good clues, how to assess the difficulty (or otherwise) of a puzzle and how to make them fun.

Four years later, I was headhunted to set up a new launch by the Take a Break stable of puzzle magazines. Here I learned more about the marketplace, the commercial side of the business, what makes a magazine sink or swim. I also refined my eye for page and puzzle layout, as a good design concept will incite the desire in the reader to solve a crossword.

With all this experience and knowledge, I moved on to set up my own company, Have a Word, which provides a personalised product that is different from, and better than, anything you will get from a bigger company.

I am a hands-on director and while I´m involved in all aspects of the work I also have a team of experienced specialists that I can call upon.

Beyond puzzles, crosswords and quizzes, I am an experienced writer and subeditor for magazines, encyclopaedias, partworks and of course websites, whether it’s the Royal Academy of Music or my friend Paul’s sports blog.

I am also the father of two beautiful kids and coach of a children’s football team as well as an imaginary baseball one.