Scrabble (Rules and Gameplay Instructions)

If you are looking for a simple game involving strategy, knowledge, and head-to-head competitiveness, Scrabble will satisfy those needs! These Scrabble rules will refresh your memory on how to play this family-friendly classic!

Did you know that you can find a game of Scrabble in 3 out of 5 households in America? In fact, there is a nationwide tournament thrown every year by the North American SCRABBLE Players Association (NASPA) to determine a Scrabble champion out of over 500 highly-skilled players.

Whether you are new to the game or have played it before, these Scrabble rules and gameplay instructions will show you how simple it is to start a game!

This Scrabble rules guide will cover the following:

  • What is Scrabble
  • What you’ll need to play Scrabble
  • A brief history of Scrabble
  • Scrabble rules
  • How to keep score in Scrabble
  • FAQs
  • Similar game guides to Scrabble

Find out how to play Scrabble by reading more below!

What is Scrabble?

Scrabble is a word game where players obtain scores for each word they create and compete for the highest score by the end of the game.

 Number of players: 2-4

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Easy

Length of play: 60-90 min

Category: board game, word game, family-friendly, strategy, logic, tile placement, competitive

Similar to: Upwords, Boggle, Bananagrams

Main Objective: Develop words that create high scores! Whoever has the highest score at the end of the game wins!

Why We Love It: Each game of Scrabble is unique and challenging. We love the bonus tiles, which can easily increase your score if used correctly!

A Brief History of Scrabble

Back in 1933, Alfred Mosher Butts invented the game Scrabble. However, back then, it went by the name of Lexico, then Criss Cross Words.

Butts eventually met another game enthusiast like himself, James Brunot, and the two successfully obtained a trademark for the name “Scrabble,” which means ‘to grasp, collect, or hold on to something.’

While Scrabble finally received its trademark in 1948, it didn’t gain its immense popularity until the early 1950s, when the president of MACY’S played the game on a family vacation and loved it! He sold it in MACY’S stores across the country, and it quickly became a “must-have” game.

What You’ll Need to Play Scrabble

Everything you need to play Scrabble can be found in the box:

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The following components are found inside each game:

  • 1 Scrabble game board
  • 100 Letter tiles
  • Letter tile pouch
  • 4 Letter trays

You will also need a sheet of paper and utensil to keep score during gameplay.

Scrabble Rules

Game Setup

Follow these simple instructions for starting the game:

  1. Provide each player a tray for their letters. Decide on one player to keep score throughout the game.
  2. Shake up the pouch of letters and have each player take 1 random tile out of the bag. The player with the letter closest to “A” goes first. If a player picks a blank tile, they go first, even if someone else pulled out an “A” tile.
  3. Players return all tiles back to the pouch and shake it again. Then, starting with the first player, everyone collects 7 random letter tiles from the pouch and places them in their letter tray.

You are now ready to play a game of Scrabble!

How to Play Scrabble

The first player creates a word using the letter tiles in their tray and places that word on the game board. The very first word placed on the board must have 1 letter touching the star tile located in the middle of the board.

NOTE: Words cannot be played diagonally and must be at least 2 letters long.

When a word is placed on the board, that word is immediately scored by adding the numbers found on each individual letter tile that makes up that word, including any letters that were previously placed from another word. 

Every other player, in clockwise order, then adds another word to the game board. Every new word must touch a previously added word on the game board.

When a player is done placing and scoring their word, they refill their letter tray with letters from the pouch, so they have a total of 7 letter tiles for their next turn.

For Example, The first player created the word “Hello” and placed it on the board. “Hello” used 4 letters which leaves the first player with only 3 letter tiles left in their tray. They will now pull out 4 random letter tiles from the pouch and add them to their tray, so they have 7 letter tiles in total.

Towards the end of the game, there will be no more letters available in the pouch. Players will have to work with the letters they have left in their trays.

A game of Scrabble ends as soon as someone places their last letter tile on the board and there are no more tiles in the letter tile pouch to draw from.

How to Keep Score in Scrabble

After a word is placed on the board, the value of each letter tile in that word is added up as your total score for that turn. 

Keep reading below for some special scoring rules you need to know, which will help you get higher scores for each word you play!

Special Scoring

If a letter is placed on a Bonus Tile, be sure to apply that bonus to your score as follows:

Bonus Tile descriptions:

  • Double Letter: Double the score of the letter placed on this tile.
  • Double Word: Double the amount of every letter placed in the word that touches this tile.
  • Triple Letter: Triple the score of the letter placed on this tile.
  • Triple Word: Triple the amount of every letter placed in the word that touches this tile.

Blank Tile

Blank tiles are very helpful and can be used as any letter you desire, but the tile has a value of 0. Avoid placing blank tiles on any “letter” bonus tiles because you will not gain a bonus. But, if you place a blank tile on a “word” bonus tile, it will still provide that entire word a bonus.

BINGO!

If you use all 7 tiles from your letter tray to create a word, you obtain a BINGO! Add an additional 50 points to your score this turn.

End of Game Scoring

When a player uses the final letter tile on their tray, and there are no more letters available to draw from, the game immediately ends. Follow these end of game scoring rules before announcing a winner:

  1. Any player who is left with letter tiles in their tray subtract the total value of those tiles from their final score.
  2. The player who ended the game gains the total value of everyone’s remaining tiles, and that amount gets added to their final score.

Whoever has the highest total score at the end of the game wins!

Video Tutorial for Scrabble

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to create more than 1 word per turn in Scrabble?

Yes! There are many ways to create more than 1 word per turn, which all depends on the placement of your letter tiles. These words are calculated separately and then added together for your total score that turn.

What is the best letter to have in Scrabble?

The letter S can be extremely helpful, especially towards the end of the game when players run low on tiles. S’s can be added to the end of most words to make them plural and, in some cases, even connect multiple words if positioned correctly.

Are there certain words you are not allowed to play in Scrabble?

You are not allowed to play any words that would normally be capitalized. Also, you cannot play prefixes and suffixes standing alone, abbreviations, or any words that require an apostrophe or hyphen.

We highly suggest purchasing an official Scrabble dictionary to use while playing.

Other Similar Games to Scrabble (Our Guides)

If you enjoyed reading about Scrabble, check out these similar word game guides (if we have covered them):

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