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Pictionary Tips

Updated February 21, 2017

Pictionary was released in 1985 and has been a popular party game ever since. The game involves advancing a game piece along a board, but differs from other board games in that teams of players must draw things for each other and successfully interpret each other's drawings to advance on the board. The drawing is timed, and the players work in teams.

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Don't Guess For the Other Team

Unless the drawing session is "all play," which means that any team that guesses the correct answer wins the round, it is not in your best interest to guess at what the other team is drawing. This can be frustrating, and sometimes players get swept up in the excitement of guessing. But if you want to win, you should keep quiet while you observe the other team's players drawing and guessing. You can always make your guess after their time runs out.

Guess Anything

When it is your team's turn to guess, don't be shy about shouting out ideas for the answer. There are no points lost for guessing wrong, and you may surprise yourself by being right. Also, the words that you say may trigger the creativity of one of your teammates who takes the idea further, and at the very least you will be giving feedback to the drawer about the message the drawing is sending.

Draw Fast

When it is your turn to draw, don't worry about getting everything perfect. Draw quickly and include as much information as you can, so that your teammates will have material to begin guessing. If their guesses are off, you can go back to the original to make refinements or start something else. And when you do begin drawing, start with the most recognisable feature of what you are trying to communicate.

Use Lots of Paper

Don't squeeze your drawings into a tiny space. It will be much easier for everyone to see what you are drawing if you start with a fresh sheet of paper for each round of sketching and make your drawings large, even if it uses up the whole space. In fact, it is OK to use multiple sheets of paper for only one round of drawing.


One strategy for communicating a difficult word to put into pictures is to use a homonym, a word that sounds the same but has a different meaning. For instance, a "bale" as in hay can be easy to draw but is a homonym for "bail." This could save you a lot of time, and if you draw a homonym when someone is having a hard time guessing the exact word you are trying to suggest, it may get through to them.

Don't Get Angry

Pictionary is supposed to be a fun game, but the excitement and frustration it brings out can make people say things in anger to each other. Remember that you are playing a game to have fun with your friends and that winning is secondary. Also, getting angry with each other wastes time that could be used for drawing.

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About the Author

Stella Noble began writing professionally in 2004. She received her Juris Doctor from Georgetown University and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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