An Easy To Use Yet Difficult To Solve Code

“Nothing intelligible can be written which, with time, I cannot decipher."
Edgar Allan Poe

I've always had a fascination with secret codes but they can get too complicated. I looked for a code that was very easy to use yet almost impossible to decipher. For me that code is the substitution of numbers for letters that appear in a book, magazine or other text.

The only way I can see this being solved is if the people involved know what book, magazine or text is being used. Here is my version:

Both the sender and receiver of the message must have the same copy of text. This means the same book, magazine, etc.

Find the words that you need in your message then indicate their location with numbers.

That's it!

Here's how it works:

First number = the page of the text being used.

Second number = the paragraph on that page.

Third number = the sentence in that paragraph.

Fourth number = the word in that sentence.

For example: If you want to indicate the word "home" which appears on page 3, in the 2nd paragraph, 4th sentence, 6th word. You write:

A sentence may look something like this using an extra space or dash between coded words: - - - -  and so on.

There is a more involved but also more tedious breakdown if you reach into each letter of the word being used to make the code by adding another number.

An easier version may limit the number of pages to 9.  You can use line numbers instead of sentences. A benefit is that you have no need to put a dash or decimal point between numbers making it just as dificult to solve if not more so.
Sequence is page#, line#, word#
324 = page 3, line 2, word 4 (using 4 digit would narrow the code down to the letter)

A line of code would look something like this:

5326 87219111 

Note: each word only needs 3 numbers so when you decipher the code just break up the line like this:
532  687  219 111

While searching for various code systems I came across Edgar Allen Poe who sometimes used to write puzzles for a newspaper.

A short biography which I found to be very interesting:
Edgar was orphaned at an early age, and was sent to live with a foster family but was never officially adopted. He was eventually disowned by the family after years of disputes.

Edgar's life included intense drinking bouts, giving him a bad reputation in 19th century society.
His public image was of an unstable man sitting in a dim room, a bottle at his side, a pipe full of opium, scribbling insane verses.
After the death of his wife Poe fell apart emotionally and died two years later, at the age of forty.


  1. this is interesting.. i remember you coming up w/ codes for notes about what you were reading when i was younger.

    it's complicated. really-- i mean, the idea that something as intricate as taking an already "coded" piece of information and coding it yet again. because language is in itself "a system for coding and decoding information" -- wikepedia

    so a novel or magazine article is really one big book of codes --letters that make up sounds and create meaning for information when placed in a certain order.

    your idea of assigning numbers to these codes to create another code is pretty intense! very cool--

    great blog!

  2. Great article John. Fascinating.


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