If the letters of one word or phrase can be reshuffled to make another word or phrase then the two are said to be anagrams.
Anagrams are your way in to a cryptic crossword. There will always be one or two pure anagram clues in a puzzle. Once you know how to recognise this type of clue, they are easy to spot and should be fairly easy to solve. You will have encountered anagrams in your simple crossword, usually as one part of a double definition type clue:
5. Chief; dealer (anag.) (6)
A cryptic anagram clue will contain the same information: definition; word (or words) to be rearranged; anagram indicator. For a refresher on definitions and cryptic definitions please follow their links. Today we will concentrate on the anagram indicator.
5. Chief dealer reshuffled (6)
Elegance is achieved by marrying the anagram indicator (reshuffled) with the word to be rearranged (dealer).
An anagram indicator can be any word indicating movement or arrangement or peculiarity. It can invite you to look at letters or merely indicate that a word or phrase is 'out' or 'off'.
Knowing the length of an answer (indicated in brackets at the end of a clue to save you the bother of counting the squares) makes it easy to check whether a word or phrase within a clue is a candidate for an anagram. I have written a basic crossword that contains only anagrammatical clues for you to practice identifying the three parts of the anagram clue.
Finnginn's anagram crossword
Remember: definition, anagram, indicator. All three must be there. The definition must be at the beginning or end of the clue. The indicator must be beside the anagram. Let me know how you get on!