Mastering the Rubik's Cube

By Toby Anderson

So, you want to know how to do the Rubik's Cube? Well now you can in just five easy stages.
You can print this page out if you want to.

What you should know before we start

The aim of the puzzle is to finish with the six colours of the cube all on their separate faces, by rotating various parts of the cube (not by peeling the stickers off and putting them back on in the right places, as is a suprisingly common method).

The centre square on each side decides the colour that the whole side should be. If you pulled a cube apart you would notice that the centre squares are connected by axles and the other blocks rotate around them.

Each face is named as shown. "Front" faces towards you, "Back" is on the back, "Top" is on the top, "Down" is on the bottom, "Left" and "Right" are also obvious. These names are abbreviated with the letters: F, B, T, D, L, R. The positions of the colours do not affect the names of the sides. Following the letter that indicatees which face to turn is a lowercase letter that indicates how to turn it. To indicate a turn of a face by 90 degrees clockwise I will use the letter 'o', for 90 degrees anti-clockwise I will use 'a', and for 180 degrees (or turning it twice) I will use 'i'.
Examples: Fo means turn the front face 90 degrees clockwise.
Ti La Do means turn the 'top' face twice then the 'left' face anti-clockwise, then the 'down' face clockwise. Using these letters means the formulas became pronouncable and so easier to remember.

Remember when applying an 'algorithm' do not rotate the entire cube in your hands as the faces will change and you will stuff it up. You can, of course, do as much rotating between 'algorithms' as you like.

Where there is more than one 'algorithm' by one picture they are alternatives, do not do all of them, just choose one.

Stage 1

The aim here is to get one face completed. Note that just getting one colour all on one face is not quite good enough. You need to get each separate 'little cube' in it's correct position on the face, (if you know what I mean). So if you're going to put one colour into place check the other colour(s) attached to the same piece of plastic, and line them up also.

Which side you start with is not relevant, choose any colour, and hold the cube so that the 'up' face has that colour as it's centre square.
You can rotate the 'up' face or the 'down' face to get your cube into one of the following positions, as that won't mess up the top face.

Here's how to do it:

In this position do this:
Do Ro La Fa Ra Lo

Here you should do the following:
Ro La Fi Ra Lo

 In this position try one of these:
Ra Da Ro
Do Fo Da Fa

This is a similar situation.
Fo Do Fa
Da Ra Do Ro

If you encounter this do one of these:
Ra Do Ro
Fo Da Fa
Then you get one of the two previous situations

Fa Ra Lo Do Ro La
To Lo Ta Do Fa

Ta Ro Fo Ba Da Fa Bo To
Ti Ba To Da Ro To

If the 'little cube' you need to make the top face is already in the top row except the wrong way up, or in the wrong place, or both, then just move another 'little cube' to where it is and that should move it out of the top row.

Once you have applied which-ever of the above algorithms you required to complete one side of your cube then you have successfully completed stage 1. Well done.

Stage 2

You should, by now, have one row out of three of the cube completed. The aim of this stage is to complete the middle row. Start by turning the cube upside down so the completed 'up' face now becomes the 'down' face. Find a 'little cube' that is on what is now the top row and should be in the middle row, and find where it's meant to go. Hold your cube so that where it's meant to go is on the left of the 'front' face and turn the 'up' face so that the 'little cube' you are moving is above the 'front' face. Then follow one of these instructions:

Fo Ti Ro Ta Ra Ti Fa

Ta Fo Ti Ro To Ra Ti Fa

Repeat until the whole middle row is finished, (that should be not more than 4 times).

If a 'little cube' you need in the middle row is already in the middle row but in the wrong place, again just move a different 'little cube' to where it is to move it into the top row. If it is in the right place, but the wrong way round you could move it out, or you could just leave it there, and flip it round in stage 5.

Congratulations you made it through stage 2.

Stage 3

The last three stages concern themselves with just the top row (since the other two rows are already complete). The aim of this stage is to position the edge 'little cubes' into their correct places, not the corners. Understand that the 'little cubes' only need to be in their places here, they don't have to be the right way round, that's dealt with in stage five.

This is a view from above of the 'top' face
Fo To Ro Ua Ra Fa
There are other algorithms for this stage, but this is the only one I bothered learning.

It is usually possible to get to a position to apply the above algorithm just by turning the 'up' face and by rotating the whole cube around in your hands. For example, if you need to do it backwards you could just do it twice forwards, or turn the 'up' face 180 degrees, and turn the whole cube round 90 degrees then you can apply it once forwards.

If you find yourself in a position where you can't sort it out with this algorithm then just apply it anyway, and you'll probably get to a position where you can get it to work out.

I might, but probably wont put some other 'algorithms' for this stage up later, as this will allow faster completion times. For now you'll have to get by with just one.

Stage 4

This stage is like the last one except you're moving the corner pieces instead of the edge ones. Remember you're not trying to get them the right way round yet, just in the right places.

La To Ro Ta Lo To Ra Ta

To Ro Ta La To Ra Ta Lo
This, you may notice, is just the reverse of the last algorithm

Fo To Ro Ta Ra To Ro Ta Ra To Ro Ta Ra Fa
Don't be put off by it's size, it's just the first algorithm of stage 3 applied three times.

Again there are more algorithms for this stage that I haven't included, but I may put them up later. As with stage 3 you don't really need them.

Stage 5

You should now have all the 'little cubes' in the right places, you just need to get them the right way round. This stage should help you to do that.

Ra Do Ro Fo Do Fa Ta Fo Da Fa Ra Da Ro To
Notice that the second half of this is pretty much just the reverse of the first half.

Fo To Da Li Ti Di Ro Ta Ra Di Ti Li Do Ta Fa To
Again the second half of this is just the reverse of the first.

Fo To Da Li Ti Di Ro Ti Ra Di Ti Li Do Ta Fa Ti
This is almost the same as the last one.

If you find yourself in this position, having left one the wrong way round in stage 2, then just turn the 'top' face 90 degrees (To), then make the 'front' face the 'top' face, then you can do the second one of stage 5, then you undo your 'To' with a 'Ta'. You get the idea?

Congratulations, you have now mastered the cube. Just a little practice and you'll become as good as me.

If you have any questions or comments email me at


There is more than one way to complete the Rubik's Cube, and plenty of ways of explaining how to do it, (most better than mine). So if you don't like my way, then follow these links to other pages that try to do what I have done.

The Ultimate Solution - Check out this page. A surprising method with less to memorize.
Jessica Fridrich - A "speed cuber" like Fridrich can solve a cube in under 20 seconds. Learn from the best.
Dan Knights - Another speed cuber, world champion in August 2003. Shows you his moves with short video clips.
Cubixx - Does better than tell you how to do it, it shows you!
Yahoo on the cube - That part of the Yahoo directory dealing with the Rubik's Cube.
Rob's Rubix Repair - If you get really stuck, this will tell you the exact moves needed to complete it.

I you are very deprived and do not actually have a cube of your own, then never fear, just click here, or on the cube to go to a site that allows you to play online.

Cool Patterns

Impress your friends by making your cube really pretty, with colourful patterns.
Start with a completed cube, and try out some of these:

  1. Di Ri Di Ri Di Ri Ti Li Ti Li Ti Li Di
  2. Li Ri Ti Li Ri Di
  3. Li Ri Fi Bi Ti Di
  4. Li Ri To Da Fi Bi Ta Do
  5. Li Ri To Da Fi Bi To Da
  6. Lo Ra To Da Fo Ba Lo Ra
  7. Fo Bo Lo Ro Ta Da Fo Bo

Try combining two or more of these patterns. Mix and match. For example patterns 1, 3, & 5 go well together. Make up some of your own patterns if you feel up to it.

Remember to get back just do the reverse of what you've done.

Thanks for visiting, come back soon, tell your friends.

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Last updated: 26/12/03