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November 5, 2021

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What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum, sometimes referred to as ‘lipsum’, is the placeholder text used in design when creating content. It helps designers plan out where the content will sit, without needing to wait for the content to be written and approved.

It originally comes from a Latin text, but to today’s reader, it’s seen as gibberish. This is the clever bit, as it helps show what on-page text will look like – without distracting from the main focus, the overall design.

Where is Lorem Ipsum used?

Traditionally, Lorem Ipsum was used for specimen papers in the print industry. Then, as the industry developed, the text began to show up in transfer sheets and on word processors.

Today, the text can be used for any copy, both print and digital. This could include:

The Lorem Ipsum copy

The full passage of standard Lorem Ipsum copy is:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

It’s meant to replicate the flow of the English language, hence why it’s not completely Latin text. Instead, there’s a mixture of Latin elements, as well as some made-up terms.

What is the Lorem Ipsum translation in English?

Lorem Ipsum was originally taken from a Latin text by the Roman philosopher Cicero. But it has gone through significant changes over the centuries, with words being taken out, shortened, and added in. The word ‘lorem’, for example, isn’t a real Latin word, it’s a shortened version of the word ‘dolorem’, meaning pain.

This makes the current dummy text impossible to translate into English. However, the original source was translated in 1914 to mean:

“Nor is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure.”

Why do we use Lorem Ipsum?

In short, we use Lorem Ipsum because it doesn’t make sense. It’s simply a placeholder, so doesn’t need to hold any meaningful messaging.

Content is intended to stand out on a page. So, if a designer or client is reviewing a template and its layout, they can easily become distracted by the writing and lose focus of the design itself.

It also looks and reads more natural than just repeating a phrase like ‘content here’ or ‘example content’. Adding Lorem Ipsum text simply gives a flavour of what the final page may look like.

Where does Lorem Ipsum originally come from?

The text can be sourced all the way back to ancient Rome. Many of the words and phrases in today’s Lorem Ipsum copy can be found in a book on ethics from 45 BC, written by the Roman philosopher, Cicero.

However, researchers believe the text wasn’t actually used as a placeholder in its current form until the 1500s. This is when a printer took the original text and scrambled its order, to make a specimen book.

Even as we developed new technologies in the 20th and 21st centuries, Lorem Ipsum endured as our preferred filler text. In the 1960s, the text was printed on dry-transfer sheets and used by architects and advertisers alike. Then, in the 1980s, it was adopted into word-processing templates on desktop computers.

Nowadays, you can find it on almost any piece of software designed for writers or designers, from Microsoft Word templates to WordPress web designs and Google Docs. Quite a journey through time from its humble beginnings!

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Hi! I’m Cecile, a 27-year-old blogger living in Paris, France.

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