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What Is Lorem Ipsum? (History, Fun Facts, and Alternatives)

December 18, 2019

If you've at least used some form of writing or web content management software, there is a chance you encountered the Lorem Ipsum text.

But to those who don't know what Lorem Ipsum is, it may just be a nonsensical clump of Latin words. If you dig a little deeper and do some research on Lorem Ipsum, you’ll discover the incredible history behind it. Let’s take a quick look at its history, fun facts, uses, and its alternatives.

What is Lorem Ipsum?

In layman's terms, Lorem Ipsum is a dummy or placeholder text. It's often used in laying out print, infographics, or web design. The primary purpose of Lorem Ipsum is to create text that does not distract from the overall layout and visual hierarchy.

Although the text is in Latin, it does not have any intelligible meaning. It's merely a generic text used to hold a place in a file until the actual text or visuals are created to replace it.

A brief history of Lorem Ipsum

The term Lorem Ipsum is derived from the Latin term Dolorem Ipsum which means "pain itself. " The text has been in use for a very long time and its history spans for over two millennia. 

history of lorem ipsum inforgraphic

Ancient roots

Its origins were discovered by Richard McClintock, a Latin Scholar from Hampden-Sydney College. According to his research, Lorem Ipsum dates back to 45 BC, from Classical Latin literature.

The words in the text originated from the book De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (The ends of Good and Evil). The series of books was a treatise on the theory of ethics and was written by the ancient Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The placeholder text was taken from the first book's discourse on hedonism. Its original text is a lot more cohesive than the modern version. The treatise was very popular during the Renaissance period, and it compelled a great many intellectuals and luminaries of the time to read the books.

The Renaissance Era

It was due to the popularity of De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum that the Lorem Ipsum text came to be in its current form. Cicero was considered one of the most skilled rhetoricians of all time. During the age of enlightenment, his works were considered the standard for prose in Latin.

A case of strange coincidence

But how did the great works of Cicero ultimately become a filler text?

According to McClintock, it may have just been a happy coincidence. He theorized that a typesetter, who was required to make a type specimen book, used the text as a way to demonstrate different fonts. And seeing as the text should be insensible so as not to distract from the graphical features, the typesetter scrambled the words.

With Cicero's work as one of the most published works during that time, the typesetter would most likely have used an excerpt from Cicero's books. Due to this strange coincidence, the garbled words of a legendary rhetorician has survived for over four centuries.

Modern-day usage of Lorem Ipsum

Now that we're done discussing the history of Lorem Ipsum, let's take a look at its utility and find out how versatile it can be.

Lorem Ipsum as a content filler

Whether you’re writing a short article for your blog or creating an infographic for content marketing, Lorem Ipsum fills the spaces until you can replace it with actual content.

Lorem Ipsum in Photoshop

Lorem Ipsum text is also used in Photoshop where you can paste dummy text into a text layer. You can do this by creating a text layer, and then select Type>Paste Lorem Ipsum. A paragraph will appear with the classic Lorem Ipsum text.

Lorem Ipsum to minimize distractions of draft copy

The Lorem Ipsum text is not only there as a placeholder. You can also use it to keep you focused on the draft copy. Why do you think the typesetter intentionally garbled Cicero's work? He probably did it to avoid distraction.

So whether you're designing a website or making infographics in the classroom, the lack of coherence in the Lorem Ipsum text will help you focus on your work.

Lorem Ipsum helps you efficiently set up your fonts

The Lorem Ipsum text is also an effective way to set up your fonts before you place your content. For example, you’re writing content for your website, and you want your website to have a specific font, length, and design. Adding the Lorem Ipsum text allows you to efficiently set up the specifics of your font before you place your content. 

RELATED: Want to know something cool? While you're setting up whatever variant of Lorem Ipsum on your site, get creative and learn how to make a whole new font on your own! 

Learn more: Make Your Own Font →

10 Lorem Ipsum alternatives you can use

The Lorem Ipsum text has long been a staple dummy text for most people. And even though the Lorem Ipsum text is a satisfactory one, it doesn’t hurt if you try out other dummy texts. Here are some excellent examples of alternative dummy texts.

1. Not Lorem Ipsum

This type of dummy text is very different from Lorem Ipsum. Where Lorem Ipsum is composed of ineligible Latin terms, Not Lorem Ipsum is made up of original text based on specific industries. They are informative and a delight to use.

2. Fillerati

Brush up your literature chops and make your text look more sophisticated by using the Fillerati text. You can use extracts from out of copyright books by legendary authors such as H.G Wells, and C.S Lewis.

3. Picksum Ipsum

Are you a fan of stage and film? Why not try out the Picksum Ipsum text? Use lines from the best Hollywood films. Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Braveheart, they have it all.

4. Zombie Ipsum

If you are a fan of the zombie genre, then you'll have fun with this Zombie Ipsum generator. It is a vibrant and wonderfully macabre site with well-made zombie-themed texts and graphics.

5. Gangsta Lorem Ipsum

If you're a fan of the hip-hop genre, use fun and spontaneous (though some are dated!) Gangsta Ipsum phrases such as ‘fo shizzle, bae, crizzle, and many others.

6. Fillerama

Are you into science fiction and cult shows like Star Wars or Community? Try out Fillerama! With Filerama, you will be able to use great lines from your favorite shows and movies.

7. Nietzsche Ipsum

Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the greatest philosophers of his time. His works have influenced a multitude of people throughout the years and are perfect to use as text placeholders. Take a peek at Nietzsche Ipsum.

8. Batman Ipsum

Batman is the epitome of cool – he's a superhero, he's a detective, he's a billionaire. And now, you can use his best lines as your text placeholder. Achieve the heights of cool with the Batman Ipsum site!

9. Delorean Ipsum

The Back to the Future movies are some of the most influential and beloved films of all time. If you want to pepper your mock-ups with witty Back to the Future lines, the Delorean Ipsum is the site for you.

10. Rick and Morty Ipsum

The Rick and Morty TV show has gained cult success with its over-the-top humor and splendid animations. But what really sets it apart is its great dialogue, ranging from crazy to eloquent in a matter of minutes. So if you want your mockups to be filled with these great lines, give Rick and Morty Ipsum a try!

Is it bad practice to use Lorem Ipsum?

These days, the question of Lorem Ipsum's relevance is often brought up. Proponents of not using Lorem Ipsum suggest that there is no longer a need to use placeholder text at all. For them, using Lorem Ipsum will only confuse stakeholders and the creative team.

In “Lorem Ipsum Is a Crime,” Jesse Day states that: "placeholder copy is a crutch that lets you put off solving the real problem in hopes that a writer will fix it for you later." 

Using Lorem Ipsum texts is also a pain for visual designers because they can't predict whether or not the design will break when translated to another language. The same could also be said for content designers because they’re unsure about the actual space they're working with.

Love for Lorem Ipsum

Despite all the negative sentiment towards the Lorem Ipsum text, there are still people who love to use it. For Lorem ipsum advocates, it is a practical guide on what the actual text would look like in the spot. And seeing as there are different Lorem Ipsum generators out there, you will have your pick of the most well-made and entertaining Lorem Ipsum generators.

Lorem Ipsum has shown its effectiveness throughout the years. But the text does have its limitations, and there is room for improvement. It has its advantages and disadvantages in equal measure.

Ultimately, it's up to you to weigh them out and decide whether or not you should keep using it. But regardless of your decision, make sure you use the appropriate content management software solution to keep your content and placeholder text uniformly aligned. 

View the Highest-Rated Content Management Software →

What Is Lorem Ipsum? (History, Fun Facts, and Alternatives) Learn the history of the famous Lorem Ipsum text along with some creative alternatives to jazz up your site's placeholder copy!
Kai Tomboc Kai Tomboc is an experienced content designer and writer on all things healthcare, design, and SaaS. She used to be a nurse and a telemarketer in her past lives. She lives for mountain trips, lap swimming, books, and conversations over beer.

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