Creative & Design

A Beginner's Guide to the Meaning of Lorem Ipsum

Jul 15, 2022

It may sound fancy, but it's really just filler.

William Delong - Guest Contributor
A Beginner's Guide to the Meaning of Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum sounds like the scientific name for an insect. Or maybe it looks like some legal terminology. Perhaps it's a part of human anatomy, as in, "When I was a kid, I skinned my knee, and the doctor said my Lorem Ipsum was showing."

While it's none of these things, it is essential to how UI/UX designers and publishers create websites, print media or other layouts that require a visual design with text when written content isn’t yet available.

What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum, sometimes shortened to lipsum, is placeholder text written in Latin. People use it to speed up the design process and create layouts when written content is yet to be added.

Why do we use Lorem Ipsum?

The primary idea behind Lorem Ipsum is to create typography that does not take people's attention away from the visual layout or importance of various elements on a page, physical or web-based. 

Lorem Ipsum doesn't make sense in any context because no one speaks Latin as an everyday language. Rather than focus on the meaning behind the written text on a page, a UI/UX designer can determine how the visual layout of an overall page should look if there is real text there. 

For example, a web designer can only fit enough letters on a screen for it to look right on a mobile device based on where the text boxes need to be. To ensure the size is correct, the designer incorporates Lorem Ipsum to gauge how big or small the text can be on specific screen elements by adjusting the size, font, style, and formatting of the Lorem Ipsum text to make sure the written content will fit properly around the visual elements.

What is the history of Lorem Ipsum?

To fully appreciate Lorem Ipsum, we must go back to Ancient Rome. In 45 BCE, Roman philosopher Cicero wrote a book called De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, or The Ends of Good and Evil. During the Renaissance, Cicero became popular among European scholars who rediscovered the classics.

Richard McClintock[1], a Latin Scholar from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, discovered a Renaissance-era text from 400 years ago showing Lorem Ipsum text on a manuscript. He believed a typesetter used four sentences in Cicero's masterpiece to demonstrate how his printing method worked to reproduce books. Like software companies can demo their work as a free trial, the printer created a demo to show prospective patrons.

Lorem Ipsum has been around in some form with modern typesetters in the 1960s. When Aldus Pagemaker came out in the mid-1980s, this Latin text hit the mainstream with computer-aided graphic design.

What does Lorem Ipsum literally mean?

Lorem Ipsum is a shortened form of "dolorem ipsum," a phrase that translates to "pain itself" (try not to read too much into the meaning of the words).

How do we create Lorem Ipsum?

The entire four sentences of Lorem Ipsum mean nothing, even though the text is based on historical writing from Cicero. It's merely a generic text that holds a place in a file until the actual text or visuals are created to replace it. Adobe generates Lorem Ipsum automatically as designers test various layers of their visual elements. 

You can generate Lorem Ipsum in programs like InDesign and Microsoft Word. Typically, this function works when you choose the size of the text box you want, and then use whatever command you need to fill in Lorem Ipsum. Then these programs fill in the amount of text you need.

The text repeats itself throughout a graphic design, generated automatically by web design software. You'll see the same four sentences of Lorem Ipsum repeated on multiple web pages over and over.

How do we get creative with Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum serves another purpose beyond a placeholder text on a website. It allows graphic designers to experiment with various fonts to see how they look compared to the visual elements on a page, a company's brand name, or the typography in a business' logo. 

Changing the font, size, and design of Lorem Ipsum allows designers to efficiently see how the specifics work before writing in the actual text.

What are some alternatives to Lorem Ipsum?

Graphic designers have come up with several alternatives to Lorem Ipsum now that it's everywhere, and productivity tools obviate the need for distracting lines of text.

Zombie Ipsum uses macabre sentences and text for fans of the zombie genre. Picksum Ipsum takes lines from classic movies and puts them into text holders. There are dummy text generators for fans of Batman, hip-hop, Nietzsche, and even Back to the Future (with DeLorean Ipsum). If you need an Ipsum, there's a generator for you.

Who can help me with a Lorem Ipsum generator?

Lorem Ipsum is commonly found in website design software. GetApp can help you find the right website builder software that meets your needs, whether you're designing a website yourself or looking for new tools to help your marketing agency excel.


About the author

William Delong - Guest Contributor

William has been a professional writer and editor for 13 years, delivering SEO-focused copy that engages with target audiences across a wide swath of industries, from legal and medical to marketing and technology. His ultimate goal? Write a bestselling Star Trek novel.
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