What Is “Lorem Ipsum,” and Why Is It Used?

Lorem Ipsum Featured

If you’ve surfed the Internet enough, you may have seen some strange Latin text floating around websites that are under construction. The text seems to be nonsense, but they all start with the same two words, “Lorem Ipsum.” So, what is this strange text, and why does it appear around the Internet?

What Does Lorem Ipsum Look Like?

You’ll mostly find Lorem Ipsum on websites that are under construction. You’ll see paragraphs of text that use this text:

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 may look like some secret code or a message to a hidden organization, but Lorem Ipsum’s main use is far more benign than that. To see why this text is used, we have to peek into the world of design.

What Does Lorem Ipsum Say?

Lorem Ipsum Book

Lorem Ipsum is based on the book “De finibus bonorum et malorum” (On the ends of good and evil), a work by Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero. Lorem Ipsum’s text comes from a portion of the book where Cicero talks about hedonism. However, words have been added, removed, and changed to remove its original meaning.

Why Is Lorem Ipsum Used?

Let’s say you’re designing a website for someone. You want to show them what the website looks like when it’s filled with content. This includes getting dummy articles and putting them on the website, so the client knows what it’ll look like in practice. The question is, how do you generate those dummy articles?

Lorem Ipsum Design

You could use repeating dummy text: for example, “blah blah blah,” “words words words,” or repeating the phrase “text goes here.” The problem with this is that it doesn’t really show what natural-looking text would look like in the article. Plus, it’s kind of unprofessional to show your client their new website with “blah blah blah” posted everywhere!

You could copy-paste content from other websites that are relevant to what your client wants. While this would better show what articles would look like, your client may focus on what’s being said rather than what the website looks like. Even worse, if they dislike the article you posted, it may have a negative effect on your design!

As such, it’s good to use junk words that have the same shape and flow of real words but are still unintelligible to the client. The solution is Lorem Ipsum, a passage that looks similar to Latin but isn’t quite the same. Clients “read” it as if it were text, but they don’t focus on the content itself; just how it looks.

If you’re interested in using Lorem Ipsum for your own projects, there are plenty of Lorem Ipsum generators that will write it for you.

Making Sense of Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is a useful tool when presenting people with a prototype design. Now you know what it is and where it came from, as well as how to make your own!

Simon Batt Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

One comment

  1. “You could copy-paste content from other websites … it may have a negative effect on your design!”

    Not to mention that doing so is illegal and considered theft of intellectual property (IP). If your boss finds out you’ve done it, (s)he’ll fire you. And if the owner of the IP finds out you’ve done it, (s)he’ll sue you and the company you work for…and win. Which is *why* your boss will fire you.

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