What’s Lorem Ipsum?

We’ve just sent a mockup for a new website to a client. Some of the content is complete, but some is still being worked on. Since our designer didn’t have content for all parts of the homepage, he filled in with placeholder text. The traditional text for this purpose is called “lorem ipsum.” It’s the reason I occasionally get an alarmed email from a client saying, perhaps, that “the homepage looks okay, but the inner pages have Italian in them.”

This is actually a passage from Cicero, sort of messed up by a printer in the 1500s who needed some random text to work with. Many designers use it to hold the place of text and show that there will be text in the place where the lorem ipsum currently is.

Not everyone uses lorem ipsum. Some designers grab a paragraph of the actual text, and then repeat it everywhere in the site. Some snag text from favorite books or poetry. I saw one design that began “stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff ” and then in the next section continued “more stuff more stuff more stuff more stuff .”

Why do designers use lorem ipsum?

  • So you won’t get distracted. Sometimes the designer wants to know how you feel about the colors or general layout, and doesn’t want you thinking about your content while looking at the design. Many people do get distracted by meaningful text, and find it hard to judge the strictly visual aspects of the design.
  • So they won’t get distracted. Fitting the content into the page can be more complicated than you might think. Getting everything aligned correctly, avoiding orphan words at the end of a paragraph, making sure that the spacing is just right — a designer may prefer not to deal with those issues until the main decisions about the design have been made.
  • Plus, it looks more natural than the alternatives. A paragraph of “more stuff more stuff more stuff” doesn’t actually look like normal language. Lorem ipsum gives a normal distribution of letters and so looks more like actual text.

Now you know.

One thought on “What’s Lorem Ipsum?

  1. Pingback: Better Classroom Website in a Week: Monday, Plan Your Layout | My Fresh Plans

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