Graphic Design

What is Lorem Ipsum?

You may have seen the term Lorem Ipsum around the internet (or at ye olde print shoppe). You can even see on my Twitter bio I facetiously claim to speak Lorem Ipsum. But what is it? Is it a real language? Why does it even exist in the first place?

Is Lorem Ipsum a language?

Lorem Ipsum is not, strictly speaking, a language. It is based on Latin, and certainly some of the words could be directly translated. But it is not intended to mean anything or relay any information.

It can be a fun activity to pop sections of Lorem Ipsum into Google Translate. For example:

ipsum dolor sit amet

Translates to:

the pain itself is to be loved


Why does Lorem Ipsum exist?

Lorem Ipsum exists because it looks like real text. When designing a page layout, whether digitally or physically, it is helpful to have some text where paragraphs are meant to go. But you almost never have the finished text to test.

It can also be distracting to the viewer if real text is used. Your eyes instinctively focus on the copy and subconsciously read the lines. Rather than looking at the white space, balance, layout, or design, you focus instead on the text. Real text is distracting enough. Silly placeholder text is even worse.

That’s where Lorem Ipsum comes in. It occupies the same space using roughly the same letters, word lengths, sentence structure, and cadence. But it’s completely unreadable, so your eyes are not distracted by its presence. Take this paragraph for example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam congue a elit a rutrum. Cras vestibulum dapibus quam non auctor. Donec gravida tempor pulvinar. Nam id efficitur arcu. Suspendisse congue eu sem vel luctus. Suspendisse ut justo aliquam, suscipit purus et, pharetra justo. Aenean faucibus orci non sodales scelerisque. Nullam dignissim efficitur dui vel bibendum. Nulla facilisi. Integer laoreet quis purus dapibus euismod. Praesent eget leo a libero semper elementum nec sit amet est.

Pleasing in its composition, but mostly utter nonsense.

Where to get Lorem Ipsum?

One thing you may notice about Lorem Ipsum is that it’s consistent. It always stars with the same words and has remain unchanged since around the 1500s. So where is everyone getting it?

The good news is, these days there are plenty of generators available online. My favorite is at Lipsum.com. Here you can specify how many paragraphs, words, or bytes of text you need. Click a button, copy/paste, and you can move on to more important aspects of your design. The ease of this beats even the fastest gibberish typer, so I will use it exclusively for any design activities. Give it a try on your next layout and feel in on the secret of Lorem Ipsum!