What is Lorem Ipsum Text?

Taken from the Latin words "dolorem ipsum", which translates to "pain itself", Lorem Ipsum text saw a revival in the mid-20th century as placeholder text in printing and design. Below, we've shared the origins of Lorem Ipsum, why it's so important, and why designers continue to use it today. 

What is Lorem Ipsum Text? 

In the modern design world, Lorem Ipsum is the industry standard when placing dummy text onto an unfinished page, whether it's a newspaper, magazine, or advertisement. The Latin text was first used in the 16th century, when a printer scrambled a row of type (known as a "galley") so it could be used in a book that showcased the type's quality. This text saw a resurgence when electronic typesetting became popular in the 1960s, mainly because the French typography company Letraset started selling sheets with Lorem Ipsum.

Where Does the Text Originate?

Lorem Ipsum is taken from a book called The Extremes of Good and Evil, written by Cicero in 45 BC. The book is an exploration of ethics and moral theories, and it found a huge fanbase during the Renaissance. Cicero was a philosopher and politician who served during the Roman Empire, and he had a lasting influence on European thought. This is why printmakers began using Lorem Ipsum text in the 1500s.  

In the early 1980s, Latin professor Richard McClintock connected the dots between Lorem Ipsum and Cicero's writing when he traced the arcane word "consectetur" back through classical literature, until he found the original passage. Here is the first section of Cicero's original text, translated into English by H. Rackham:

"But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?"

Why is Lorem Ipsum Still Used Today?

When looking at an unfinished design — whether it's a web graphic, newspaper, or magazine layout — the content will always draw people's attention. Instead of using repeating English text, like the words "Sample Text, Sample Text…" over and over, Lorem Ipsum uses a variety of words, with different lengths that reflect how writing actually looks. 

However, many versions of today's Lorem Ipsum text are altered to be randomized, so that text doesn't repeat as often. They may also employ a humorous take on Latin words, turning them into made-up English versions. Popular applications like Wordpress, Google Docs, and Microsoft Word all have built-in Lorem Ipsum features.  

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