Lorem Ipsum: The Internet’s Favorite Placeholder Text

Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more

Sharing is caring!

The most common placeholder text in the world begins with the phrase “Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet . . .”

Where does this mysterious text come from? Is it Latin? Greek? What does it mean? Is it just gibberish? Why do graphic designers use this dummy text when they’re working on digital and print drafts?

Just looking for the ipsum to copy and paste? We have that just below

What You’ll Learn

In this article, you’ll learn some theories about the origins of lorem ipsum. And you’ll discover how it was adopted by the typesetting and publishing industry.

You’ll get practical tips on generating lorem ipsum using popular design and development software tools like Visual Studio and Adobe Illustrator. And we’ll share some funny lorem ipsum generators created for entertainment purposes.

What Is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem ipsum is the short-hand term for the most popular placeholder text in history, used for decades by graphic designers, web developers, and the publishing industry.

Here’s what a paragraph of lorem ipsum looks like:

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.

Though lorem ipsum is sometimes referred to as greek copy or greeking, lorem ipsum text is a garbled form of Latin text.

Latin is the language of ancient Rome. (Today, classical Latin is no longer spoken and is considered a dead language, although a variant, Ecclesiastical Latin, is still used by the Roman Catholic Church).

Why Use Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum, as filler text, is used:

  • To demonstrate font faces
  • In draft designs and mockups.

“Why do you need fancy pants, special text to do this?” you ask.

The Client Hasn’t Delivered the Copy

One of the most typical uses of lorem ipsum is when a client has not yet finalized the copy for a project, yet the designer wants to get feedback on early design drafts.

Rather than fill the design with text, say, from a random source like a newspaper article or novel, the designer will often use lorem ipsum. There’s an additional reason for this though.

You Want to Highlight the Design Elements

Graphic designers often report that when a client sees a design with actual text, they focus on the text itself and become distracted from evaluating the design elements. But when using lorem ipsum, the text — because it’s meaningless — takes a back seat to the visual elements under scrutiny.

Furthermore, these text snippets contain, more or less, an even distribution of the letters of the alphabet.

Copy and Paste Lorem Ipsum

Below we have lorem ipsum in easy to use forms.

HTML Lorem Ipsum

This HTML markup version allows you to see how each HTML element is going to render. Copy and paste this into your preferred HTML editor.

<h1>Lorem Ipsum dolor</h1><br />
<p>Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, <em>quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.</em> 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.</p><br />
<h2>Lorem Ipsum dolor</h2><br />
<p><strong>Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.</strong> 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.</p>
<ul>
<li>Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet</li>
<li>consectetur adipiscing elit</li>
</ul>
<h3>Lorem Ipsum dolor</h3>
<ol>
<li>sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua</li>
<li>Ut enim ad minim veniam</li>
</ol>
<h4>Lorem Ipsum dolor</h4><br />
<p>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.</p>

Plain Text Lorem Ipsum

If you’d rather use lorem ipsum that doesn’t include HTML markup (eg, to use in Microsoft Word, WordPress’s visual editor, or the WYSIWYG editor of your choice), you can use this version.

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.

How to Generate Lorem Ipsum with Design and Dev Tools

Most modern design and development software tools ship with a built-in lorem ipsum generator or enable you to easily install a plugin (or “package”) generator.

Here are the instructions for generating lorem ipsum in some of the most common design and dev tools.

Adobe Photoshop

If you are using Adobe Photoshop, to create type (and, more specifically, lorem-ipsum placeholder text), you will need to:

  1. Use the text function by hitting T on your keyboard or by selecting the T in the left-hand navigation panel
  2. Draw a text box
  3. With the cursor active inside the text box you just drew, go to Type > Paste lorem ipsum.

Adobe Illustrator

For Adobe Illustrator, you can create text frames using the Type tool. Illustrator will automatically fill the frame with placeholder text, a behavior that is on by default. Note that this text also appears when you convert a non-text item to one that contains text.

lorem ipsum adobe illustrator

Microsoft Word

If you are running the Windows version of Microsoft Word, you can type =lorem() and press enter to populate your document with filler text. Mac users, however, do not currently have this function and will need to settle for =rand(), which fills the page with, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Sublime Text

With Sublime Text, just type “lorem” and hit TAB. A paragraph of lorem Ipsum filler text will automatically be generated. (Note: This shortcut is case-sensitive.)

lorem ipsum sublime text

Atom

GitHub’s Atom editor is similar to Sublime in that you do not need to install any packages. There’s a lorem ipsum function built-in. Simply type “lorem” (case-sensitive) and hit TAB.

lorem ipsum atom

LaTeX

For those who are typesetting their documents using LaTeX, lorem ipsum is available via the lipsum package, which allows you to input up to 150 paragraphs of filler text. You can also input individual lorem ipsum sentences.

Visual Studio Code

Microsoft’s open-source IDE, Visual Studio Code, ships with Emmet installed.

This gives you an easy shortcut for generating lorem: just type “lorem” and hit “enter.”

visual studio code lorem ipsum

WordPress

The easiest way to make lorem ipsum available to you in WordPress is to install one of the many available plugins. To do so, you will need to:

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Plugins > Add New.
  3. Run a search for “lorem ipsum” and choose the plugin you would like to install.
  4. Click Install Now
  5. Click Activate.

WordPress will take care of the rest.

Web-Based Generator

If you want something web-based that will generate text on the fly, consider Dummy Text — a javascript program that allows you to easily insert lorem ipsum in headers, paragraphs, and lists.

What’s the History Behind Lorem Ipsum?

If you google the history of lorem ipsum you’ll find many articles that say it was created in the 1500s by Renaissance era book printers. But is that true?

In this nascent period of publishing, typefaces were sculpted (or “punchcut”) and cast in metal alloys. This was a painstaking, multi-step process involving steel, copper, fire, wood, and water.

woodcuts renaissance book arts
Renaissance woodcuts by artist Jost Amman (1539-1591) depicting (left) typecasting and (right) book binding.

Early European Typography: How Typefaces Were Made

Punchcutting: A punch is an individual letter carved atop a palm-sized shaft of steel. After the intricate process of carving (or “engraving”) the punch would be heated and tempered to harden it.

Striking the matrix: A finished punch would be tapped with a hammer into a piece of soft copper or brass to form a concave impression called a “matrix.” This is called “striking the matrix.”

jean jannon matrices
Matrices created by the French punchcutter and type founder Jean Jannon (1580 – 1658).

Type casting: The matrix was placed in the bottom of a hand-held mold. A molten lead alloy was then poured into the mold to form a single cast metal letter called a “sort” or “type.”

This time-consuming work preceded the actual printing process.


Video: insights into the historic practice of punchcutting, produced by an organization dedicated to increasing knowledge of Francesco Griffo, a famed punchcutter of the Italian Renaissance.[/caption]

Did Renaissance Type Founders Use Dummy Text?

Consider: Why would these busy type designers (called “type founders”) bother to create dummy text? And who would samples of dummy text be for?

We find our next clue by visiting a time period two centuries after the Renaissance.

Introducing Specimen Sheets

In the 18th century, owners of type foundries sometimes published “specimen sheets” displaying samples of their various typefaces. During this era, there was a greater variety of typefaces available. So we can understand the value in creating “specimen sheets.”

We note though, that one of the most famous type founders of that period, William Caslon, was so successful (and busy) that it wasn’t until 10 years after the launch of his business that he got around to creating a specimen sheet. So it’s fair to say specimen sheets weren’t always a priority for printers.

Did They Use Lorem Ipsum?

These specimen sheets used passages from classical works of literature.

No historic samples of dummy text — lorem ipsum or otherwise — have been found from the 16th, 17th, or 18th — or even 19th — centuries.

william caslon specimen sheet
At left: the William Caslon specimen sheet. Inset: a small section of the sheet displaying “English Roman” typeface. Caslon’s samples displayed a passage from Cicero’s First Oration Against Cataline followed by the alphabet. No lorem ipsum here.

Remember that the variety of typefaces in that era didn’t come near what we enjoy today. There are thousands of fonts available on the internet.

An Absurd Story

So the idea that lorem ipsum dummy text was created in the 1500s sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

Yet this fake history is so widely circulated that it’s become a form of dummy text itself, notes DLPDigital, a London-based agency.

Investigating the Origins of Lorem Ipsum

“Speculation, not scholarship,” is how Dr. Richard McClintock describes this dubious history.

McClintock holds a PhD in Latin and is the former publications director for Hampden-Sydney College. We think he has the best theory on the origins of lorem ipsum. He shared it in an interview with Public Radio International.

In the mid-1990s, McClintock searched the lorem ipsum passage for the most unusual Latin word he could find. (Yes, there are some intact Latin words in it.) That word was consectetur, which means to follow after.

A Piece of the Puzzle: Cicero’s Treatise on Ethics

Then he did a search for that term in an index of classical Latin literature. Sure enough, he found a match in a phrase from a work on ethics written in 54 BC by Marcus Tullius Cicero: De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (On the Ends of Good and Evil).

Here’s the passage that contains consectetur:

Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem.

The English translation of this passage reads:

Nor is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure.

cicero de finibus bonorum et malorum
At left: A version of Cicero’s De Finibus from the Middle Ages; at right, a contemporary edition from Amazon.

How Did Lorem Ipsum Become Gibberish Text?

But how did “dolorem ipsum” in the original text get shortened to “lorem ipsum?” And why are words and letters missing or scrambled?

The scholar found his answer in a 1914 edition of De Finibus in the Loeb Classical Library, a printed collection of classical works.

The 1914 edition of De Finibus in the Loeb Classical Library, there is a page break that starts with “lorem ipsum.” The “do-” is on the page before it. And there’s a very good chance that it was that little galley of type that somebody took and scrambled physically to come up with dummy type for Macmillan’s designers.

Lorem Ipsum in the Modern Typesetting and Publishing Industry

Okay, so we know that lorem ipsum has its roots in a passage written by classical philosopher Cicero. And we have a credible theory of how and why this filler text was created.

But how did it gain traction in the typesetting industry?

1960s – 1980s: Letraset’s Dry Transfer Sheets

Most industry observers trace lorem ipsum’s rise to the creation of “dry transfer sheets” by a French company called Letraset.

These dry transfer sheets contained individual letters and paragraphs that could be rubbed off onto paper pages of graphic design projects. They were used by professionals and amateurs.

Letraset provided “rub-off” lorem ipsum passages to be used as dummy text.


Video: See a demonstration of how Letraset sheets worked.

The Mid-1980s: The Rise of Desktop Publishing and Aldus PageMaker

Letraset’s dry transfer sheets were eclipsed by the advent of desktop publishing in the 1980s.

Aldus’ popular PageMaker software included lorem ipsum for use by designers. PageMaker was instrumental in helping desktop publishing to become widely adopted.

The 1990s and Beyond: Adobe Software, Browser Extensions, and Text Editors

Adobe acquired PageMaker in 1994 and replaced it in 1999 with Adobe’s InDesign.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was common for designers to use the “copy and paste” method of adding lorem ipsum as filler text. Many still do.

But today, popular software apps, like Photoshop and Illustrator have built-in ways of generating lorem ipsum with one or more clicks.

As described earlier in this article, text editors — used by web developers — like Sublime Text, Visual Studio, Dreamweaver and Atom — also include ways to generate lorem. Brackets allows you to install packages that will do it via a shortcut.

In addition, there are Chrome extensions (and other browser extensions) that will generate lorem ipsum.

Frequently Asked Questions

More questions about lorem ipsum? We have answers.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet: What does it mean?

Lorem ipsum is nonsensical text. Don’t bother doing a search for “lorem ipsum google translate.” Google can’t translate it for you. But, thanks to The Guardian, we bring you a rough translation offered by classics scholar Jaspreet Singh Boparai:

“Rrow itself, let it be sorrow; let him love it; let him pursue it, ishing for its acquisitiendum. Because he will ab hold, unless but through concer, and also of those who resist. Now a pure snore disturbeded sum dust. He ejjnoyes, in order that somewon, also with a severe one, unless of life. May a cusstums offficer somewon nothing of a poison-filled. Until, from a twho, twho chaffinch may also pursue it, not even a lump. But as twho, as a tank; a proverb, yeast; or else they tinscribe nor. Yet yet dewlap bed. Twho may be, let him love fellows of a polecat. Now amour, the, twhose being, drunk, yet twhitch and, an enclosed valley’s always a laugh. In acquisitiendum the Furies are Earth; in (he takes up) a lump vehicles bien.”

Should I really use lorem ipsum?

There are some people who argue that you should never use lorem ipsum dummy text. We see merit in the arguments put forth by the designers, such as Kyle Fiedler, who argue that you should stop using lorem ipsum. Their arguments rest on the idea that content is king and that design, when well-executed, should be shaped around the final content.

“By adding Lorem Ipsum to the design you are essentially dressing your king before you know his size,” says Fiedler

However, it’s common for clients to miss deadlines to provide copy. Using lorem ipsum allows the design part of the project to move forward. Clients sometimes provide copy very late, in the final stages of a project.

Is “lorem ipsum” Latin?

Lorem ipsum text is a scrambled version of a passage in classical Latin derived from the Marcus Tullius Cicero’s treatise on ethics, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, written in 54 BC. Lorem ipsum is a garbled version of that original Latin text, and is nonsensical.

Where Can I Find Funny Filler Text?

There are a variety of humorous placeholder text generators. Here are some of the most popular ones.

  1. Trump Ipsum: Make Placeholder Text Great Again!
  2. Obama Ipsum
  3. Bacon Ipsum
  4. Batman Ipsum
  5. DeLorean Ipsum: The Back to the Future Ipsum
  6. Business Jargon Lorem Ipsum
  7. Cheeseburger Ipsum
  8. Skate Ipsum
  9. Cupcake Ipsum
  10. Fillerama
  11. Lit Ipsum
  12. Pirate Ipsum
  13. Zombie Ipsum
  14. Bro Ipsum: One Copy to Bro Them All

Summary

Lorem ipsum is the most popular type placeholder text in the world, used since at least the 1960s in both print and digital media.

The use of this placeholder text is not without controversy, but there will always be a use for it, as long as clients are late in delivering copy to designers.


Photo credits: Renaissance woodcuts: lefthand woodcut from Wikipedia, in the public domain; righthand woodcut, WikiMedia Commons, public domain. Photo of Jean Jannon’s matrices by ActuaLitté via Flickr and Wikipedia, Creative Commons license: CC BY-SA 2.0. Specimen sheet group of 2 photos: Photo at left of William Caslon specimen sheet via Wikipedia, public domain, Inset image at right was created by James Arboghast: William Caslon English Roman typeface via Wikipedia, Creative Commons license: CC BY-SA 3.0. The two specimen sheet photos were combined by Placeholder.com. Image of historical edition of De Finibus via Creative Commons 4.0 License.

Contributing Writer and Editor: Sherrie Gossett

shares