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The passage experienced a surge in popularity during the 1960s when Letraset used it on their dry-transfer sheets, and again during the 90s as desktop publishers bundled the text with their software. Today it’s seen all around the web; on templates, websites, and stock designs. Use our generator to get your own, or read on for the authoritative history of lorem ipsum.

Aldus Corporation, which later merged with Adobe Systems, ushered lorem ipsum into the information age with its desktop publishing software Aldus PageMaker. The program came bundled with lorem ipsum dummy text for laying out page content, and other word processors like Microsoft Word followed suit. More recently the growth of web design has helped proliferate lorem ipsum across the internet as a placeholder for future text—and in some cases the final content (this is why we proofread, kids).

Ingredients

1. history, purpose and usage

So when is it okay to use lorem ipsum? First, lorem ipsum works well for staging. It’s like the props in a furniture store—filler text makes it look like someone is home. The same WordPress template might eventually be home to a fitness blog, a photography website, or the online journal of a cupcake fanatic. Lorem ipsum helps them imagine what the lived-in website might look like.

Second, use lorem ipsum if you think the placeholder text will be too distracting. For specific projects, collaboration between copywriters and designers may be best, however, like Karen McGrane said, draft copy has a way of turning any meeting about layout decisions into a discussion about word choice. So don’t be afraid to use lorem ipsum to keep everyone focused.

One word of caution: make sure your client knows that lorem ipsum is filler text. You don’t want them wondering why you filled their website with a foreign language, and you certainly don’t want anyone prematurely publishing it.

2. Remixing a Classic

There was that time artists at Sequence opted to hand-Sharpie the lorem ipsum passage on a line of paper bags they designed for Chipotle—the result being a mixture of avant-garde, inside joke, and Sharpie-stained tables. Those with an eye for detail may have caught a tribute to the classic text in an episode of Mad Men (S6E1 around 1:18:55 for anyone that didn’t). And here is a lorem ipsum tattoo.

Of course, we’d be remiss not to include the veritable cadre of lorem ipsum knock offs featuring:

  • Bacon Ipsum – Served all day. “Bacon ipsum dolor amet chicken turducken spare ribs.”

  • Hipster Ipsum – In case you’re in need of a “shoreditch direct trade four dollar toast copper mug.”

  • Corporate Ipsum – “Leveraging agile frameworks to provide a robust synopsis” from eight to five.

  • Legal Ipsum – Fully unlicensed legalese for those times you don’t want to pay $400/hr.

Not to mention, Cupcake Ipsum, Bob Ross Ipsum (“happy little clouds”), and the furry Cat Ipsum. And in case that’s not enough, check out our very own Ultimate List of Lorem Ipsum Generators.

So there you have it. Lorem ipsum: the nonsense words unable to fully escape meaning.

3. Usage and Examples

McClintock wrote to Before & After to explain his discovery:

“What I find remarkable is that this text has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since some printer in the 1500s took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book; it has survived not only four centuries of letter-by-letter resetting but even the leap into electronic typesetting, essentially unchanged except for an occasional ‘ing’ or ‘y’ thrown in. It’s ironic that when the then-understood Latin was scrambled, it became as incomprehensible as Greek; the phrase ‘it’s Greek to me’ and ‘greeking’ have common semantic roots!” (The editors published his letter in a correction headlined “Lorem Oopsum”).

As an alternative theory, (and because Latin scholars do this sort of thing) someone tracked down a 1914 Latin edition of De Finibus which challenges McClintock’s 15th century claims and suggests that the dawn of lorem ipsum was as recent as the 20th century. The 1914 Loeb Classical Library Edition ran out of room on page 34 for the Latin phrase “dolorem ipsum” (sorrow in itself). Thus, the truncated phrase leaves one page dangling with “do-”, while another begins with the now ubiquitous “lorem ipsum”.

Whether a medieval typesetter chose to garble a well-known (but non-Biblical—that would have been sacrilegious) text, or whether a quirk in the 1914 Loeb Edition inspired a graphic designer, it’s admittedly an odd way for Cicero to sail into the 21st century.

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