Emphasizing Style Not Meaning: Understanding the Purpose of Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Don’t worry; this whole article isn’t in another language. This whole article is, however, a fundamental study of Lorem Ipsum. Although these words don’t make sense to you, they might look familiar to you. Perhaps you’ve seen these strange words on a website somewhere, but what exactly do they mean? What exactly is the purpose of Lorem Ipsum?

Within the printing, publishing, and graphic design industries, Lorem Ipsum is placeholder text used to visualize the graphic layout of a document where actual text will eventually be. It is understood in these industries that the reader will be distracted by readable content when looking at the layout and design of a publication, therefore dummy text that resembles a normal distribution of letters is used. Even though Lorem Ipsum text bears resemblance to classical Latin language, it is not intended to have meaning, and this is the primary purpose of Lorem Ipsum—to emphasize style, not meaning. A common, yet unprofessional alternative to using Lorem Ipsum is the “Content here, content here, content here” approach. This is readable English, but when repeated does not mimic a typical distribution of letters and can therefore distract from the design elements of a page. Let’s look back to the first sentence of this article. Observe how despite being dummy text, it visually flows with the entire article, just as the following sentence does. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum text is not random text. In 45 BC, Cicero wrote “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil), and Lorem Ipsum comes from two different sections of this book. Essentially, Lorem Ipsum can be translated in English to mean “pain itself” (dolorem = pain, misery, suffering; ipsum = itself). Lorem Ipsum has been the standard dummy text of the graphic design and print publishing industries since the 1500’s. Amazingly, it has withstood the test of time even into the digital age, and is sure to remain a necessary component of good design.

If you Like Us on Facebook, you’ve seen our recent addition of a weekly typeface. These typefaces of the week utilize a brief section of Lorem Ipsum, functioning as a stylistic element with no specific meaning. These small examples also reveal how Lorem Ipsum text can be used with pretty much any typeface. To check out this week’s typeface of the week visit our Facebook Page and be sure to “*Like*” us!

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