When you check out your new website design, digital marketing materials, or other items from your graphic design team, you might see totally unreadable text. If you see a sentence that starts Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, no worries! Your designer didn’t fill your site with copywriting in an unknown language.

This strange-looking jumble of words is simply a placeholder called Lorem ipsum with no actual meaning. But what is it? Why are you seeing it? Where did it come from? Let’s dig in.

What Are Placeholder Texts and Why Are They Used?

Lorem ipsum is used as a placeholder text by graphic designers, web designers, and digital marketing gurus to fill a space where your content will eventually live. Many creative and marketing professionals use Lorem ipsum to display font choices and how the project will eventually look without the text being a distraction. Design professionals in many fields use Lorem ipsum, but here are three of the most common:

  • Graphic designers use placeholder text to help them create your project’s visual look and layout before your copywriting is available. Graphic designers also use Lorem ipsum to present recommended font pairings, so you can select the fonts you love that reflect your brand. Plus, since font spacing varies, there’s no point in adding the actual copywriting until a font is chosen.
  • Digital marketing experts use Lorem ipsum to create social media or email templates. That way, you can see how it will look when your fresh content and copywriting replace it. Templates make it a breeze to create on-brand social media posts and emails that you can use over and over.

Why Do Designers Use Lorem Ipsum?

Placeholder texts are super handy as they show you how your design will look during the initial phases of your website design, digital marketing, or other graphic design projects. Placeholder texts can also be used in a process called greeking to obscure distracting text when making changes to the design.

Lorem ipsum has become the most popular placeholder text simply because it doesn’t make sense! It’s a short but sweet paragraph (or more) that contains all the letters of the alphabet with the characters spread out evenly. This allows you to focus on the design and layout rather than reading actual text and getting distracted.

When examining and choosing fonts, placeholder texts like lorem ipsum can also be used by graphic designers. Thousands of fonts are available, so this is where lorem ipsum comes to the rescue. Your designer can find your perfect combination of fonts and style them, so they look amazing before adding your copywriting or other content. 

Where Did Lorem Ipsum Come From?

Despite appearances, Lorem ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of Latin literature with the catchy title De finibus bonorum et malorum (The Extremes of Good and Evil), written way back in 45 B.C. by everyone’s favorite Roman philosopher, Cicero. 

Like many of us, Lorem ipsum took its time gaining popularity. Despite being over 2000 years old, researchers think it wasn’t actually used as a placeholder until some point in the 1500s, when a printer, who we can only assume loved Roman philosophy, was desperate to show off his printing prowess. So, he took the original text and scrambled its order to show off its range of fonts in a specimen book. However, Lorem Ipsum really started to hit the big time in the swinging 60s. Letraset, a supplier of dry-transfer sheets, used Lorem Ipsum in all its advertising.  

Lorem Ipsum then had another surge in popularity in the late 1980s, when it was included in popular desktop publishing software. Since then, it has been included with most software used by web designers, graphic designers, and digital marketing experts, helping cement it as the de facto dummy text. 

What Does Lorem Ipsum Mean in English?

Despite its Latin roots, many words in Lorem ipsum as it’s used today have been modified over the centuries. Sadly, this means Lorem ipsum is no longer considered Latin, even though it looks like it — unless you’re a Latin expert. The word lorem, for example, is a shortened form of the word dolorem, which means pain. However, we can get close to a translation by returning to the original source, part of which translates as:

“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.”

Fancy that — your design may be filled with placeholder text that philosophizes about pain!

Alternatives to Lorem Ipsum

Not everyone is a fan of Lorem ipsum. Luckily, the internet has come to the rescue with alternatives if you don’t want to use a piece of 2000-year-old text. For example, you could use quotes from classic TV shows using Fillerarma, classic novels with Lit Ipsum, pirate speak with Pirate Ipsum, or fill your design with cat speak using Cat Ipsum.  

Now you know all about Lorem ipsum and how your designers use placeholder text to create the best graphic design, web design, and digital marketing assets before they insert the final copywriting.  

If you’re in need of digital marketing, copywriting, and website design contact the branding experts here at Rock Paper Simple. We’d love to empower you to achieve your goals and stand out in your marketplace.