What Is Lorem Ipsum Text and What Does It Mean?
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Chances are that you’ve seen “lorem ipsum” text in your travels across the web. It often appears in graphic design materials such as WordPress themes and publishing mock-ups.

This text looks like nonsense, so why is it so common? Let’s take a look at what lorem ipsum copy is used for, what lorem ipsum actually means, and how you can easily generate it yourself.

What Is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem ipsum is a name for a common type of placeholder text. Also known as filler or dummy text, this is simply copy that serves to fill a space without actually saying anything meaningful. It’s essentially nonsense text, but gives an idea of what real text will look like in the final product.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the most common form of lorem ipsum text is:

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.

Why Is Lorem Ipsum Used?

You might wonder why a designer would choose to use lorem ipsum text instead of a few paragraphs in English or their native language. Why not just copy and paste a page from an old book or something?

The main reason for this is to keep people from focusing on the actual text. When someone creates a template (or uses a free template website 3 Excellent Sites to Get Free Document Templates 3 Excellent Sites to Get Free Document Templates Rather than creating a new document from scratch, you'll want to start with a template that you can customize. Find free professional templates on one of these sites. Read More ) and wants to get feedback on it, they don’t want the people reviewing it to get distracted by what the text says.

Additionally, lorem ipsum closely resembles actual text. Copying and pasting the same few words would result in an uneven distribution of letters. With lorem ipsum text, you can focus on how the font and page layout looks with almost-real copy.

In that way, it’s a bit like the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. Windows uses this when previewing fonts, as it uses all the letters of the alphabet.

Where Did Lorem Ipsum Come From?

While lorem ipsum text looks like gibberish, it’s actually rooted in a real Latin work. It comes from Cicero’s 45 BC work “De finibus bonorum et malorum” (On the ends of good and evil), which is a look at ethics. The lorem ipsum text comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33.

However, the common lorem ipsum text we use today is not proper Latin. Compared to Cicero’s work, our lorem ipsum text is complete gibberish. It’s had words added, removed, and changed that make it far from its initial form.

Dr. Richard McClintock discovered the source of the text when searching for the rare Latin word “consectetur” in classical literature. His search turned up Cicero’s work.

It’s unknown who made these modifications to the text, or exactly when, to make it the mess of words we know today. Sometime in the 1500s, an unknown printer scrambled words that have survived into the digital age.

What Does Lorem Ipsum Mean?

Lorem Ipsum Board
Image Credit: Lorena Cupcake/Flickr

As we’ve reviewed, lorem ipsum text doesn’t really translate into anything sensible in English. Because the standard lorem ipsum text is a chopped-up version of a real work, you can’t truly translate it.

The actual Latin sentence that the start of lorem ipsum text comes from reads as follows:

“Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit…”

In English, this translates to:

“There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain…”

If you’re interested in reading an English translation of the entire lorem ipsum passage, have a look at lipsum.com. It’s a basic website dedicated to this topic.

How to Generate Lorem Ipsum Text

Want to generate some lorem ipsum text for a project you’re working on?You’ll find several websites that offer this. Keep them in mind next time you need to quickly copy some filler text.

Lipsum.com

Loremipsum.com Text

We mentioned this site above as a general resource for lorem ipsum text. As you’d imagine, no site dedicated to this would be complete without its own generator.

Notably, this site explains that it doesn’t inject anything into the lorem ipsum text. It claims that other sites add humorous elements, repeat after some time, or use nonsensical text. This site instead uses proper Latin words.

Simply choose a number of paragraphs, words, bytes, or lists and click Generate Lorem Ipsum to get a chunk of text you can copy. If you like, you can even uncheck a box and the text won’t start with “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet”.

Generator Lorem-Ipsum

Generator Lorem Ipsum

This site gives you a few more options to generate lorem ipsum text; it’s especially useful if you want to generate similar text in other languages. Select the Other languages/charsets box to change to various scripts and even some artificial languages. Aside from this, set the number of paragraphs or a word limit, then click Generate or Download.

It’s worth mentioning the sister page Unsquiggledlipsum.com linked to on this site. This tool generates lorem ipsum text that won’t trigger your browser, word processor, or similar tool’s spellcheck and thus show red underlines everywhere.

Meet the Ipsums

Meet the Ipsums

Looking for something a little more lighthearted? Check out this page, which links to all sorts of fun lorem ipsum text generators. Most of them don’t actually use “lorem ipsum” in the text, but generate random text based on a theme. Some of these include cats, TV shows, bacon, and pirates.

Lorem Ipsum Dolor… We’re Done

Now you know everything you could possibly wonder about lorem ipsum text. We’ve covered what it’s used for, its origins, and how to generate it yourself. Next time you need some dummy text for a project, you know where to get it.

Now that you know how lorem ipsum can make mock-ups better, check out other tips to make Word documents more professional 10 Simple Design Rules to Make Word Documents Look Professional and Beautiful 10 Simple Design Rules to Make Word Documents Look Professional and Beautiful Do you need to produce high-quality and professional business reports or academic papers? We show you how to format your documents the right way. Read More .

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  4. timmyjohnboy
    September 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

    "...sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC."

  5. timmyjohnboy
    September 5, 2010 at 8:20 am

    This is what Wikipedia says about it: "The lorem ipsum text is typically a section of a Latin text by Cicero with words altered, added and removed that make it nonsensical in meaning and not proper Latin."

    Not sure what the goal of making it nonsensical was other than to help keep people from being distracted by it.

    Speaking of evolution of language, there was a time in the English language when spelling was more "flexible." For instance, the KJV 1611 Bible has had several updates which dealt with spelling changes among other things.

  6. Neki88
    September 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    and what this text mean for gods sake c c c c

    • timmyjohnboy
      September 5, 2010 at 6:21 am

      "...sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC."

  7. Tina
    September 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I once used that text in a presentation about the bibliography program Endnote. Since I just wanted to demonstrate how to insert references with the program, I selected Lorem Ipsum because I didn't want people to read text while I was explaining stuff.

    Unfortunately, people with a higher education tend to know Latin, at least in Europe. And so a discussion ensued about that text and how there were tons of grammar mistakes in it.

    Until this day I wonder whether that is true and if so why? Did the Latin language evolve since Cicero wrote this text? Or - which I find more likely - were those mistakes introduced due to carelessness because due to the way Lorem Ipsum ended up being used, correct grammar and spelling never were a concern.

  8. Tina
    September 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I once used that text in a presentation about the bibliography program Endnote. Since I just wanted to demonstrate how to insert references with the program, I selected Lorem Ipsum because I didn't want people to read text while I was explaining stuff.

    Unfortunately, people with a higher education tend to know Latin, at least in Europe. And so a discussion ensued about that text and how there were tons of grammar mistakes in it.

    Until this day I wonder whether that is true and if so why? Did the Latin language evolve since Cicero wrote this text? Or - which I find more likely - were those mistakes introduced due to carelessness because due to the way Lorem Ipsum ended up being used, correct grammar and spelling never were a concern.

    • Mark O'Neill
      September 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm

      Tina, most probably mistakes have gradually been introduced into the text because no-one really had any cause to read it and notice it. Cicero, who was a very highly educated man (so who would not likely be the one to introduce the mistakes on his own), would probably have a heart attack if he read his text now. :-)

    • timmyjohnboy
      September 5, 2010 at 6:20 am

      This is what Wikipedia says about it: "The lorem ipsum text is typically a section of a Latin text by Cicero with words altered, added and removed that make it nonsensical in meaning and not proper Latin."

      Not sure what the goal of making it nonsensical was other than to help keep people from being distracted by it.

      Speaking of evolution of language, there was a time in the English language when spelling was more "flexible." For instance, the KJV 1611 Bible has had several updates which dealt with spelling changes among other things.

      • Tina
        September 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

        Thank you for the research Tim! :)

  9. Srivatsan Venkatesh
    September 4, 2010 at 1:52 am

    My old planners from my high school days had that text in small print on these pictures of papers on the front cover, always wondered where they came from.