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Lorem Ipsum: usage

diagonal layout based on Lorem IpsumLorem ipsum is a pseudo-Latin text used in web design, typography, layout, and printing in place of English to emphasise design elements over content. It’s also called placeholder (or filler) text. It’s a convenient tool for mock-ups. It helps to outline the visual elements of a document or presentation, eg typography, font, or layout. Lorem ipsum is mostly a part of a Latin text by the classical author and philosopher Cicero. Its words and letters have been changed by addition or removal, so to deliberately render its content nonsensical; it’s not genuine, correct, or comprehensible Latin anymore. While lorem ipsum‘s still resembles classical Latin, it actually has no meaning whatsoever. As Cicero’s text doesn’t contain the letters K, W, or Z, alien to latin, these, and others are often inserted randomly to mimic the typographic appearence of European languages, as are digraphs not to be found in the original.

In a professional context it often happens that private or corporate clients corder a publication to be made and presented with the actual content still not being ready. Think of a news blog that’s filled with content hourly on the day of going live. However, reviewers tend to be distracted by comprehensible content, say, a random text copied from a newspaper or the internet. The are likely to focus on the text, disregarding the layout and its elements. Besides, random text risks to be unintendedly humorous or offensive, an unacceptable risk in corporate environments. Lorem ipsum and its many variants have been employed since the early 1960ies, and quite likely since the sixteenth century.

Lorem Ipsum: common examples

layout based on Lorem IpsumMost of its text is made up from sections 1.10.32–3 of Cicero’s De finibus bonorum et malorum (On the Boundaries of Goods and Evils; finibus may also be translated as purposes). Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit is the first known version (« Neither is there anyone who loves grief itself since it is grief and thus wants to obtain it »). It was found by Richard McClintock, a philologist, director of publications at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia; he searched for citings of consectetur in classical Latin literature, a term of remarkably low frequency in that literary corpus.

Cicero famously orated against his political opponent Lucius Sergius Catilina. Occasionally the first Oration against Catiline is taken for type specimens: Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? (How long, O Catiline, will you abuse our patience? And for how long will that madness of yours mock us?)

Cicero’s version of Liber Primus (first Book), sections 1.10.32–3 (fragments included in most Lorem Ipsum variants in red):

Cicero writing letters; from an early edition by Hieronymus ScotusSed ut perspiciatis, unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam eaque ipsa, quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt, explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem, quia voluptas sit, aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos, qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt, neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci[ng] velit, sed quia non numquam [do] eius modi tempora inci[di]dunt, ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit, qui in ea voluptate velit esse, quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum, qui dolorem eum fugiat, quo voluptas nulla pariatur?

Lorem Ipsum: translation

The Latin scholar H. Rackham translated the above in 1914:

De Finibus Bonorum Et MalorumBut I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again 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. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

Lorem Ipsum: variants and technical information

Adobe Fireworks Lorem Ipsum pluginIn 1985 Aldus Corporation launched its first desktop publishing program Aldus PageMaker for Apple Macintosh computers, released in 1987 for PCs running Windows 1.0. Both contained the variant lorem ipsum most common today. Laura Perry, then art director with Aldus, modified prior versions of Lorem Ipsum text from typographical specimens; in the 1960s and 1970s it appeared often in lettering catalogs by Letraset. Anecdotal evidence has it that Letraset used Lorem ipsum already from 1970 onwards, eg. for grids (page layouts) for ad agencies. Many early desktop publishing programs, eg. Adobe PageMaker, used it to create template.

Most text editors like MS Word or Lotus Notes generate random lorem text when needed, either as pre-installed module or plug-in to be added. Word selection or sequence don’t necessarily match the original, which is intended to add variety. Presentation software like Keynote or Pages use it as a samples for screenplay layout. Content management software as Joomla, Drupal, Mambo, PHP-Nuke, WordPress, or Movable Type offer Lorem Ipsum plug-ins with the same functionality.

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