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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.

Don’t bother typing “lorem ipsum” into Google translate. If you already tried, you may have gotten anything from “NATO” to “China”, depending on how you capitalized the letters. The bizarre translation was fodder for conspiracy theories, but Google has since updated its “lorem ipsum” translation to, boringly enough, “lorem ipsum”.

One brave soul did take a stab at translating the almost-not-quite-Latin. According to The Guardian, Jaspreet Singh Boparai undertook the challenge with the goal of making the text “precisely as incoherent in English as it is in Latin – and to make it incoherent in the same way”. As a result, “the Greek ‘eu’ in Latin became the French ‘bien’ […] and the ‘-ing’ ending in ‘lorem ipsum’ seemed best rendered by an ‘-iendum’ in English.”

Interpreting nonsense

Here is the classic lorem ipsum passage followed by Boparai's odd, yet mesmerizing version.

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. 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. 

Because it's the internet

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.

Digital ipsum

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.

Design or content

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. Helps them imagine what.

Form Over Function

And that’s why a 15th century typesetter might have scrambled a passage of Cicero; he wanted people to focus on his fonts, to imagine their own content on the pages. He wanted people to see, and to get them to see he had to keep them from reading. And that’s why a 15th century typesetter might have scrambled a passage.

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