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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet 22 September, 2006

Posted by Jay Ball in Uncategorized.
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No I’m not trying to fill space with nothing to say (even though it’s Friday). For anyone working in an agency, the lorem ipsum text is probably the one passage of copy they see most in their professional lives. If they are an art director or designer they usually wish that all copy could be like lorem ipsum. If it doesn’t fit, simply lose a few letters out of a word here or a word there. Copywriters, however, bemoan the fact that their copy will have to fit a pre-set word limit that’s been created just to look good in the layout.

The question that always comes up at some point is: what does it mean? Explanation of its roots can be found at Lipsum.com. From the site:

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from 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. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

As to the meaning, it comes from a treatise about pleasure, toil and pain (this feels somehow appropriate). A full translation can be found here – although the lorem ipsum we use today is a bit scrambled from the original. The Ipsum.com site has a Lorem generator as does Subterrane.com (along with other non-lorem passages).

Of course you don’t have to go the Latin route (geddit?). Using the Jabberwocky XTension in QuarkXPress you can select from a range of texts (including Esperanto and Klingon). I’ve also seen some agencies write their own spoof copy (although the one time I tried this the first person to look at the concept got half way through the copy before realising which reduced the impact somewhat). But my favourite text generator so far can be found at Malevole.com – if only all copy was so quick to create.

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