Lorem Ipsum Generators: Fun, Useful, or Detrimental?

/ Misc / by Mariana Ashley / 2 Comments
This post was published back on November 4, 2011 and may be outdated. Please use caution when following older tutorials or using older code. After reading be sure to check for newer procedures or updates to code.

[Ed:- This is a guest post by author Mariana Ashley please direct any thoughts, comments or questions about the article as such. Thank you.]

16 Feb 2018 – Update: Post has been cleaned up to remove two broken links. They have been replaced with suitable alternatives. A standard Lorem Ipsum link has also been added.

All of you have no doubt heard of lorem ipsum. Those of you who write CSS and HTML code probably deal with it on a daily basis. Over recent internet years, there have been many, many (perhaps too many) placeholder text generators that serve many comedic (NSFW), tasty, and bewildering effects. There is, of course, your standard Lorum Ipsum too. Yet there are also some people claiming lorem ipsum has no place in web design at all anyway. What are web builders to do?

Lorem Ipsum Utilities

Lorem ipsum has a rightful purpose in early typeface and print layout history. It is a placeholder text used to demonstrate graphical elements of a visual presentation. Lorem ipsum primarily reveals the viability of a particular font, typography, or layout within a visual design intended to contain text. Because it is not intended to have meaning, lorem ipsum is designed to be an impartial construct to objectively weigh design elements and page layout.

When text is comprehensible in a visual work, people will likely focus on the content of the text itself rather than the overall design. Lorem ipsum is thus used to place emphasis and scrutiny on the publication style rather than the meaning of the text.

Arguments Against Using Lorem Ipsum

Perhaps because of the rising trend of comical text placeholders (followed by the assumption that more text placeholder sites equals more people using text placeholders), there has recently been a current blogging trend that involves denouncing the use of lorem ipsum in web design. The idea is fairly simple:

  • On the web, content and web design are always hand in hand.
    • Therefore, web design should not be created and tweaked independently from the final content.
    • The barrier that lorem ipsum creates between content and design is unnecessary and detrimental.

So Which Is Lorem Ipsum: Detrimental or Useful?

The general principles behind criticisms of lorem ipsum are golden. No designer should ever be getting to work for a client without first having an intimate understanding of what content will be on the site. However, I do believe that many of the arguments I have read are a bit too extreme. Still, they have valid points:

  • Work closely with your writers and content strategists.
  • Ask for any copy that they may have ready before you start designing.
    • Read their copy before designing, and find places in your design to use it.
    • If they don’t have any copy to send you, ask detailed questions about what the content will look like and the ideas the content represents.
  • I also believe there are times when you may want to use lorem ipsum over any copy you may have received from a client. Definitely utilize their copy into your design; however, when you intend on showing your design to your clients, send them a version with ipsum.

    You want them to be critiquing your design, not their copy. When you use the intended copy of the site in a design meeting, discussions will naturally move to the correct wordings of headlines, navigation tabs, and anything other words you can parse from the design. These are all good things to do, but only after you and your client have reached an agreement on the design. Before then, lorem ipsum is a blessing for judging the viability of a design objectively.

    Again, I want to stress that I am not saying you should use lorem ipsum in place of actual content when you begin designing. Even you don’t have any copy when you start, you should have notes, ideas, and a few buzz words written that you should incorporate as you start a design. But once you and your client need to judge designs objectively from content, put in the ipsum.


Author’s gravatar

I like using Lorem Ipsum because usually when you do get copy from a client, there isn’t much there. You can’t always make sure everything is going to wrap the way you want it to with their copy. I wouldn’t say using it is fun but I would say that it is useful. Maybe it would be better to use something that can actually be read like movie quotes or something.

Author’s gravatar

I think I agree that Lorem is useful and can help with kerning, line height etc. I’m in two minds as to if it should make sense or not though.

On one side you have the detraction argument, which I can understand. On the other hand you have the fact that you aren’t seeing what ‘real’ content would look like.

I’m not a massive user of Lorem since I’m a developer & tend not to do design, but it is an interesting subject, and I’m not sure which side I come down on at the minute.

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