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13 min. read


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Among design professionals, there's a bit of controversy surrounding the filler text. Controversy, as in Death to Lorem Ipsum.

The strength of lorem ipsum is its weakness: it doesn't communicate. To some, designing a website around placeholder text is unacceptable, akin to sewing a custom suit without taking measurements. Kristina Halvorson notes:

“I’ve heard the argument that “lorem ipsum” is effective in wireframing or design because it helps people focus on the actual layout, or color scheme, or whatever. What kills me here is that we’re talking about creating a user experience that will (whether we like it or not) be DRIVEN by words. The entire structure of the page or app flow is FOR THE WORDS.”

Lorem ipsum is so ubiquitous because it is so versatile. Select how many paragraphs you want, copy, paste, and break the lines wherever it is convenient. Real copy doesn't work that way.

As front-end developer Kyle Fiedler put it:

“When you are designing with Lorem Ipsum, you diminish the importance of the copy by lowering it to the same level as any other visual element. The text simply becomes another supporting role, serving to make other aspects more aesthetic. Instead of your design enhancing the meaning of the content, your content is enhancing your design.”

But despite zealous cries for the demise of lorem ipsum, others, such as Karen McGrane, offer appeals for moderation:

“Lorem Ipsum doesn’t exist because people think the content is meaningless window dressing, only there to be decorated by designers who can’t be bothered to read. Lorem Ipsum exists because words are powerful. If you fill up your page with draft copy about your client’s business, they will read it. They will comment on it. They will be inexorably drawn to it. Presented the wrong way, draft copy can send your design review off the rails.”

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.

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