Lorem Ipsum

Anyone working in the print or design industry knows about lorem ipsum. It’s dummy text, meaning text you throw onto a page to hold the place of future copy. Dummy text lets you set up layout and design features without distracting the reader with temporary copy, but what is lorem ipsum?

Printers have been using lorem ipsum since the 1500s. The name of the printer who started it has been lost to history, but lorem ipsum has survived into the digital age. But, again, what is lorem ipsum?

Lorem ipsum is scrambled text from a work by Cicero written in 45 BC, de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (On the Ends of Good and Evil). It’s mostly about pleasure and pain. And, so you can get a feel for what it’s all about, here’s a translated passage from which some of the text (pre-scrambled) was taken:

“But 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 because 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?”

Circumstances in which toil and pain procure great pleasure?  Yep, that’s pretty much the life of a designer.