9

It's pretty common nowadays—especially for UI mockups—to replace insignificant text with subdued rectangles. See example below.

enter image description here

Does anyone have a really simple way of creating those—especially in a design tool like Illustrator or Photoshop? Of course, I know I can draw/duplicate/position rectangles to look like the text, but it's repetitive and takes a little work to get it to look like natural text (using varying widths, etc.).

It seems like there should be a simpler way. Like a plugin or script that can convert text to those rectangles. Or even a font made up entirely of rectangles—potentially with ligatures for seamless combinations. But I haven't been able to find anything along those lines. Does anyone know of anything?

3
  • You already have a nice answer here, but sometimes it's better to use the Latin filler text that Illustrator and Photoshop can already do. see example. Would that not work for you?
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 21, 2023 at 17:04
  • Nice to see EM dashes used in the question.
    – Lucian
    Mar 21, 2023 at 21:21
  • @BillyKerr Definitely, if working on design proofs/wireframes/etc. But if I'm working on a deliverable that needs greeking (thanks Kris Van Bael), Latin filler text isn't ideal.
    – Pete
    Mar 22, 2023 at 14:45

4 Answers 4

12

The visual effect that you refer to is called "Greeking".

Greeking obscures portions of a work for the purpose of either emphasizing form over details or displaying placeholders for unavailable content. (source: Wikipedia).

Technically speaking, "Lorem Ipsum" placeholder text is also a form of greeking and many design applications can auto-fill a text-box with such meaningless content. But for the clean look that you are asking for, you could use a special font that shows every character as a rectangle.

One of such fonts is called "Blokk" and is available here.

(You hinted to the solution yourself).

2
  • 1
    That font is really funny. Imagine being the designer of that font.
    – Rafael
    Mar 21, 2023 at 21:52
  • Ah ha! I hoped this would exist, but couldn't find it! I'll check it out. And thanks including the terminology! It's so much easier to find things if I know what to call them. :-)
    – Pete
    Mar 22, 2023 at 14:36
11

You can use any text you like (e.g. a Lorem Ipsum text) and use a tool that supports Regular Expressions, such as Notepad++.

Search: \S (upper case S), \S means "no whitespace" (a lower case s would mean "whitespace")

Replace: (Unicode U+2587: lower 7/8 block)

Make sure you have Regular Expressions enabled:

Notepad++ Regex

Use the text as is (example in Word, because I don't have InDesign):

Example in word

Advantages over rectangles: you can change the width of the text field and it will do line breaks accordingly.

1
  • 1
    This is also a nice option.
    – Rafael
    Mar 22, 2023 at 19:46
9

If seeking something which does not possess font dependencies...


Option 1 for Illustrator...

Draw strokes.. then erase...

enter image description here

Chances are I'd do this once and save it to a Symbol Library so I could reuse it often.

One could also randomize the stroke lengths prior to using the Eraser Tool to better formulate a ragged right appearance.

(I'd obviously take a bit more care in erasing if it were for actual usage somewhere.)


Option 2 for Illustrator...

Dashed strokes.

Create an array of strokes and apply the Dashed Line Option. I set 2 lines each with different dash configurations....

enter image description here

enter image description here

Then duplicated those two strokes additional times.

Then randomized the stroke lengths....

enter image description here

And finally changed the dash alignment...

enter image description here

Again, save as a Symbol Library and reuse as often as needed.

2
  • I love this, but I also want to know what the third sentence is—with so many three letter words, haha!
    – Pete
    Mar 22, 2023 at 14:46
  • 2
    They may be four letter words. :)
    – Scott
    Mar 22, 2023 at 14:54
6

If you intend to use InDesign, you can set up a Character Style that uses a thick underline to cover the entire wording. Then you can create a Paragraph Style and under that, a Grep Style, that applies the above Character Style to every word in the paragraph.

Then you fill a box with placeholder text, and apply the Paragraph Style, and you get this.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

You can then adjust leading, font size, underline thickness, etc to control the amount of whitespace you need to get.

With this method, the entire text remains editable, you can copy paste anything else if you need variation, and you can resize the text box. You can also see the actual text, without any formatting, in the Story Editor using CTRL+Y.

2
  • 3
    Nice. You don't have to make the underline so bold though. You can make the text itself invisible by setting Character Color to [None]. Then you can have an x-height thick line on lowercase letters and an cap height thick line on uppercase letters. Perhaps omit the underline on punctuation. Like this.
    – Wolff
    Mar 21, 2023 at 21:12
  • Yes, different ways to customize this after setting up the styles.
    – Lucian
    Mar 21, 2023 at 21:13

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