Is there a better way to represent text in a layout or design?

"Lorem Ipsum" is good at taking your attention away from the text to showcase the design as a whole but I think it looks unnatural for typeset design.

Why is it used and is there a better way?

What alternatives the experts use for dummy/placeholder text?


9 Answers 9


This history is not for you its for others who also somewhere want to know about lorem ipsum incase

From Wikipedia:

Lorem Ipsum commonly used to demonstrate the graphic elements of a document or visual presentation, such as font, typography, and layout. The lorem ipsum text is typically a section of a Latin text by Cicero with words altered.

Even though "lorem ipsum" may arouse curiosity because of its resemblance to classical Latin, it is not intended to have meaning. Where text is comprehensible in a document, people tend to focus on the textual content rather than upon overall presentation, so publishers use lorem ipsum when displaying a typeface or design elements and page layout in order to direct the focus to the publication style and not the meaning of the text In spite of its basis in Latin, use of lorem ipsum is often referred to as greeking, from the phrase "it's all Greek to me" which indicates that this is not meant to be readable text.

enter image description here

a very detailed example from designinformer about how lorem ipsum is killing our design.

Now Answer to your question :

My List for Dummy Text :

i don't know about experts because i am still struggling to be, there are some random text generator which i mostly use

  • I know mate,but i felt somewhere somehow someone want to know about such fact so he can read this answer rather than searching all over,Sorry if you dint like the way i neglect you HISTORY word :|
    – Jack
    May 22, 2011 at 9:09
  • I appreciate the post, I learned something :]
    – Hanna
    May 22, 2011 at 9:44
  • Very good answer, thanks. My earlier comment was out of line, I apologize. Your link is great. I think they have the right answer which is you shouldn't even need dummy text because content comes before design.
    – Chris_O
    May 25, 2011 at 9:35
  • apologize taken :P anyways "people tend to focus on the textual content rather than upon overall presentation, so publishers use lorem ipsum when displaying a typeface or design elements and page layout in order to direct the focus to the publication style and not the meaning of the text" i also want to say the same thing which is stated in that content comes before link i guess up to some extent i cant write well :|
    – Jack
    May 25, 2011 at 10:15
  • i am happy that you got your answer at least....
    – Jack
    May 25, 2011 at 10:17

I'm no expert, but my experience with Lorum Ipsum is that my intended audience (usually product stakeholders and developers) finds it distracting. You want them to focus on layout, spacing, and typographic stuff, but instead they keep trying to figure out how to translate or decode it.

I've had better luck using the first few paragraphs of Moby Dick. Everybody immediately recognizes it, understands without being told that it is just placeholder text, and (most important) they don't want to read it.

  • 1
    The problem with lorem ipsum is that it doesn't accurately reflect English-language word lengths, so for sizing purposes, when you don't have the real copy yet, it can add to the copyfitting chore at the end of the project. Moby Dick is good. Alice In Wonderland or, even better, Ladle Rat Rotten Hut (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladle_Rat_Rotten_Hut). May 23, 2011 at 2:57
  • 1
    My philosophy is "whatever works," but one issue I have with actual English text is that it must be read to determine if it is FPO or not. It may seem obvious to you that Moby Dick does not belong, but you are presuming you did not leave a few lines scattered about when you went back and replaced it with production copy.
    – horatio
    May 24, 2011 at 15:14
  • That's very true. I didn't want to read Moby-Dick when I was supposed to read it for class. I sure as hell won't read it as dummy copy. Dec 2, 2013 at 22:09
  • I once decided to demonstrate a small-screen text-rendering engine using the start of Dickens' "A tale of two cities". I was somewhat amused to discover that a single sentence was sufficient to fill the screen.
    – supercat
    Aug 31, 2018 at 15:43

[Late edit, because I just realized none of us answered one of the key questions: "Why do we use it?"]

Lorem ipsum and its alternatives are used for two reasons. The first is visual: we want to set up the text styles but don't have the real text available yet, or we want to show the client (or the art director) a mock-up. The second is practical: dummy text can be used to fill copy space in a layout. If it reflects the word lengths of the eventual copy (normal English writing, academic writing and text intended for younger readers would all have different characters-per-word and words-per-sentence averages), it lets copy writers know what their target word count should be.

In InDesign, specifically, you can replace the default dummy text (which is decent, but doesn't reflect contemporary writing rhythms well) with anything you like. You can, for example, grab a book from Project Gutenberg and use its text.

To create your own custom dummy text, save your choice of text in a file called "placeholder.txt" and copy it to the InDesign application folder. Every time you use Type > Fill With Placeholder Text thereafter, the content of your custom file will be used instead of ID's defaults.

  • great tip about the placeholder text!
    – Hemi
    May 25, 2011 at 12:00

As discussed here, it depends on the client. Some get so caught up in the content (change this headline! I don't like this photo! We don't do charts that way!) that they can't see the design they're supposed to be giving feedback about. Others want real examples so they can judge the layout more accurately. In addition to Lorem Ipsum, I often put placeholder content in magenta, because nobody colors anything magenta, and it's very easy to say to the client "anything in pink is dummy copy." Then you can use real copy, but they'll ignore it as they should.

  • 1
    I like the pink copy idea. Next time I'm working up a layout before the copy is ready, I'll have to give it a whirl. This is the kind of situation where Paragraph Styles are essential. (Actually, tehy are always essential, but this makes for a neat one-click flip from dummy to real.) May 23, 2011 at 2:42
  • Magenta is great. I do a lot of cyclical work (updating the same fact sheet every month or quarter) and if I dupe the previous one and color everything magenta until new copy comes in, I know exactly what I have and haven't updated without having to do any research. May 23, 2011 at 12:37
  • 1
    I usually set up my documents with a default "Normal" style of 100% cyan, so I can tell at a glance at any zoom scale, any untreated text.
    – horatio
    May 24, 2011 at 15:10

No shortage of good answers here, but I'd like to defend the proper use of Lorem Ipsum.

  1. Firstly, Lorem Ipsum is just a placeholder or stop gap substitute for content. That is, it should only be used if you don't have real content to use. As many of the Lorem-Ipsum-critical articles point to, content is just as critical a component of a design as anything else. However the final content is not always available.

    One reason to use Lorem Ipsum is that it allows you to move ahead with a design before a single word of content has been created. This is the same as using placeholder images in your design. Just because the real content isn't ready yet doesn't mean you can't begin your design.

  2. Another reason why Lorem Ipsum is popular is precisely because it looks like real language at first glance, but it clearly isn't. Some people here are suggesting using text from books or other websites, but these all have downsides without providing any benefits. Fist off, there are copyright issues to copying other people's articles and reproducing them in mockups you intend to distribute. Secondly, when using real text, you're more likely to accidentally allow the placeholder text to slip into the production version of the layout without being replaced.

  3. Additionally, Lorem Ipsum generators are really convenient. You can generate texts of any length and be assured that it doesn't contain any potentially offensive or otherwise distracting content. Because it's not real text, you can also easily modify it (trimming, repeating, punctuating, grouping, etc.) to suit your needs without worrying about grammar/syntax.

So, if you have the actual content, then sure use it. Don't go out of your way to replace it with Lorem Ipsum. However, in many cases you won't have the actual content to work with (e.g. designing a template that will be used for many different pages/articles or for dynamic content, such as search results), in which case any text you use will still be a placeholder and any sample text that has a normal distribution of letters/word lengths/punctuation/etc. will be equally effective.

Wrong ways to use Lorem Ipsum include:

  1. Repeating the same sentence or phrase over and over again. This defeats the purpose of using Lorem Ipsum. Instead, use a generator to generate the content length you need.
  2. Using Lorem Ipsum for logo design or other projects where typographic details are a crucial element and Lorem Ipsum won't display the letter forms that will be in the final product.
  3. Using Lorem Ipsum for projects in a language not based on the latin alphabet.
  4. And, as mentioned earlier, using Lorem Ipsum when you can use the real content instead.

IMO, the better way is to use the actual text that will be used in the final design. That text is an integral part of the design and it shouldn't be abstracted away. What may work with dummy text may not work with the actual text. If your copy is an afterthought to your design, you're not going to be as effective.

  • 3
    That's true only in situations where there's very little copy. In most use cases, it's more accurate to say that the appearance of the text is an integral part of the design. Typographic color (of body copy) is a major design element for any text-intensive project, and it is quite independent of the actual text used. The problem comes in when you're working up the layout while the copy is still being created, and (other than a headline or two, perhaps) you don't have the real text. May 23, 2011 at 2:48
  • It depends on what you are designing, but I agree, MOST of the time, USE THE ACTUAL CONTENT.
    – DA01
    Feb 15, 2012 at 3:03

I often use texts from a previous work (for the same client of course!).

I use Lorem Ipsum only if I have no text at all. And when I use it, I try to establish with my client aproximatly how many words there's gonna be in the text area. There's nothing more annoying than having to much or not enough space for the final text.

  • 1
    Using text from a previous job for the same client seems likely to cause confusion?
    – e100
    May 23, 2011 at 15:45
  • Well, if I have two clients who are competitors (two real estate agents, two financial firms), I wouldn't want to end up accidentally using Client A's text in Client B's layout. That could get ugly. At least if you're using last quarter's text or the Aggressive Gold Fund copy in the Passive-Aggressive Silver Fund layout, it's still in the family, so to speak. May 23, 2011 at 20:24
  • Well I'm doing it right know in a poster. With the client we agreed tu use last years text since he doesn't have the right text for this years poster... I mean, the client must know your using texts from a previous project.
    – Annie
    May 28, 2011 at 3:25

I always put in a rough example of text that would go there. So if it's say an article page then copy and paste some content from a BBC article just so similar text will fill the space.


The reason designers use lorem ipsum is because the text accurately mimics the look and characteristics of latin alphabet languages, without distracting from the design elements.

This makes it perfect for Graphic Designers to use as dummy text in design mockups.

In other words, the beauty of lorem ipsum text is that it has the appearance of English (and other Latin alphabet languages) in print and digital design mockups and yet it doesn't distract the user from the design.

There are a range of alternatives out there (easily found in a google search) but the point is, if you use something that has some meaning, it will be a distraction.

Ultimately it depends on your objective. You might want to augment the design or wireframes by using something that makes sense to the reader. Generally though, at the design stage, you want feedback on the design, not the content. And if you use some other placeholder text that is too distracting, you might end up getting feedback on the text, not the design.

Latin text is a good placeholder because most people don't read or understand latin, and yet it looks more or less similar to English or other latin alphabet languages. It all depends on your objective, and so maybe for a niche audience you would chose to use something appropriate (e.g. if you are building a website for a cheese shop, you could use this cheese lorem ipsum placeholder text: https://www.loremipsumtime.com/cheese-lorem-ipsum/), but if you are designing something more serious, the original lorem ipsum placeholder is probably a safer option.

There are some people who don't like lorem ipsum (usually copywriters as opposed to designers and clients). However, I'd say that it has probably survived as the go to for filler text for over 5 centuries for a reason.

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