4 Dummy ENG


Every now and then, you stumble across an unfinished page or a template for, perhaps, a brochure, and you’re suddenly faced with Latin. Why is that?

The first answer is really simple: That’s so-called dummy or filler text. The placeholder helps when you’re putting together a lay-out, giving you a good idea how the finished piece will look. The contents don’t matter at all at this stage, and so designers often use nonsense texts. That’s particularly helpful for templates – the template creator obviously has no idea what the user will eventually put in. You can focus on the visual effect without getting distracted by the text.

Sure, you can use your own text for this but there are a couple of standards. These consist of words of different length, in sentences that vary just as much in length – all to create the impression of natural language.

And that brings us to our second answer, namely the Latin. The so-called “lorem ipsum” text is surely one of the most popular of its kind. On the Internet, you can find a couple of generators providing you with the right version for your needs. Lorem ipsum is derived from a text by the Ancient Roman writer Cicero, although there’s little left from the original. Several words have been left out, added, changed – enough to drive a Latin speaker crazy reading it… But, after all, it’s not supposed to make sense but only imitate language.

As an example, I took a lorem ipsum from Wikipedia:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Dolor sed viverra ipsum nunc aliquet bibendum enim. In massa tempor nec feugiat. Nunc aliquet bibendum enim facilisis gravida.

Also of interest for designing web pages or print materials are pangrams. These are sentences using all letters of the alphabet in ways that make more or less sense. When looking at a font, for instance, you can right away see how the various letters are displayed and whether you like that. A pangram in English for instance is the ever popular “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” You might encounter this sentence often when looking for fonts. Other languages can have a more difficult time of finding pangrams of their own as they use special characters. In German, for example, there are the Umlauts ä, ö and ü. Accordingly, “Zwölf Boxkämpfer jagen Viktor quer über den großen Sylter Deich” is a pangram in German, with the intriguing translation: “Twelve boxers are chasing Viktor across the great dike of Sylt.” Take that for incomprehension, brown fox!