iA


When Lorem Ipsum Doesn’t Work.

by Sky Sister Studio. Average Reading Time: about 5 minutes.

Lorem Ipsum is dummy text originally created by the printing & typesetting industry. It has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. But is it losing its effectiveness? Probably. Take a look at the history of filler text, the role it plays now, and exciting alternatives for your next planning session.

Lorem ipsum survived typesetting’s overall evolution from manual to digital; it was popularized in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing these faux text passages.

Although Letraset is a company based in the UK, the name Letraset was often used to refer generically to sheets of dry transferrable lettering of any brand. This technique was very widespread for lettering and other elements before the advent of the computer techniques of word processing and desktop publishing.

When artwork was prepared by hand, Letraset sheets were available with letters in a large range of typefaces, styles, sizes, symbols, and other graphic elements. The letters could be transferred one by one to artwork being prepared. This was always a tedious job, but the alternative, to do the lettering by hand, was even more tedious and required graphic artist skills.

…Fast Forward to Now.

In today’s digital age, layout planning often requires significant levels of detail in short amounts of time. Faux text generators have emerged to meet this demand: anyone can copy/paste a sentence or many paragraphs of this pretend text.

 

meet-the-ipsums

Meet the Ipsums is a fun site with a clean layout. It aims to list all of the available generators online, and with listings like “corporate ipsum, alien ipsum, and batman ipsum” – your project planning is bound to be more fun. Other popular generators are listed in the table below:

Lorem Ipsum Sites

StandardSillyMulti LanguageCoding
LoripsumCupcake IpsumBlind Text GeneratorHTML Ipsum
Lorem Ipsum GeneratorBacon IpsumProfessional Ipsum GeneratorJ-HTML Ipsum
Hipster IpsumAdhesion Text
Veggie IpsumLazar Ipsum
Tuna Ipsum
Beer Ipsum
Liquor Ipsum

The Problem: Lorem Ipsum doesn’t always work anymore.

Design adds to (and many times facilitates) the experience that helps visitors read or locate wanted information, understand information, make a decision, or accomplish a task. Using Lorem Ipsum into mock-ups can cause unintended side effects:

  1. Lorem Ipsum can be distracting/confusing to some people in a decision-making capacity, leading them to ask questions on why the draft has strange or incorrect text.
  2. It has often created confusion between the designer, developer and the copywriter or content provider.
  3. It even gets pushed live sometimes without anyone noticing.

What is the Solution?

There are 2 schools of though on this. I think they are both correct in that they depend highly on who is viewing the progress of the project.

Solution One: Insert meaningful content instead of lorem ipsum.

Extreme views include demanding all text content be completed and available before starting any project. But in reality this isn’t likely in many cases. The alternative is to use some sort of meaningful text in order to have a more accurate sense of placement, spacing, etc. than Lorem Ipsum provides.

Fillerati

fillerati-graphic

While dummy text is convenient, it has one major problem: it changes the way copy is viewed. Real text often looks completely different than Lorem Ipsum: so what will paragraphs actually look like? How will tables and image captions fit? Real text is needed to see what your final project will really look like. Fillerati seeks to give you a more accurate sense of what your final layout will look like by providing real text from classical books.

By not having the imagination to imagine what the content “might” be, a design consideration is lost. Meaning becomes obfuscated because “it’s just text”, understandability gets compromised because nobody realized that this text stuff was actually meant to be read. Opportunities get lost because the lorem ipsum garbage that you used instead of real content didn’t suggest opportunities. The text then gets made really small, because, it’s not meant to be used, we might as well create loads of that lovely white space. —Tom Smith, designer and developer (from I hate Lorem Ipsum and Lorem Ipsum Users)

Solution Two: Insert the shape of the text in order to focus on the design.

Sometimes, Solution One is not a reality. We simply don’t have the real content (it is not yet available), and using text from publications may confuse the Client as much as Lorem Ipsum might. Yet we need to get a sense of the layout before the actual text is available.  We can simply “block out” any text for simple mockups: a simple way to suggest where type will go is all that’s needed.

The overall term for this is called “Greeking” – a style of displaying or rendering text or symbols, not always from the Greek alphabet. Greeking obscures portions of a work for the purpose of either emphasizing form over details or displaying placeholders for unavailable content. The name is a reference to the phrase “Greek to me“, meaning something that one cannot understand, so that it might as well be in a foreign language.

Greeked Text Plugin

This Adobe Fireworks extension allows designers to create a rough looking text placeholder. The extension works with the help of auto shapes and generates random line lengths of the text for a particular area. The size of the leading (or line spacing) and line height can be controlled easily as well. When rotating the text block by 90 degrees, it is also possible to use it for a quick graph like looking symbol.

GreekedText_bw_v2

Skribble Greeking Font

Created for replacing real text to greeked text without having to use Lorem Ipsum, it is intentionally sloppy to keep you from looking at real words in your wireframes while serving the purpose as a placeholder.

skribble-greeking-font

BLOKK Font

A font made up of dashes (almost like what you’d find in a cartoon newspaper) for quick mock-ups and wireframing.

blokk-font_v2

Redacted Font

Redacted is a great open source font wit the goal of “keeping your wireframes free of distracting Lorem Ipsum dummy text.” It comes in multiple styles including: Redacted RegularRedacted Script, and Redacted Script BoldChristian, Redacted’s author, notes that the font has variations similar to and inspired by BLOKK font.

redacted-option

Summary

Whatever the approach, wireframing is an important part of any design project. These recent tools might make your objective of mapping out a design simpler and more enjoyable – whether you have a design role, work as a team member, or as a project manager. Simply being able to focus on the layout without worrying about full content can streamline the process.

Sources

"When Letraset Was King." by Creative Pro
"Letraset." by Wikipedia
"Greeked Text." by Wireframes Magazine