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Lorem Ipsum...

Almost half a millennium ago a printer scrambled a galley of type to produce the first pangram for a specimen book. The text was in Latin, of course, and so only 23 letters were required (Latin does not use J , V or W; however V is now used to represent the consonantal U, and sometimes J to represent consonantal I).

The phrase was rather nonsensical Latin. It is the most famous Latin pangram text and it is still used, in a remarkably little-altered form, by typographical designers:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit,
diam nonnumy eiusmod tempor incidunt ut labore et dolo...

In itself this makes little sense, but a little research reveals that it is composed from fragments of a passage in Cicero's De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (45BC):

Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum
quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit...

This means There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it, and wants to have it, simply because it is pain...

There are many, many versions of the lorem ipsum pangram sentence, and you are unlikely to come across any two which are identical. It has evolved slowly with use, through a combination of typing errors and deliberate – usually subtle – humorous additions. Some versions are no longer than the example given above, whilst others have been extended to several hundred words. Most importantly, especially when the text is used to demonstrate a font, the letters not found in the Latin alphabet have been added in too.

You may be beginning to wonder why it is necessary to use Latin, and nonsense Latin at that, in typographical design and font examples. There are a number of reasons why the lorem ipsum pangram text is used. Not only does it include every available letter, but it is represents a typical English sentence in terms of word length too, thus obtaining the same balance as real text. A further advantage is that, since this text conveys no meaning, a reader who is supposed to be scrutinising a page layout or font face (looking for formatting errors, etc.) does not get distracted by the subject of the text.

A longer sample:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ulliam corper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem veleum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel willum lunombro dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis dolore te feugait nulla facilisi.

Back to the main pangrams page. Click here for more on what a pangram is.

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