The origins of placeholder text lorem ipsum

16th century printing and Marcus Tullius Cicero a bust of

What do a 16th century printer and a 1st century roman statesman have in common?

The answer is placeholder text lorem ipsum.

The original passage of text appears within ‘The Extremes of Good and Evil’, written in 45 BC by Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman statesman and orator.

Here’s a small piece translated:

“Nor is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure.”

Not what you’d call a page-turner by today’s standards.

An unknown printer first used it in the 1500s, scrambling some latin words to create a passage of placeholder text. It survived the hot metal printing era, sailed through the Letterpress heyday and captured the zeitgeist in the heyday of Letraset in the 1960s. Eventually it leapt confidently into today’s electronic typesetting, remaining largely unchanged over 5 centuries.

You can find it at the click of a button in Microsoft Word, Adobe design software, Google Docs and WordPress.

Not bad going for a piece of text from 45 BC.

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