Greek History.

This post has nothing to do with the city states of Sparta, Athens or Argos. Nor does it review any mythology or empire rule. Instead it’s a review of what greeking is in the design/typographic field.

Greeking is a style of displaying or rendering text or symbols – not from the Greek alphabet –  used for the purpose of evaluating a certain typeface’s appropriateness, overall style or type color (more on that in this blog) or for displaying text as placeholders for unavailable content.

As a designer I’m constantly presenting layouts and designs to clients for creative approval, and  because a viewer can be distracted by meaningful content and miss the creative intent of a given project, unrecognizable “gibberish” is used instead of something “readable”. On many occasions I will insert actual text that is relevant to the project – that being a sentence or two of the copy thrust or theme of the piece being presented. However, the bulk of the placeholder text is “greek”. And the reason it should be gibberish is that it forces the viewer to focus on the layout and design rather than any words or phrases that may have meaning unrelated to the actual project at hand. The phrase 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.

What’s the deal with lorem ipsum . . .?

If you’re a designer or have been on the reviewing side of a creative presentation you know what I’m referring to.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“Lorem ipsum” is simply dummy text that 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. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged.

Contrary to popular belief, lorem ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Lorem ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance.

The first line “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..” comes from a line in section 1.10.32, however, with words altered, added and removed over the centuries the complete block of text has become somewhat nonsensical in meaning and not proper Latin. A close English translation of the words lorem ipsum might be “pain itself” (dolorem = pain, grief, misery, suffering; ipsum = itself) and a rough translation of the block might be: “There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain…”

Although this post has nothing to do with the Acropolis, perhaps I’ve enlightened you a bit about another type of greek history here.

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About Ray Bauer

I am an independent designer and marketer operating my own enterprise, rBAUERdesign, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I have an understanding of, and dedication to, the design and marketing process of firms in need of communication solutions. I bring my design, layout, creative and art direction experience and knowledge as well as applied and tested marketing applications from the advertising agencies and marketing firms I've worked at for over 25 years to every job I touch.
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