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December 30, 2008

It's all Greek Text to me

The proximate cause for this post is the introduction of a new website, Lorem 2.0. This site delivers placeholder text in a variety of formats - paragraphs/ lists, short/ long, English/ Spanish. To a geek it's pretty cool.

Lorem Ipsum is the best-known example of "Greek Text", which is used to fill out design compositions with unrecognizable and non-offensive text copy. You'd use greek text, for instance, if you were working on a newsletter design. It's placeholder text that also approximates the number of spaces and word lengths seen in contemporary English.

Greek texting is used because (in a layout exercise) the presence of actual sentences distracts the observer from the layout. The brain and eye yearn to make sense of the text, so designers use sentences in another language that the observer cannot focus on. Standard filler text is provided to prevent ne'er-do-wells from inserting clever ditties about their friends, former lovers and managers into a document that ends up on the executive's desk. The standard Lorem text is here, along with a history of Greek text.

There are alternatives, but they are generally more of an amusement than something you'd actually present to a client. The Greek Machine will deliver a variety of alternative Greek text listings, including (for instance) Hillbilly GreekText:
Promenade cowpoke dumb rustle plumb, highway, redblooded, ails tobaccee, has, tonic buy. Plug-nickel caboodle hoosegow caught hobo grandpa aunt. Go hauled hillbilly beer hollarin', cow truck.

Ain't shed uncle, hillbilly skanky wild. Mule gritts catfish, drinkin' heapin' fer.

Ever weren't beer rottgut chitlins tornado maw good saw.

Butt, barefoot gonna tornado, whomp salesmen. Chitlins right salesmen pappy everlastin' round-up gonna barn no liniment skinned dumb, grandpa.
So creative people use Lorem text to fill out a design, you send it to the Boss for review, and sometimes the Boss jumps the gun and sends the mockup to the printers asking for overnight processing. This could easily happen on a time-critical project where the boss likes the design and the designer called in sick that day. You end up with a lot of brochures or webpages in front of the public with Lorem text embedded in the columns, and of course it can't be the Boss' fault so the designer takes the hit. Examples: here, here, or here. (via Jim Heid).

Call for Entries: Pittsburgh Greek Text

Please feel free to submit your composition of Pittsburgh-ese Greek Text. Please enter your submission as a Comment below.

Similar faux pas happen in the world of graphic (rather than text) layout, where the designer wants to use a stock image in the layout. Rather than buy the stock photo and risk the boss not approving it, the designer downloads a low-rez sample of the stock photo containing the seller's watermark and uses the "dummy" picture in the layout. The routine is: when the boss/client approves the design, the designer purchases the high-rez photo and replaces the watermarked image. Inevitably, the piece gets into print or on the web with the watermarked photo, as we see in these actual photos and screenshots below:


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