Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Lorem Ipsum Dolor

I was perusing through some of the ‘other‘ chapters of Vincent Flanders new book looking for a specific quote when I ran across Vincent’s comments regarding the erroneous use of that long-tested test phrase ‘Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.’ According to Norman Walsh’s comp.fonts FAQ, the etymology for this phrase is a jumble from Cicero’s ‘de Finibus‘ that roughtly translates:

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

Obviously Cicero never ran into some of the dysfunctional characters that frequent Oprah, Jerry Springer and other toxic by-products of 20th century post-modernism/humanism. But I digress.

The point is, this almost-Latin phrase is recorded to have first appeared in the 16th century in a book of fonts. The thought being that if the text was nonsensical, then the person viewing the book would focus on the type of type and not what was typed on or not-typed between the lines. Of the same intent, several 21st century word processors and web page editors also serve up ‘Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet‘ as sample text.

This in and of itself is not a problem – in fact, used as originally intended some 500+ years ago, it is still a reasonable if not a useful practice. Where the problem lies is those instances where web servants fail to test and/or proof read ALL of their new pages before posting them into production. The most conpicious issue being what goes on between their <title> tags. Point in case:

the Biltmore United Methodist Church of Asheville, NC; USA

The link above opens a new window, and in this new window, you should notice right away that the <title> tag of this page does not include the name, denomination and location of the church – which EVERY church web site should include. Instead, the web servant here makes it very hard for users to bookmark their page, and especially impossible for search engines to accurately index, and subsequently find, Biltmore’s site. Of course the site exampled goes one step further in obfuscating their identity, not just with Latinizing their title, but by using an ‘unindexable‘ graphic to declare the church’s name and location – as opposed to very ‘indexable‘ <h[1..6]> tags!

All of which explains why Google (who still hasn’t cached my site correctly) lists the site 23rd instead of 1st even when I enter the very specific search phrase ‘biltmore united methodist church asheville.’ It gets worse, as the title offered by the search engine is ‘Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet‘ – a sure way to get overlooked by any and all who aren’t either converted Catholic, or some other champion the old school vernacular.

DON’T DO THIS! – get someone to proof read your pages, and check those title tags.


  1. I found the same thing in some Novell pages a few years ago: the template that Novell used included sample text: three Latin quotations (one Biblical, one classical, one medieval, I think). These might be commented out, but the “Show web page as text” or “Format for printing” processor Novell used would render them anyway.

  2. Did you see the comment in WPTS daily sucker “Deep White” that rephrased their marketing copy as greek text? I thought it was hysterical.

  3. I wouldn’t say that it’s fair to lay the blame for poor proof reading at the feet of Latin-feel layout text, although I agree it can highlight the point. Of all the things you can do wrong on a website, failing to proofread has to be the worst. (I know I’m guilty of this too). Not everyone has the design skills or technical skills to make a great site, but you can always make sure your content is accurate.