Sample Text

Working in Microsoft Word, I often need some “junk” text to play around with, for various reasons:

* I’m designing a document and don’t want to get bogged down in what the text actually says.

* I’m creating a template with various paragraph styles and need to see what they will look like.

* I’m creating a macro and need some text for testing purposes.

* I’m trying to learn more about some feature of Microsoft Word and don’t want to practice on a real document.

Microsoft Word 97, 98, 2000, and 2001 include an undocumented feature that generates all of the sample text I need. Maybe you’ll find it helpful too. To use it, type the following line into a Word document and press the ENTER key:

=Rand(1,1)

Word will insert the following text into your document:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

(As you probably know, this sentence includes every letter in the alphabet and is sometimes used for typing practice.)

Need more than one sentence? You can specify how many sentences you need by changing the last number in the Rand statement. For example, if you needed five sentences, you could type this–

=Rand(1,5)

–which would produce this:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Need more than one paragraph? You can specify how many paragraphs you need by changing the first number in the Rand statement. For example, if you needed two paragraphs (with five sentences in each one), you could type this–

=Rand(2,5)

–which would produce this:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

In other words, the first number specifies the number of paragraphs you want to insert; the second number specifies the number of sentences you want to include in those paragraphs.

If you’re using Word 95 or lower (or if you’re tired of that quick brown fox), you can use the traditional Latin “Lorem ipsum dolor . . . ,” which has been used as placeholder text for centuries:

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.

If you’re curious about this, it’s a garbled quotation from Cicero’s De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (On the Ends of Good and Bad), book 1, paragraph 32, which reads, “Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci velit,” meaning, “There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain.” The book was popular during the Renaissance, when the passage was used in a book of type samples for that wonderful new technology, printing.

If your Latin is good enough (unlike mine), you can read Cicero’s complete text (or just get a whole bunch of great sample text) here:

http://patriot.net/~lillard/cp/cic.fin.html

If you want to see a beautiful collection of classic type samples, check out Giambattista Bodoni’s Typographic Manual at Octavo:

http://www.octavo.com/collection/bodtip.html

And for more information on sample text, see Jacci Howard Bear’s article at About.com:

http://www.desktoppub.about.com/compute/desktoppub/library/weekly/aa051199.htm

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