How to Add Greek Text in Adobe InDesign

By Tom Chmielewski

Greek text is a block of dummy copy that a page designer lays in to judge the overall appearance of a page or brochure before setting the true copy. It's useful to show Greek text to a client if you're looking for approval on the design alone. If you lay in the actual copy, no matter how often you advise the client that it stills needs to be edited, the client's focus will generally go to the words before you're ready for that phase of approval. Adobe's InDesign uses the alternate term "placeholder text" for its traditional version of Greek text.

Step 1

Create a text frame by using the Type tool, click and hold on one corner of the frame, and drag the cursor to create a rectangle frame for the text. Repeat to create additional text frames to hold story jumps on following pages.

Step 2

Use the Selection Tool to select the initial text frame, and then click on the small box outline on the frame's edge just above the right corner. The cursor changes to a tiny block of type and a chain link. Move the cursor over the second text frame, and click. This threads the story between the two frames. Thread as many frames as needed.

Step 3

Select the text frame that will begin the story, and then on the Type menu, select Fill With Placeholder Text. Each frame selected fills with the placeholder, or Greek, text.

Step 4

Adjust the font, size and paragraph styles as necessary in the text. If your adjustments shorten the copy, use the Type tool to place the cursor at the end of the text, and select Fill With Placeholder Text again to fill the remaining space.

Tips & Warnings

  • Greek text is actually Latin, and not all of the words are nonsense. The Greek text that famously begins with the words "lorem ipsum"--or at least famous among page designers--came into being in the 1500s when some unknown printer or printer's assistant took a galley of movable type and scrambled it to produce a type specimen folio. The type came from "The Extremes of Good and Evil" by Cicero, written in 45 B.C. Some of the lines remained intact, including the traditional first line. So why call it Greek text? Traditionally, the attribution goes to Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." When Cassius asks "Did Cicero say any thing?" the plainspoken Casca replied, "Ay, he spoke Greek ... those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but for mine own part, it was Greek to me."
  • When type becomes too small to read on a display screen, InDesign does what Adobe calls "greeking type," but in this instance, the type is replaced with a gray bar. Increasing the percentage of zoom brings the type back, as does printing the page.