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Creating Non-English Placeholder Text

Everyone knows you can place the text cursor inside an empty text frame and choose Type > Fill with Placeholder Text. By default, you get some Latin text, reminiscent of “Lorum Ipsum.” And you might even know that you can customize the placeholder text with your own text.

But did you know you can hold down the Command/Ctrl key when you select Fill with Placeholder Text and get a dialog box asking what language you want to fill with? (This was new in CS6.)

Placeholder Text

When you choose a language and click OK, InDesign fills the frame with that language — changing the font to something suitable (something that contains those characters) along the way.

Nifty! But what if you want to combine these two tricks? You want to specify your own placeholder text and you want to do it in some other language? Well, a little birdy told me the trick: Create your own text file (no formatting), and save it in the UTF-16 encoding (that should be an option in your text editor) using one of the following names:

  • PlaceHolder_GR.txt (Greek)
  • PlaceHolder_CY.txt (Cyrillic)
  • PlaceHolder_AR.txt (Arabic),
  • PlaceHolder_HB.txt (Hebrew)

Unfortunately, this little birdy didn’t know the proper file names for Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. I’ve tried all the ones I can think of (JP, ja, etc.), but nothing works yet. If you can figure it out (assuming there is an answer, which there may not be), please let us know below!

Again, this placeholder text file needs to go into the Adobe InDesign application folder to work.

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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27 Comments on “Creating Non-English Placeholder Text

  1. Unfortunately, there appears to be good reason to believe that this feature supports only the default language (err, English always?), Greek, Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew. It doesn’t look like there is support for the other placeholder languages (i.e. Japanese, Korean, or either of the two Chineses).

    [ Hmm, in my investigations, is this an Obscure InDesign Feature: “Insert ideographic space”? Never noticed that… ]

  2. FWIW the Hebrew comes out backwards. i.e. final letters litter the beginning of words and in my small sample I did not find any final letters at the end of words. Not worth showing even in a sketch as it looks unprofessional.

    I wonder if Arabic shows the same way.

    However your idea of customizing the text may solve this problem.

    BTW, I’m using CS4; perhaps this is different in CS6.

  3. I saw where you said it was added in CS6, but I tried it anyway. And it came up with the Language Selection drop down menu. So I selected Hebrew and got what I got. Maybe it was only partially implemented in CS4 and then they solved the backwards thing by CS6.

    Did you try it yourself?

  4. @Bob: Yes, those are all possible (I believe) with the normal placeholder.txt file.

    @Joshua: Yes, I have tried it in CS4. The feature isn’t there. I can only assume your copy of CS4 is from the future. ;)

  5. The last time I was working on things in InDesign with Arabic text you could only use CS3 ME (Middle East) version as it supported right to left langauages, CS4 wouldn’t do it at the time – there was no ME version available if I recall correctly. If you put Arabic text in it would paste in left to right so all meaning was lost just like Joshua is saying about Hebrew.

    I think I saw something in the text frame options about right to left languages in CS6 so it’s probably working properly now.

  6. Q: <>

    Sorry, guys, it does not work for me. I’ve got Adobe Indesign CC and whenever I choose any other placeholder text language, the text is either a bunch of weird symbols, or just Roman (Lorum Ipsum). Thanks. Looking forward to finding a solution.


  7. Exactly! Weirdest thing!

    So I had to create a placeholder file to sort this out.

    David, would you know how to program for the text to be inserted randomly? For instance, with latin, if I clicked again and again, the text I got, was different each time. Now with the placeholder file InDesign just keeps bluntly filling in the first paragraph of the chapter I used for this task. As you could understand, it is incredibly time-consuming to have to continuously edit bits of text manually.
    Thanks for your help!

  8. One more thing: when I changed the coding of the file to UTF-16 to avoid the text being strung all together, I get the first phrase repeated in the paragraph of my text frame again and again. I checked the placeholder.txt file again, and it is in order. Why do I get this weirdest bugs? Anyone? Please, help to sort out! Thank you!

  9. An example of what I get in the app: Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had pAlice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had pAlice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had pAlice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing

    • Ah, I see the confusion. No, the placeholder.txt file never is randomized. InDesign just repeats the text in the file over and over again. It only knows how to randomize with the built-in placeholder text feature.

  10. Is there any way to scramble or replace existing text with placeholder text? I have possibly sensitive documents I want to show for portfolio on my site to show design, but if I could scramble the text, I wouldn’t be divulging sensitive client info (happens to be sales prep documents).

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  12. Strangely in my InDesign the ‘Command-Fill with Placeholder Text’ feature is not working, I just get the Lorum Ipsum text, The dialog box does not appear. I tried deleting the preferences, I even reinstalled InDesign, still nope. Does anybody have a clue what I could try to solve this issue?

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