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Initially I was referring to rem instead of em.

No, I understand. The main (only?) difference between em and rem is which element they are sized relative to: em to its parent element; rem to the root element.

making conversions easier and more consistent with the standard font sizing used in design applications.

What “design applications”? Converting between units is one thing; making good use of those units in your design is completely different. The two concepts don’t overlap much.

Perhaps it would be helpful to know your objectives. Is there a particular problem you’re trying to solve? For example, if you’re trying to take something generated by a wysiwyg and magically turn it into a clean, modern, responsive design, sorry; it won’t happen.

According to my testing, they both seemed identical, but this article explains there are a few key differences.

Bear in mind, that article was published sometime in 2008.
Even the “update” was written almost 3½ years ago.

If you want to see some differences, try using em vs. % on something other than font size (element width/ height/ padding/ etc.).

thanks for the help guys!

no problem at all : )