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  • # May 17, 2013 at 2:34 am

    Hey guys,

    I’m busy putting a new responsive site together and I’ve heard a lot of talk about shifting to EMs for media queries and layout.

    Can anybody give me a “Top 10” list of why this is a good/bad idea and any gotchas to look out for?



    # May 17, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Main benefit is the the em relationship between text size and breakpoints. If you zoom your browser in to increase the text size the breakpoints will move with it keeping the breakpoint decisions you initially made still relevant.

    # May 17, 2013 at 4:40 am

    This sums up the whole EM in MQ thing:

    # May 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Better off using REMs

    # May 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    For media queries em means the default font-size, unaffected by styling. So there would be no difference between em and rem (if rem even works).

    # May 18, 2013 at 3:14 am

    Never tried REM in a media query, it does work. However I am boycotting REM’s, not to mention I haven’t seen anyone else do it in media queries. ;x

    # May 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Why would you not use REMs?

    Support is good and they are easier to work with compared to EMs

    # May 19, 2013 at 12:11 am

    @Gareth I think this might be a good read for you:

    # May 20, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Y’know – this is what I love about the web at the moment – you lift one rock and there’s a whole playground of new stuff you never knew existed. For eg just discovered this: – WHO KNEW!? Well, everybody except me i guess! o_O

    Thanks for those links guys – made for some really good reading.

    I’m gonna have a play with REMs. The browser landscape here in South Africa is interesting as there is a greater need to support IE8 and below so fallbacks are going to be _really_ important if I go that route.

    @scottnix: that’s an interesting position you’re taking there – would you elaborate? This REM thing looks like a really good idea – why the vehement opposition?

    # May 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    My beef with REM’s is based on “I don’t have problems with EM inheritance issues the way I code”, I don’t like having to duplicate lines of CSS to have a fallback to a problem I don’t have.

    That said, it was pretty self gratifying to see this Tweet by Brad Frost a few days ago.

    “Late night converting rems back to ems. I tried, but the compatibility just isn’t there, and the fallbacks aren’t ideal.”

    # May 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    > “Late night converting rems back to ems. I tried, but the compatibility just isn’t there, and the fallbacks aren’t ideal.”

    That’s discouraging..I’m half way through the first site I chose to use rem’s over em’s.

    # September 17, 2013 at 8:16 am

    No need to use rem’s for media queries – the value em’s obtain is that of the user agent, and not from your styles:

    I’ve used em’s with the assumption that 1em ~= 16px in media queries for a while now. I discovered this after being baffled as to why my breakdpoints weren’t working, and eventually discovering that no matter what I had set my base font size to, media queries were consistently being calculated at +-16x the value of the em in the media query.

    Don’t worry about fallbacks – just use em’s for media queries, and use rems as you’d want everywhere else.

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