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Home Forums Other Which font sizing is best? EM vs PX vs %

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    It all depends on what you want to achieve. I think we miss the whole point of designing for the web when we adopt a “one size fit’s all” approach. However, if you are like me, working to achieve elegant user experiences with responsive web design (I actually do care about device resolutions and such) while at the same time attempting to remain loyal to the graphic design principles that were drilled into me at school, here is a Goldilocks approach:


    I use PX because it’s easier. However, for stuff where I don’t need to worry about legacy stuff (IE8 and lower) I’m starting to use REM’s as they offer a lot of flexibility without the downside of EM’s.

    However, if I do need semi-legacy support, I go with PX. Why? It’s easier. A lot easier than EM’s. Yes, you can get used to EM’s and make them work but, let’s be honest, there’s extra hassle.


    Wow, I can’t believe so many people are so biased towards em.

    Now with rem, it’s no different than px.

    If you set it to:

    html {

    It’s exactly the same, but you move the decimal one place to the left, 12px = 1.2em.
    With rem, you don’t have to worry about context vs target relationship, but still get the advantages of em. Use some media queries and it’s like zooming in and out on photoshop. Your designs will scale with ease, otherwise you’d have to write a media query that re-establishes every class/element/id that you specified a font-size in px with to achieve the same result. What sounds more logical?

    Just build your site out with px, then go through and convert it to rem/em.
    Same with percentages. Figure out your target/context relationships and it will be scalable all of a sudden.

    The whole beef with this is simply ignorance or the unwillingness to do something in a different way than you are used to.

    I’m just getting into it myself, but fundamentally, it makes sense with the variance in viewing sizes nowadays.

    As someone that develops as well as designs, I’m constantly getting hit with new ways to do stuff… OOP vs. procedural, new “hipper” languages, etc., so having to start from square one happens a lot.
    Whereas, as a designer you can get stuck in your groove and the world will blow past you.

    Responsive design is the way things will be from now on, so get used to it and be smart and learn it as soon as possible. Otherwise, someone possibly a decade younger than you will snatch your job/contracts from you and you’ll be eating fish heads and rice.


    I didn’t read all comments but too answer in general: relative size of content is only relevant for future. So drop your Pixels and adapt Ems. You just can’t design app or website that will look great ok 4k tv and 500px mobile phone. Zooming is fine but absurd. Who wish to see squared text on 4k tv? Why most of sites still use px? Well of course those sites were made some time ago or company that made site still didn’t switched on new “technology”. But go take a look at known web designers sites you’ll see just responsiveness.

    Take a look at this video.

    Designing for screen was under influence of print design, this is now changing in good way. Content is important not a shiny button you wish to shine exactly on all devices as it shines on yours.


    Personally I like how em’s behave within percentage based layout frameworks, and if you couple that with em based media queries you can set your breakpoints based on your content instead of chasing different devices view port size.


    I always use em’s for text, unless said text is in a container with a pixel height/width. I just like things to be scalable.

    Working with em’s isn’t that difficult once you understand how they work.

    That said, I still use pixels for things like margins/padding.

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