Understanding the Definition of EM in Web Design

In the world of web design, understanding the different units of measurement is crucial. One of the most important units of measurement that designers need to be familiar with is EM. It is used to describe the size of a font in relation to the “parent” font used on a page. This may seem like a complicated concept, but understanding EM is essential for creating well-designed and consistent websites.

EM is a unit of measurement that is based on the width of the letter M in a given font. When a font is set to 1em, it means that the font size will be equal to the font size of its parent element. For example, if the parent element has a font size of 16px, then a font set at 1em will also be 16px.


The advantage of using EM is that it makes it easy to scale font sizes up or down without having to manually adjust each font size on a page. This is especially useful for responsive web design, where the size of elements need to change depending on the screen size of the device being used.

To understand how to use, it is important to understand another unit of measurement in web design, which is pixels (px). Pixels are absolute units of measurement, meaning that they do not change even when the screen size changes. EM, on the other hand, is a relative unit of measurement that scales with the size of the parent element.

For example, if you set the font size of a paragraph to 16px and the font size of a heading to 2em, the heading will have a font size of 32px. This is because the parent element (paragraph) has a font size of 16px, so 2em is equivalent to 32px.

It is important to note that EM is not just used for font sizes, but can also be used for other properties such as padding, margin, and line-height. By using EM for these properties, you can create a consistent look and feel throughout your website without having to manually adjust each property for each element.


In conclusion, understanding the definition of EM is essential for every web designer. EM allows designers to easily scale font sizes up or down, which is particularly useful for responsive web design. By understanding how EM works in conjunction with pixels, designers can create consistent and visually appealing websites that look great on any device. So the next time you hear someone talking about EM in web design, you will know exactly what they mean!

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