Media Queries

This advice is temporary. When browsers support container queries these guidelines will change.

Optimizing media queries

What matters

  • Content — set MQs tailored to the content.
  • Readability — make it obvious what MQs do.
  • Maintainability — make MQs easy to change/remove.

What doesn’t matter

  • Number of total MQs.
  • Number of repeated MQs.
  • Number of unique MQs.

Media queries are not a performance bottleneck for the browser. Don’t pretend you need to fix this.

Breakpoints in a design system

Sometimes it makes sense to abstract breakpoint values

GravDept writes media queries for

  1. Adapt

Where to write media queries

Grouping all media queries at the end.

Grouping all rules into the same media query expression.

Grouping all media queries with the component they affect.


It doesn’t matter how many media queries a website uses. At all. Write as many as you need.

There is no

Choosing breakpoints

MQs in practice

Writing better media queries

1. Mobile first

The first media query is no media query. Ethan Marcotte

2. Use pixel units

Use pixel px units for simplicity and precision:

// Good
@media (min-width: 1000px) {}

// Bad
@media (min-width: 10cm) {}
@media (min-width: 100em) {}

Don’t use absolute units (cm, mm, in, pt, pc).

Don’t use relative units (em, rem). Circ a 2012, browser-level zooming was inconsistent and Cloud Four showed em-based media queries were more consistently than pixels. This problem has been fixed.

See #3 — Pixels guarantee precision when shielding breakpoints. Relative units will freqently have rounding errors.

3. Shield breakpoints

When min/max media queries share a boundary, make sure they are offset by one pixel:

// Good
@media (max-width: 999px) {}
@media (min-width: 1000px) {}

// Bad
@media (max-width: 1000px) {}
@media (min-width: 1000px) {}

This prevents both MQs from applying unexpectedly at the exact breakpoint.

4. Abstract boundaries to variables

Even better, create $bp-{context} variables to allow the breakpoint abstraction to changed everywhere at once.

@media (max-width: $bp-box - 1px) {}
@media (min-width: $bp-box) {}

A solid example

MQs in action with several good practices in use:

// ==============================================
// Box
// ==============================================

.box {
    padding: 10px;
    border: 1px solid $c-border;

// ----------------------------------------------

@media (max-width: 999px) {

    .box {}


// ----------------------------------------------

@media (min-width: 1000px) {

    .box {}