Maintaining Aspect Ratio in CSS

One common problem I face is, maintaining the aspect ratio of a block-level element. Say you have something like a photo gallery, and you want all the items to retain the same aspect ratio within fluid-width columns; a common responsive web design layout problem.

The answer is mind-numbingly simple and I’m blogging it this evening for posterity and in an attemp to help any one else who may have this issue.

I can’t take all the credit, as the technique was taken from the fantastic Zurb Foundation’s “flex-video” component.

Say you have mark-up like the following:

<div class="albums">
  <div class="album">
    <a class="album-cover" href="#">
      <img src="//" alt="Album Title" />

The CSS is simple: set the height to zero and apply padding-bottom. The value you use for the padding-bottom depends on the aspect ratio you’re going for. In my case, I wanted an aspect ratio of 16:9 so to calculate the padding-bottom value you do the simple calculation of:

(9 ÷ 16) × 100 = 56.25

This means our padding-bottom should be 56.25%. In our CSS:

.album-cover {
    display: block;
    height: 0;
    padding-bottom: 56.25%;
    overflow: hidden;

And voilà, you should find that your album cover retains its aspect ratio if within a fluid-width container and resizing your viewport. Hope this helps some one!