# How to use CSS Line-Height

Quirks of using line-height in CSS

There are 4 ways to specify line height in CSS:

/* The number way*/
line-height: 1.5;

/* The em way*/
line-height: 1.5em;

/* The percentage way*/
line-height: 150%;

/* The pixel way*/
line-height: 24px;

In simple settings, they are pretty much interchangable. For example:

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
<meta charset="UTF-8"/>
<title>Document</title>
<style>
p {
font-size: 16px;
line-height: 1.5;
}
</style>
<body>
<p>I'm a paragraph.</p>
</body>
</html>

Here p can use all 4 ways and there would be no difference.

The way the browser calculate line-height is to convert it to pixels. And here is how:

• 24px -> 24px
• 1.5 -> 1.5 * 16px = 24px
• 1.5em -> 1.5 * 16px = 24px
• 150% -> 150% * 16px = 24px

As you can see, except for the direct px value, they are all relative to the font-size of p.

So can we use them freely as we wish?

And I would also say prefer to use the number way, because of the inheritance rule that we are going to examine next.

Let’s change the styles a little. Now we add styles for body, it has a bigger font-size. We also move the line-height from p to body.

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
<meta charset="UTF-8"/>
<title>Document</title>
<style>
body {
font-size: 24px;
line-height: 1.5;
}
p {
font-size: 16px;
}
</style>
<body>
<p>I'm a paragraph.</p>
</body>
</html>

What is the line-height for p in this case?

Since p is a child of body, p inherits the line-height value 1.5 from body, and use it to multiply its own font-size, so its line-height is 1.5 * 16 = 24px.

What if we use 1.5em?

Let’s try it in the browser and see what value we get.

It’s 36px!

Actually, it uses the font-size of the body to calculate the value: 24 * 1.5 = 36px.

And the same applies to the percentage way and em way.

In other words, when it comes to inheritance, the number way will pass only the number and applys it to the child’s font-size; on the other hand, the percentage way and em way will apply the line-height to the parent’s font-size and pass the calculated value to the child.

The result is that if you use the number way in body for example, no matter the font-size of its children elements, the line-height will scale evenly.