CSS Media Types

CSS media types allow you to format your documents so that they look well on a variety of devices, including screens, printers, and audio browsers.

Introduction to Media Types

One of the key advantages of style sheets is the ability to define separate styles for different media types. This feature is particularly useful when creating printer-friendly web pages, as you can assign a distinct style sheet specifically for the "print" media type.

Certain CSS properties are designed exclusively for specific media types. For instance, the page-break-after property only applies to paged media. However, there are several properties that can be shared across different media types but may require different values. An example is the font-size property, which can be used for both screen and print media, but with potentially different values.

When designing a document, it's common to require a larger font size for better readability on a computer screen compared to paper. Additionally, sans-serif fonts are often favored for screen viewing, while serif fonts are commonly used for printing. Therefore, it becomes necessary to specify that a style sheet or a set of style rules is intended for specific media types.

Creating Media Dependent Style Sheets

There are three commonly used methods to indicate the media dependencies for style sheets:

  • Using the @media At-rules
  • Using the @import At-rules
  • Using the <link> element

Method 1: Using the @media At-rules

The @media rule is utilized to define distinct style rules for different media types within a single style sheet. It is typically followed by a list of comma-separated media types and a CSS declaration block containing the style rules for the targeted media.

In the example below, the style declaration instructs the browser to display the body content in 14 pixels Arial font on the screen, but in a 12-point Times font for printing. However, the line-height property is set to 1.2 for both media types:

@media screen{
    body {
        color: purple;
		font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
        font-size: 14px;
@media print {
    body {
        color: #ff6347;
		font-family: Times, serif;
        font-size: 12pt;
@media screen, print {
    body {
        line-height: 1.2;

Note: Style rules that exist outside of@media rules apply to all media types covered by the style sheet. At-rules within @media are not valid in CSS2.1.

Method 2: Using the @import At-rules

Another approach to define style information for specific target media is through the @import rule. It involves specifying the comma-separated media types after the URL of the imported style sheets.

@import url("screen.css") screen;
@import url("print.css") print;
body {
    line-height: 1.2;

In the @import statement below, the print media type instructs the browser to load an external style sheet (print.css) and apply its styles exclusively for print media.

Note: All @importstatements must be placed at the beginning of a style sheet, preceding any declarations. Any style rule specified within the style sheet itself will override conflicting style rules in the imported style sheets.

Method 3: Using the link element

The media attribute on the <link> element is used to specify the target media for an external style sheet within the HTML document.

<link rel="stylesheet" media="all" href="common.css">
<link rel="stylesheet" media="screen" href="screen.css">
<link rel="stylesheet" media="print" href="print.css">

In the example provided, the media attribute directs the browser to load an external style sheet called "screen.css" and use its styles only for screen display, while "print.css" is intended for printing purposes.

Tip: You can also specify multiple media types (separated by commas, e.g., media="screen, print") as well as media queries for the <link>element.

Different Media Types

The table below lists various media types that can be employed to target different types of devices, such as printers, handheld devices, and computer screens.

  • all: Applicable to all types of media devices.
  • aural: Intended for speech and sound synthesizers.
  • braille: Designed for braille tactile feedback devices.
  • embossed: Suitable for paged braille printers.
  • handheld: Specifically for small or handheld devices, such as mobile phones or PDAs with small screens.
  • print: Specifically for printers.
  • projection: Geared towards projected presentations, such as projectors.
  • screen: Primarily for color computer screens.
  • tty: Intended for media that utilize a fixed-pitch character grid, such as teletypes, terminals, or devices with limited display capabilities.
  • tv: Designed for television-type devices, featuring low resolution, color screens with limited scrollability and available sound.

Tip: Although there are several media types to choose from, it's important to note that most browsers only fully support the "all,screen, and print media types.


What is the significance of CSS Media Types in web development?

CSS Media Types are essential for tailoring styles to specific devices or media. They enable developers to optimize web content for various viewing conditions and devices, ensuring a consistent and responsive user experience.

What are the primary CSS Media Types, and how are they used?

The three primary CSS Media Types are:

  • screen: Designed for screens like desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It's the default for most stylesheets.
  • print: Intended for print media, enabling the creation of printer-friendly layouts.
  • speech: Used for screen readers and text-to-speech devices to ensure content accessibility.

How can you combine multiple Media Types within a single @media rule?

You can combine multiple Media Types within a single @media rule by separating them with commas, like this:

@media screen, print {
  /* Styles for both screen and print media types */

This approach allows you to apply the same styles to multiple media types simultaneously.

What are some common use cases for the print CSS Media Type, and how can it be utilized effectively?

The print Media Type is used for creating styles specifically intended for printed documents. Common use cases include:

  • Hiding elements that are unnecessary for printing, such as navigation menus or ads.
  • Adjusting font sizes and spacing for better readability on paper.
  • Setting page breaks to ensure content flows correctly on each printed page.

To utilize it effectively, you can define print-specific styles within an @media print block in your stylesheet.

@media print {
  /* Print-specific styles */

How can you create responsive web designs using CSS Media Types, and why is responsiveness important in modern web development?

Responsive web design is crucial for accommodating various screen sizes and devices. To create responsive designs, you can use CSS Media Types like screen and max-width or min-width media queries. For instance:

@media screen and (max-width: 768px) {
  /* Styles for screens with a maximum width of 768px */

Responsive design ensures that your website adapts to different devices, providing a better user experience and improving accessibility.

What are "orientation" media queries, and how can they be utilized to create responsive designs?

"Orientation" media queries target the orientation of the device, such as portrait or landscape. You can use them to adjust styles based on how the user holds their device. For example:

@media screen and (orientation: portrait) {
  /* Styles for portrait orientation */

@media screen and (orientation: landscape) {
  /* Styles for landscape orientation */

These media queries are handy for optimizing layouts and content based on the way a device is held.

How can you use the "resolution" media feature in media queries to target high-resolution displays, and why is this important for web development?

The "resolution" media feature in media queries allows you to target screens with specific pixel densities or resolutions, such as Retina displays. This is important because it lets you serve higher-resolution images and graphics to devices that support them, providing a sharper and crisper visual experience. For example:

@media screen and (min-resolution: 300dpi) {
  /* Apply styles for high-resolution displays */


CSS Media Types provide developers with a powerful mechanism to apply different styles and layouts based on the characteristics of the device or medium that is rendering the webpage. By using media types like screen, print, and speech designers can tailor the presentation of content to suit specific contexts, such as computer screens, printed materials, or screen readers.

CSS Media Types enable the creation of responsive designs that adapt to different devices and media, ensuring optimal readability, accessibility, and user experience. By leveraging the capabilities of CSS Media Types, developers can deliver content that is optimized for various output mediums, enhancing the overall versatility and compatibility of their webpages.