[Fixed] @media query in CSS not working issue

CSS media queries are an incredibly useful tool for targeting specific devices, resolutions, and other factors. We will go over steps to fix media query issues

Dec 4, 2022 | Read time 8 minutes

🔔 Table of contents

CSS media queries are an incredibly useful tool for targeting specific devices, resolutions, and other factors when creating a website.

This is good for overall responsive design.

However, when they don’t work, it can be incredibly frustrating.

Steps to fix CSS media queries issues include the following:

1.Check your media query syntax

The most common cause of media queries not working is incorrect syntax. Make sure that you’ve got all the correct characters in the correct order. It’s also important to make sure that you’re using the correct syntax for the version of CSS you’re using.

2. Check to see if you are using the right break points It’s also important to make sure that we are using the right break points (and orientation) for the devices we want to test. For example, mobile phones such as iPhones will have lower breakpoints.

3. Make Sure the Media Queries Are in the Correct Order

The order of your media queries is also important. Generally speaking, you want to put the most specific media query first and the most general one last in your CSS file.

4. Check for Conflicting Styles - Check you dont have conflicting breakpoints or not logical operators

5. Are you using the HTML viewport meta tag? eg <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1" />

Check your media query syntax

CSS media query follows the syntax of having starting with the @media at-rule and then followed by media type (screen, print, all) and a bunch of media features:

@media screen and (min-width: 30em) and (orientation: landscape) {
  /* CSS rules here */
  p {
    font-size: 0.5rem;

So in the above example, we can see that the media type is screen and the media features are min-width: 30em and orientation:landscape. Just means that the CSS that this media query is targeting should be for screens and the devices with min-width of 30em and orientation mode.

Some common mistakes with syntax when using media queries:

  • Spelling mistakes - since its a fair chunk of code to type out, check that you have the right spelling. Tools like VSCode can help with this.
  • Using commas means different things. Take the following example:
@media only screen and (min-width: 600px), screen and (max-width: 601px) {
    li {
        display: inline;
        padding-left : 5%;
        padding-right: 5%;

The above means that we are declaring two different media queries. If we want to target min-width of 600px and max-width of 601px, we should re-write it as follows:

@media only screen and (min-width: 600px) and (max-width: 601px) {...

Check to see if you are using the right break points

Our website can be accessed on a wide range of devices (tablets, phones, desktop), having break points we can define specifically how our website looks on each.

When doing responsive first design (design for mobile first and then move up), it is prefered to follow the below set of breakpoints as a general rule.

Image of device dimentions used for responsive design

// X-Small devices (portrait phones, less than 576px)

// Small devices (landscape phones, 576px and up)
@media (min-width: 576px) { ... }

// Medium devices (tablets, 768px and up)
@media (min-width: 768px) { ... }

// Large devices (desktops, 992px and up)
@media (min-width: 992px) { ... }

// X-Large devices (large desktops, 1200px and up)
@media (min-width: 1200px) { ... }

// XX-Large devices (larger desktops, 1400px and up)
@media (min-width: 1400px) { ... }

Check out the following table for breakpoints for specific devices and their orientation

Device Device width (portrait) Device height (landscape) Pixel ratio
HTC One 360 640 3
Samsung Galaxy S2 320 534 1.5
Samsung Galaxy S3 320 640 2
Samsung Galaxy S4 320 640 3
Samsung Galaxy S5 360 640 3
LG Nexus 4 384 592 2
LG Nexus 5 360 592 3
Asus Nexus 7 601 906 1.33
iPad 1 and 2 768 1024 1
iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Pro 9" 768 1024 1
iPad 3 and 4 768 1024 2
iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Pro 9" 768 1024 1
iPad Pro 10" 834 1112 1
iPad Pro 12" 1024 1366 1
iPhone 3G 320 480 1
iPhone 4 320 480 2
iPhone 5 320 568 2
iPhone SE 320 568 2
iPhone 6, 7, 8, X 375 667 2
iPhone 6 Plus 414 736 3
Huawei Ascend P6 360 592 2
Huawei Ascend P7 360 592 3
OnePlus One 360 640 3
HD laptops 1366
13" MacBook Pro 1440

(Note: the values are in pixels)

Make Sure the Media Queries Are in the Correct Order

Make sure that the standard CSS declarations are above the @media query definition. Take the following example:


@media screen and (max-width: 350px) {

If we have the .test class below our @media query, then it will not apply the font-size:180px property.

Check for Conflicting Styles

Media queries allows you to build up logical operators (using things like and and not). This can lead to confusion and conflicts within your styles.

An example is specifying conflicting widths:

/* ❌ Not working due to min width will conflict with max-width*/
@media all and (min-width:300px) and (max-width:200px) {
  /* … */

As another example, when using the not logical operator, it will apply to the whole media query and not individual attributes. Lets say we want to target all media types (screen, print, et) and only for monochrome browsers:

@media all and (monochrome) {
  /* … */

Now if we add a not operator, it will apply to the whole media query (not individual attributes):

@media not all and (monochrome) {
  /* … */

/* ✔️ This will be the same as the above*/
@media not (all and (monochrome)) {
  /* … */

/* ❌ Not the same as above - since "not" will always apply to the whole query */
@media (not all) and (monochrome) {
  /* … */

Are you using the HTML viewport meta tag?

Typically, not all devices have the same width, so in our HTML we need to specify the following meta tag:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1" />

In the above, we just specify the width to adhere to the device-width and the zoom (initial-scale) to be the default of 1.

💡 Tip: When emulating devices in chrome, make sure to also add the minimum-scale:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1, minimum-scale=1" />


Hopefully, these tips will help you to get your media queries working properly. Remember to double-check your syntax, make sure that there are no conflicting CSS styles (min and max width breakpoints), check that you are using the HTML meta viewport tag, check for correct breakpoints. Good luck!

👋 About the Author

G'day! I am Huy a software engineer based in Australia. I have been creating design-centered software for the last 10 years both professionally and as a passion.

My aim to share what I have learnt with you! (and to help me remember 😅)

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