Responsive Sass Mixin For Inline SVG

A handy mixin for making your inline SVGs Responsive

by Rob Levin


I don't really want to have to calculate the height divided by width for every SVG I put on my site…so I built a Sass mixin to handle it!

Responsive SVG Sass Mixin

If you've read Sara Soueidan's article on making SVG responsive, you're likely quite annoyed that you have to calculate the ratio of height / width to determine your padding-bottom percentage to make it work in IE (I was). I was thinking that, perhaps, a Grunt plugin might work to ease this pain, but every solution I thought of felt a bit too, well, intrusive. It occured to me that the annoyance is really only the ratio calculation, so the solution should also be small–Sass mixins to rescue!

SVG Padding Hack

If you're too damn lazy to read her article (you slacker!), she actually summed it up quite well in a tweet back to me: "Collapse height to 0 apply padding so that the new height is a ratio of the width & get the aspect ratio u want"…brilliant!

Essentially, this is an “IE thang”, and, apparently, the @IEDevChat team is hard at work and will hopefully get this sort of stuff worked out.

In the meantime, I don't want yet another thing to worry about when I'm trying to pump out web sites! So I made the following mixin:

$svg-container-namespace: '.svg-container';

//Give 'em' 1:1 responsive container by default
#{$svg-container-namespace} {
  display: inline-block;
  position: relative;
  height: 0;
  width: 100%;
  padding: 0;
  //Default for 1:1 aspect ratio
  padding-bottom: 100%;
  vertical-align: middle;
  overflow: hidden;

//Pass in width / height without any length unit specifier (so we don't have to do sill strip unit wackiness!), and
//this will determine appropraite ratio for padding hack and deliver the conainter code.
//Ex. if you had W100 and H200 you'll get a `padding-bottom:200%`
//Preferably, put something like `viewBox="0 0 N N" preserveAspectRatio="xMinYMin meet"` on your SVG root element
@mixin svg-responsive ($width: 1, $height: 1, $suffix:"") {
  $padding-bottom: percentage($height/$width);
  #{$svg-container-namespace}-#{$suffix} {
    padding-bottom: $padding-bottom;

@include svg-responsive (1, 2, "2x-height");

//You have to write this once in your code...just apply this class on all your SVGs and absolutely position them top left inline block:
.svg {
  display: inline-block;
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  left: 0;

Here's an example that uses the default mixin, which will only work for 1:1 ratio (a box):

<div class="svg-container">
  <svg class="svg" viewBox="0 0 64 64" preserveAspectRatio="xMinYMin meet">
    <circle cx="32" cy="32" r="20" stroke="#08BCD0" stroke-width="4" fill="none" />
A Stroked SVG Circle

And here's an example for 1:2 width vs. height, and the class was created with:

@include svg-responsive (1, 2, '2x-height');

But you needn't simplify, in many case it would be easiest to just supply the width and height like:

@include svg-responsive (64, 128, '2x-height');


<div class="svg-container svg-container-2x-height">
  <svg class="svg" viewBox="0 0 64 128" preserveAspectRatio="xMinYMin meet">
    <circle cx="32" cy="32" r="20" stroke="#08BCD0" stroke-width="4" fill="none" />
Rect with height is twice that of width

Note that this attempts to useSMACSS CSS conventions on the container class names. Amongst other things, this allows us to keep all the boiler-plate container code in the base module which defaults to .svg-container..

Sort of “thinking out loud”, but, if you could manage to keep your SVGs using the golden ratio you could likely do something like this:

@include svg-responsive (1, 1.61803398875, 'golden');

Since under the hood, it's just dividing the arguments you pass for width and height to determine the padding-bottom ratio.

I created a Gist for this if you wanna go grab it and put it on your stuff. It should be easy to convert to Less or Stylus if that's your thing. Here's the code (yet again) in Gist wonder:

So a big fat disclaimer that I did this somewhat impulsively, and haven't tested it thoroughly yet (besides this very article), and, so, there may still need to be some tweaks (although I can't imagine it's not right wink wink!).

Update: I'm a bit surprised by the reaction, but I guess it makes sense since Responsive SVG is not exactly intuitive for those that haven't yet tackled SVG's Coordinate System. Should I make this a Unicorn-UI module? It'd be like 20 lines of code, but I suppose we could supply a half-dozen common aspect ratios and let you opt-in (like we do in Buttons by using Sass Lists). Love to hear if this is worthwhile to folks in the comments. If so, we could probably have it coded up pretty quickly.