Product Design Lessons

Intro to Foundation  |   Lesson #20

Change Foundation’s Default Breakpoints

Learn to change the points at which different Foundation layouts operate.

illustration depicting a change in breakpoints for responsive web design

Foundation 4.3 and later come with two breakpoints — the pixel widths at which different grids take effect. We chose its default settings to accommodate most scenarios. But most doesn’t cover everyone. Sometimes a project requires different breakpoints. Here’s how you can tailor Foundation to suit your product design’s requirements.

1. Change the Sass variables

The easiest way to the width of Foundation’s three grids is to edit their settings in SCSS. In _settings.css, look for:

Media Query Ranges
$small-range: (0em, 40em);
$medium-range: (40.063em, 64em);
$large-range: (64.063em, 90em);
$xlarge-range: (90.063em, 120em);
$xxlarge-range: (120.063em);

2. Search and replace in CSS

You’ll find breakpoints on many different lines. For example:

@media only screen and (min-width: 40.063em)

@media only screen and (min-width: 64.063em)

@media only screen and (min-width: 90.063em)

@media only screen and (min-width: 120.063em)

Each represents the point at which browsers apply different rules: Small, medium, large and extra large, respectively.

3. Which sizes to choose?

If you take a content-first approach, measure in ems or rems.

$row-width: rem-calc(1000);
$column-gutter: rem-calc(30);
$total-columns: 12;

As of this writing, Foundation 5 measures columns in rems. If you prefer pixel measurements, the rem-calc() function to tranlate pixels to rems for you. For example, with a body font size of 16px, rem-calc(600) would tell Foundation you mean 37.5 rems.

But if you design to fit devices rather than content, here are resources to help you pick which sizes to go with.

4. Customize the download

One more thing: Did you know Foundation doesn’t have to have 12 columns? You can customize the number of columns, gutter size and container width with the custom download form.

About the instructor


Ben Gremillion is a Design Writer at ZURB. He started his career in newspaper and magazine design, saw a digital future, and learned HTML in short order. He facilitates the ZURB training courses.