javascript – How to preserve aspect ratio when scaling image using one (CSS) dimension in IE6?-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

Here’s the problem. I have an image:

<img alt="alttext" src="filename.jpg"/>

Note no height or width specified.

On certain pages I want to only show a thumbnail. I can’t alter the html, so I use the following CSS:

.blog_list div.postbody img { width:75px; }

Which (in most browsers) makes a page of uniformly wide thumbnails, all with preserved aspect ratios.

In IE6 though, the image is only scaled in the dimension specified in the CSS. It retains the ‘natural’ height.

Here’s an example of a pair of pages that illustrate the problem:

I’d be very grateful for all suggestions, but would like to point out that (due to the limitations of the clients chosen platform) I’m looking for something that doesn’t involve modifying the html. CSS would also be preferable to javascript.

EDIT: Should mention that the images are of different sizes and aspect ratios.

How to solve:

Adam Luter gave me the idea for this, but it actually turned out to be really simple:

img {
  width:  75px;
  height: auto;

IE6 now scales the image fine and this seems to be what all the other browsers use by default.

Thanks for both the answers though!


I’m glad that worked out, so I guess you had to explicitly set ‘auto’ on IE6 in order for it to mimic other browsers!

I actually recently found another technique for scaling images, again designed for backgrounds. This technique has some interesting features:

  1. The image aspect ratio is preserved
  2. The image’s original size is maintained (that is, it can never shrink only grow)

The markup relies on a wrapper element:

<div id="wrap"><img src="test.png" /></div>

Given the above markup you then use these rules:

#wrap {
  height: 100px;
  width: 100px;
#wrap img {
  min-height: 100%;
  min-width: 100%;

If you then control the size of wrapper you get the interesting scale effects that I list above.

To be explicit, consider the following base state: A container that is 100×100 and an image that is 10×10. The result is a scaled image of 100×100.

  1. Starting at the base state, the
    container resized to 20×100, the
    image stays resized at 100×100.
  2. Starting at the base state, the
    image is changed to 10×20, the image
    resizes to 100×200.

So, in other words, the image is always at least as big as the container, but will scale beyond it to maintain it’s aspect ratio.

This probably isn’t useful for your site, and it doesn’t work in IE6. But, it is useful to get a scaled background for your view port or container.


Well, I can think of a CSS hack that will resolve this issue.

You could add the following line in your CSS file:

* html .blog_list div.postbody img { width:75px; height: SpecifyHeightHere; } 

The above code will only be seen by IE6.
The aspect ratio won’t be perfect, but you could make it look somewhat normal.
If you really wanted to make it perfect, you would need to write some javascript that would read the original picture width, and set the ratio accordingly to specify a height.


The only way to do explicit scaling in CSS is to use tricks such as found here.

IE6 only, you could also use filters (check out PNGFix). But applying them automatically to the page will need javascript, though that javascript could be embedded in the CSS file.

If you are going to require javascript, then you might want to just have javascript fill in the missing value for the height by inspecting the image once the content has loaded. (Sorry I do not have a reference for this technique).

Finally, and pardon me for this soapbox, you might want to eschew IE6 support in this matter. You could add _width: auto after your width: 75px rule, so that IE6 at least renders the image reasonably, even if it is the wrong size.

I recommend the last solution simply because IE6 is on the way out: 20% and going down almost a percent a month. Also, I note that your site is recreational and in the UK. Both of these help the demographic lean to be away from IE6: IE6 usage drops nearly 40% during weekends (no citation sorry), and UK has a much lower IE6 demographic (again no citation, sorry).

Good luck!

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