How to Get Started with CSS Calc

CSS calc () is a property expression which allows you to perform minor calculations on the stylesheets itself. The expression allows us to calculate the result of the subtraction between two different CSS length values right on the stylesheets without using JavaScript, even if the lengths don’t share the same units.

Using CSS calc (), we can perform basic arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The function works on many types of numerical CSS values like time, length, angle, frequency, integers and numbers.

When to avoid CSS calc ()?

Sometimes there arises a situation where you will have to perform some calculations on the stylesheets; if you think that calculations can be done by yourself easily, better avoid using CSS calc (), as unnecessary browser calculations can slow down the web page. It would be better if you can pull out a real calculator and do the math.

When to use CSS calc ()?

CSS calc can be of a great help where one of the units is a relative unit while the other is a fixed unit. One best thing about CSS calc is its ability to negotiate between different CSS units; it’s really magnificent in responsive web designs. It plays a great role when you have to place something in the center, leaving margins to its right and left. Using CSS calc (), we can easily account for a vertical scroll bar ensuring the readability comfort.

Specification Status

The specifications for CSS calc () is described in World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The module is currently in W3C CR (Candidate Recommendation) status which means that it is just two levels away from being finalized. As of now, CSS calc () is one of the three CSS features singled out in the module’s specification as being in danger of getting dropped.

Browser Support

According to the data from, CSS calc () is currently supported on almost 82% of the browsers which are being used on the web. Internet Explorer 9 partially supports CSS calc () whereas the subsequent versions of the browser have full feature support. 

Basically, the users want CSS calc () function to work as a value in all the places where a value with/without specified units works. But when the basic support is extremely good, we might run into trouble depending on the areas we use it.  

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