<picture>: The Picture element

The <picture> HTML element contains zero or more <source> elements and one <img> element to offer alternative versions of an image for different display/device scenarios.

The browser will consider each child <source> element and choose the best match among them. If no matches are found—or the browser doesn't support the <picture> element—the URL of the <img> element's src attribute is selected. The selected image is then presented in the space occupied by the <img> element.

Try it

To decide which URL to load, the user agent examines each <source>'s srcset, media, and type attributes to select a compatible image that best matches the current layout and capabilities of the display device.

The <img> element serves two purposes:

  1. It describes the size and other attributes of the image and its presentation.
  2. It provides a fallback in case none of the offered <source> elements are able to provide a usable image.

Common use cases for <picture>:

  • Art direction. Cropping or modifying images for different media conditions (for example, loading a simpler version of an image which has too many details, on smaller displays).
  • Offering alternative image formats, for cases where certain formats are not supported.

    Note: For example, newer formats like AVIF or WEBP have many advantages, but might not be supported by the browser. A list of supported image formats can be found in: Image file type and format guide.

  • Saving bandwidth and speeding page load times by loading the most appropriate image for the viewer's display.

If providing higher-density versions of an image for high-DPI (Retina) display, use srcset on the <img> element instead. This lets browsers opt for lower-density versions in data-saving modes, and you don't have to write explicit media conditions.


This element includes only global attributes.

Usage notes

You can use the object-position property to adjust the positioning of the image within the element's frame, and the object-fit property to control how the image is resized to fit within the frame.

Note: Use these properties on the child <img> element, not the <picture> element.


These examples demonstrate how different attributes of the <source> element change the selection of the image inside <picture>.

The media attribute

The media attribute specifies a media condition (similar to a media query) that the user agent will evaluate for each <source> element.

If the <source>'s media condition evaluates to false, the browser skips it and evaluates the next element inside <picture>.

  <source srcset="mdn-logo-wide.png" media="(min-width: 600px)" />
  <img src="mdn-logo-narrow.png" alt="MDN" />

The srcset attribute

The srcset attribute is used to offer a list of possible images based on size or the display's pixel density.

It is composed of a comma-separated list of image descriptors. Each image descriptor is composed of a URL of the image, and either:

  • a width descriptor, followed by a w (such as 300w); OR
  • a pixel density descriptor, followed by an x (such as 2x) to serve a high-res image for high-DPI screens.

Make sure to note that:

  • width and pixel density descriptors should not be used together
  • a missing pixel density descriptor implies 1x
  • duplicate descriptor values are not allowed (2x & 2x, 100w & 100w)

The following example illustrates the usage of srcset attribute with the <source> element to specify a high-density and standard-resolution image:

  <source srcset="logo.png, logo-1.5x.png 1.5x" />
  <img src="logo.png" alt="MDN Web Docs logo" height="320" width="320" />

The srcset attribute can also be used on the <img> element without needing the <picture> element. The following example demonstrates how to use the srcset attribute to specify standard-resolution and high-density images, respectively:

  srcset="logo.png, logo-2x.png 2x"
  alt="MDN Web Docs logo" />

The sizes attribute is not mandatory when using srcset, but it is recommended to use it in order to provide additional information to the browser to help it select the best image source.

Without sizes, the browser will use the default size of the image as specified by its dimensions in pixels. This may not be the best fit for all devices, especially if the image is displayed on different screen sizes or in different contexts.

Please note that sizes will have its effect only if width dimension descriptors are provided with srcset instead of pixel ratio values (200w instead of 2x for example). For more information on using srcset, see the Responsive images documentation.

The type attribute

The type attribute specifies a MIME type for the resource URL(s) in the <source> element's srcset attribute. If the user agent does not support the given type, the <source> element is skipped.

  <source srcset="photo.avif" type="image/avif" />
  <source srcset="photo.webp" type="image/webp" />
  <img src="photo.jpg" alt="photo" />

Technical summary

Content categories Flow content, phrasing content, embedded content
Permitted content Zero or more <source> elements, followed by one <img> element, optionally intermixed with script-supporting elements.
Tag omission None, both the starting and ending tag are mandatory.
Permitted parents Any element that allows embedded content.
Implicit ARIA role No corresponding role
Permitted ARIA roles No role permitted
DOM interface HTMLPictureElement


HTML Standard
# the-picture-element

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also