The frames feature of HTML 3.0 allows authors to provide unique page designs that include interactive displays of data and/or images. The frames feature has new syntax that must be learned to successfully incorporate the allowable options that increases flexiblity of presentation and use. My intent is to provide a few guidelines, touch on the syntax and put up a few examples. The opening and closing tags required for all HTML documents have been omitted for clarity. I encourage you to construct one or two to better understand this neat addition to the hypertext code. This presentation is divided into the three topics. Caution: HTML 5 does not support frames.

Guides to Layout, Framesets and Borders
Frames and Targets
Templates, Examples, and Tidbits
Frame Builder


Not all pages are candidates for a frame style presentation and its use should be selective. Frames do, however, provide a super way of indexing data by allowing the user to have constant visibility of selectable information. Thoughtful layout is the first step. You need to decide what form or "look" you require before starting construction.
The <frameset> tag is the container for all code in the layout and must appear before <body> open and close tags. The attributes of <frameset> are columns and rows so you must decide how they apply to your layout.
For starters we will look at a page divided into columns and a page divided into rows. These can also be subdivided into columns or rows as shown here. Columns division uses <frameset cols=>; and rows, <frameset rows=>. Widths of columns (or heights of rows) may be specified in pixels or percentages of window size. Inserting an asterick (*) conveniently allows for use of remaining space.
(Two columns with two rows in column #1.)
col 1, row 1 col 2
col 1, row 2

The basic code:
<frameset cols="50%,50%">
<frameset rows="50%,50%">
<frame src="col1row1.html">
<frame src="col1row2.html">
<frame src="col2.html">
(Two rows with two columns in row #1.)
row 1, col 1 row 1, col 2
row 2

The basic code:
<frameset rows="50%,50%">
<frameset cols="50%,50%">
<frame src="row1col1.html">
<frame src="row1col2.html">
<frame src="row2.html">

Above examples demonstrated division by only two although additional division is possible and may be desirable for your project. In a following example, I use a window divided into three rows.

Elements of the Frame tag.

Name, scrolling, and noresize are three important attributes of <frame>. Applying a name to the frame, name=" ", provides its use as a target as I will discuss later, but may be omitted if the frame is not to be targeted. Scrolling, hscrolling, and vscrolling can be set to "yes", "no", or "auto" to control the appearance (or disappearance) of the frame's scroll bars. hscrolling and vscrolling control the horizontal and vertical bars independently. "auto" is a nice setting because it lets the browser display scroll bars only when necessary. As an author, you may restrict browsers from changing frame size by adding noresize.

This example includes all elements of the <frame> tag.

<frameset rows="30,*,20">

<frame name="banner" scrolling="no"
noresize src="banner.html">

<frame name="content" scrolling="yes"
noresize src="content.html">

<frame scrolling="no" noresize src="toolbar.html">


The resultant layout.

30 pixel banner, no scrolling
"content", scrolling
20 pixel toolbar, no scrolling

A word of caution:

Not all browsers are "frames-capable" and Netscape has provided a <noframes> tag set to follow the <frameset> command. Those surfers with Netscape 2.0 will see the frames layout and others will view an alternate or normal page. The code for the "normal" page is bounded by the <noframes> and </noframes> tag set and includes the <body> and </body> tag set and all code therein.

A basic sequence of code is shown here.

<frameset cols="20%,80%">
<frame src="col1.html">
<frame src="col2.html">

<body bgcolor="#ffffcc">

Viewed with a "frames-capable" browser
col 1, 20% col 2
Viewed with a "noframes" browser
normal window






Removing borders from the frameset is simple. Include border="0" within the opening frameset tag.


<frameset rows="50,*" border="0">
<frame src="aa.html">
<frame src="bb.html">
<frame src="cc.html">

Another example:




For each <frameset> in the layout a separate html file is required for each <frame>. These are "normal" pages but must be sized to fit within the areas assigned in the layout. Each page is named to match that used in the layout and included in the <frame src="___.html"> tag. Since these html files are viewed in a smaller window pane (frame), attention must be given to the size of images and fonts used and the arrangement of text.

Hint: <table> tags combined with height and width specification provides good control of these smaller frames. The <nobreak> and <br> tags are useful in controlling text.

Here are a few ideas that might stir your imagination:

  • Frames can be used to keep footers and/or headers visible at all times. These may include a toolbar for selecting linked pages that will open in an adjacent frame above or below the toolbar.

  • Fixed or scrollable vertical linking lists can be made visible in a left or right frame that will display the selection in the adjacent frame while keeping the list visible.

  • Horizontally scrollable panoramas or lists are possible and may add interest to a presentation.


It is necessary to provide "control" within the frame that changes information in another frame. Consider a frameset of two columns, the left an index frame for making a selection and the right a content frame for displaying the selection. If the <frame> tag in the layout frameset included name="content", the controlling frame (index.html) should include <base target="content"> within the <head> tag. All links in the index.html frame will then target the "content" frame. Without this entry, it will be necessary to include target="content" within each of the links.

The targeted frame (content.html) name="content" needs to include the tag, <target="_top">. This tag will make the "content" frame load over itself each time it is targeted.

Example Layout:
<frameset cols="20%,80%">
<frame src="index.html">
<frame name="content" src="content.html">
Frame, index.html:
<base target="content">

Frame, content.html:


A review of the Netscape page on frame syntax and targeting windows may be beneficial at this time to learn of other tag options that control how targeted frames respond.

Here's a recap on the basics...


Here are two demos for changing two or more frames using Javascript. Demo #1 and Demo #2

Here's a demo for targeting another frame using Javascript.

Template No.1
Template No.2
Template No.3
Template No.4


If all else fails, try...

URL = Updated May, 2015
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