Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

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Website Development
The website technology supporting Philadelphia Reflections is PHP, MySQL and DHTML. The web hosting service is Internet Planners. The development of this website has provided an opportunity to learn new technology, to try out different techniques for getting noticed by the search engines and the trials and tribulations of dealing with malicious hackers and spammers who range from the annoying to the abusive. This collection of articles documents some of our experiences and we hope that people surfing the web looking for solutions to problems we've encountered will benefit.

Floating Three-Column CSS Layout

A current fad in web page styling is to use CSS exclusively to define the basic page sections. The "old" way of doing this was to use tables, but that's no longer stylish. Instead, we are exhorted to use CSS exclusively.

A very common page layout has a head and a foot with three columns sandwiched in between. Philadelphia Reflections uses this layout.

Most descriptions of this layout style that I have found Googling around the Internet involve absolute positioning which very often does not adapt well to differing screen sizes and browser window sizes. What we use here makes use of floating columns, which re-size themselves very nicely.

Several anomalies and quirks should be noted:

  • Each element is defined as a DIV
  • The left, right and center DIVs must be enclosed in a "wrapper" DIV
  • The three columns must be followed by a clear:both DIV
  • The center column must be below the left and right columns
  • The center column actually is as wide as the whole page (try including border-style:solid)

These quirks and anaomalies make me think that maybe this either isn't quite kosher or else may be superceded by later CSS definitions. But for the time being, this works very happily and both the HTML and the CSS validate perfectly well.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN">
    <title> Floating Three-column CSS example</title>

    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1">

<style type="text/css">

 #head {

 #wrap {

 #left {
  width: 30%;

 #right {

 #center {

 #clear {

 #foot {



    <div id="head">

    <div id="wrap">

      <div id="left">

      <div id="right">

      <div id="center">

      <div id="clear"></div>


    <div id="foot">



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