Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > CSS

Using the Liquid CSS Layouts in Dreamweaver CS4

Liquid layouts, based on a percentage of the size of the browser's window (or viewport), are one way to create flexible sites that work for a variety of users. In this chapter, learn the pros and cons of creating a liquid layout.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

WITH THE PROLIFERATION of large monitors, creating a layout that serves the same fixed width (typically either 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768) to all browsers may leave a good deal of empty space on some screens. Clients often question this unused space, since using more of the viewer's screen must give the client more bang for their buck, right? Liquid layouts, based on a percentage of the size of the browser's window (or viewport), are one way to create flexible sites that work for a variety of users.

In this chapter, we will look at the pros and cons of creating a liquid layout using our fictional client, the Pleasantville Regional Chamber of Commerce. Their in-house designer has sent us a Photoshop comp and has requested that the blue portion of the design fill the browser window. They want no space on the sides.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 The design comp from their in-house designers shows their vision of the site.

The easiest way to fill the browser window and remain flexible is to use one of Dreamweaver's three-column liquid layouts with header and footer. The liquid layouts are composed of percentage-based columns contained within a percentage-based container. We'll need to make a few modifications to achieve the desired effect, but we'll discuss that as we go.

  1. Create a new page using File > New.
  2. In the Blank Page section of the dialog, select the 3 column liquid, header and footer layout.
  3. Set the DocType to XHTML 1.0 Transitional and make sure that Create New File is selected in the Layout CSS drop-down list.

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 Choose the 3 column liquid, header and footer layout.

  4. Click Create.

    Dreamweaver allows you to name the CSS file as well as determine where it will reside in your site structure. If you use the defaults, your file will be called thrColLiqHdr.css and will reside in the root folder of your site.

  5. Save the (X)HTML file as index.html into the root of your site.

Simplifying the CSS Selectors

Since our pages will all contain three columns in this site, we won't need to mix different types of CSS layouts. As we discussed previously, if you don't need to mix layouts, you don't need to keep the class on the body that precedes the selectors. For simplicity's sake, and to make the selectors more readable in the CSS panel, let's strip out all the .thrColLiqHdr classes.

  1. At the top of your index.html page, click the thrColLiqHdr.css on the Related Files toolbar.

    If you were working in another view, you'll be placed in Code and Design view. Remember, if you have the monitor space, you can split your views vertically on the new Application Bar.

    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 The Related Files toolbar showing both the Source Code and the linked CSS document.

  2. Highlight a class that begins with .thrColLiqHdr in the CSS of your document (as well as the space behind it) and use Ctrl+F to open the Find and Replace dialog.

    It opens with the class you highlighted in the Find portion of the window. Make sure Find in is set to Current Document and leave the Replace area blank.

  3. Click Replace All.

    Dreamweaver quickly strips those classes right out of the CSS document.

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 The Find and Replace dialog with the .thrColLiqHdr class highlighted.

  4. Move back to Source Code on your Related Files toolbar and repeat the process. Also, place your cursor anywhere in the page and right-click on <body.thrColLiqHdr> in the tag selector. Choose Set Class > None from the drop-down list.

    This removes the class applied to the body selector.

  5. Save both documents.

We're ready to begin the process of modifying the page for our intended layout.

Since our design uses 100% of the browser window, the background color on the body element will no longer be visible on the sides. But if we are working in a short page (which might happen if a user is working on a high-resolution monitor with their browser viewport quite large), the space below the footer will show the background color, or lack of color if none is defined. A white space below the footer will be visible, and with this design that could be quite jarring. Sampling the footer color and using it for our overall background color allows us to leave the footer background transparent and ensure we have a seamless transition when our page ends. The dark blue will simply continue to the bottom of the user's browser viewport.

  1. Open the CSS Styles panel in the Current view. Select <body> on the tag selector. Click the edit (pencil) icon at the bottom of the CSS Styles panel.
  2. In the Background category, change the Background-color to #1b1a52.

    Notice that in the comp from our designer, all the fonts except those in the main body are rendered in Georgia.

  3. While you're in the CSS Rule dialog, change the font property to the preset font set of Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif and click OK.

    Viewing the CSS document, you'll notice the body selector is now changed to:

    body {
     font: 100% Georgia, "Times New Roman", Times, serif;
     background: #1b1a52;
     margin: 0;
     padding: 0;
     text-align: center;
     color: #000000;

    For some designs, we'd want the container (the div that contains all other divs) to be a percentage of the total browser width, and centered. In this case, we want the design to fill the entire window, so we'll adjust the width.

  4. Click anywhere in the main layout and select <div#container> from the tag selector.

    In the Properties section of the CSS panel, you'll notice that this layout, by default, is 80% of the browser window (based on the body rule which is left at its default 100%).

  5. Change the width value in the Properties pane to 100%.

    We also won't need the border, nor will we need to center the div using the value of auto assigned to the side margins since it will completely fill the browser window. Later, we will be bringing our colors and images in through other divs, so the background can go as well.

    Many times, when you're dealing with a layout that is predominantly white (or any other color), it's simplest to define that color in the overall #container rule.

  6. Delete the border and margin properties by right-clicking each property in the Properties pane and choosing Delete or by selecting the property and clicking the trashcan icon at the bottom of the panel.

    Finally, let's scale all our fonts down since the 16px size most browser defaults are set at is rather large.

  7. With <div#container> still selected in the tag selector, click the Add Property link in the Properties pane of the CSS Styles panel and type (or choose from the drop-down list) font-size. Tab to the next input field and type 80%.

    Our #container rule is now:

    #container {
     width: 100%;
     background: #FFFFFF;
     text-align: left;
     font-size: 80%;

    We've now completed the preliminaries and we're ready to move on to creating our client's actual page.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020