noframes (HTML element)

Depr. Empty Version
Yes No HTML 4.01
Browser support (more…)
IE5.5+ FF1+ SA1.3+ OP9.2+ CH2+
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This is an element that you will likely not need to use all that often. The reason for this is that people have generally moved away from using frameset based web sites, and hence the requirement for providing alternative content in the noframes is similarly reduced. Secondly, even if you do have to create a frameset-based web site, you would be hard-pushed to find a mainstream web browser that does not support framesets. That said, there are some people who use text-browsers that do not support frames, and some mobile devices will not play nice with frames, so it should not be dismissed out of hand.

The noframes can contain all the elements that you would naturally expect to find inside the body of a normal (non frame-based) - in effect, the noframes is equivalent to the body. However, in the XHTML frameset doctype, the noframes must first contain a body (which can then contain the additional child elements to create the page content).

The noframes element provides an opportunity for search engines to get to your content in the event that the search bot is not able to crawl content contained within framesets. For example, if you contain a small sitemap in the noframes linking to the main sections of your web site, then you are giving yourself a slightly higher chance of getting content properly indexed. That said, most search engines are clever enough to index content contained in frames now, so this is less of an issue than it used to be.


The noframes is used here to notify the user that frames are required:

<frameset rows="100,*">
 <frame src="header.html"/>
 <frame src="home.html"/>
 <h1>This site requires a browser that supports framesets</h1>
 <p>We're sorry, but this page relies on frames for navigation.
 <a href="/support/">You can find out what browsers we
 support here</a></p>

Use this for…

The noframes element gives you the opportunity to do one of the following (in order of preference/practicality):

  • Linking directly to the non-frameset version of the web site.
  • Creating alternative content (for example, simplified navigation menus and content) for non frames-capable browsers or
  • Providing a message to users of the web site that frames are required and how they can go about addressing the problem

The first option is simplest (assuming that have a non frameset version to point to, of course!). However, this does suggest that you have to maintain a framed and non-framed version of the site. If the web site is run from on a CMS platform, this may not be a massive overhead.

Providing a ‘you need to upgrade to a browser that supports framesets’ is the least useful, as this may be impossible for the user for various reasons (perhaps it’s a mobile device that cannot be updated, or perhaps the user is browsing in a library or similar where they cannot change the browser). Also be aware that if you do take this approach, in some search engines the summary for your site that is displayed on screen will be the ‘Your browser does not support frames’ message, which hardly makes a compelling case for the user to click through.


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Every browser listed supports this element type.

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