Charles A Upsdell

Website Design

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

This page gives answers to frequently asked questions:

See Also: related pages present a colophon and a list of software tools that I use.

Document Viewers - How Do I View Documents? Top of page

Some of my sites offer documents which must be read using programs which you might not have. This tells you how you can get free document viewers and editors.

The most common document files are:

  • .PDF Files: Adobe (Acrobat) Reader Files

Other common document files are:

  • .DOC/.DOCX Files: Microsoft Word Document Files
  • .GDOC Files: Google Document Files
  • .ODF Files: OpenDocument Files
  • .PPT/.PPTX Files: Microsoft PowerPoint Files
  • .RTF Files: Microsoft Rich Text Format Files
  • .XLS/.XLSX Files: Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Files
  • .XPS Files: Microsoft XPS Files

Ideally everyone should be able to read and print these documents, but some people don’t have the software to do so. This discusses what you can do if you lack the software.

Free software to view and print .PDF documents is:

  • Adobe (Acrobat) Reader: get the free Adobe Reader. Note: PDF files are the stand­ard format for distributing documents. I therefore recommend that you install Adobe Reader on all your devices, including all your PCs.

Free software to view, edit, and print .RTF documents is:

  • Microsoft WordPad & Apple TextEdit: WordPad is included in all versions of Windows, and TextEdit in all versions of Mac­OS. Many document readers can also read and write .RTF documents, e.g. Microsoft Word.

Free software to view, edit, and print documents — including Microsoft Office documents, .PDF documents, and Open­Document documents — are:

Domain Names - What Are They? Top of page

A domain name is an address on the Internet. For example:

The prefix 'www.' is traditional, but isn't always present: depending on how the server is set up, the 'www.' may be required, optional, forbidden, or replaced by something else. For my and domains the 'www.' is optional.

The suffix (e.g. ‘.com’ or ‘.ca’) is called the TLD (Top Level Domain).

Choose your name very carefully. It shouldn’t be someone’s trademark in the USA or your country: the trademark owner could make a claim to your choice. To protect a domain name from such a claim, you could trademark the domain name or the name from which the domain name was derived.

It may be wise to register several names: the name you prefer, plus similar names that you don’t want others to have; e.g., if your preferred name were, it may be wise to also register The cost of this is small, typically US$35 or less each year for each name. If protection of your domain name is especially important - as it would be for major corporations - it would be wise to register a wider range of domain names: e.g., with domain names ending in .biz, .com, .info, .net., .org, and also those ending in coun­try codes (such as .ca) for any countries in which you do business.

Domain Names - What Names Are Available? Top of page

Use this form to discover which domain names are available: enter a name to check it.


Remember to end the name with .com, .org, .net, or whatever.

Pages - Why Does A Browser Display Them Differently? Top of page

I design sites to work with all browsers in common use, including those which are very old and very new. Pages may, however, look somewhat different to different people:

  • User Configuration : my sites are designed to adapt to different sizes of browser windows, different sizes of fonts, and to different fonts, so pages can look different depending on how the user has configured their browser, or on which fonts the user has.
  • Old Browsers : old browsers often have bugs and lack features which make pages look less at­trac­tive. An example is Internet Explorer, which fails to support many aspects of industry standards.
  • Modern Browsers : modern browsers display pages much the same, but each browser supports different aspects of the industry standards, so each browser may display pages a little diffe­rently. Differences tend to disappear as the browsers are improved.
  • Mobile Browsers : some sites are not designed for mobile browsers, and may look bad when a mobile browser is used; other sites are designed to adapt to better mobile browsers, so are designed to look different — sometimes very different — with small screens.

JavaScript - How Do I Enable It? Top of page

JavaScript is a programming language built into web browsers. A few people disable it in the belief that this will improve Internet security. Indeed, browser makers may advise people to disable JavaScript when a new security problem is found and the browser maker hasn’t yet fixed the prob­lem, and some people don’t re-enable JavaScript when the browser is fixed.

Right now JavaScript is disabled.

Some sites need JavaScript to work properly. You may have come here because you have been told that it is disabled.

See Also: check here to learn how to enable JavaScript in your browser. Note: if you use an unlisted browser, e.g. Brave or Vivaldi, check the procedure for ena­bling JavaScript in the parent browser, e.g. for the Brave and Vivaldi browsers, the parent browser is Chrome.

Pages - How Are Their Widths Set? Top of page

Some people wonder why pages have margins on the left and right, instead of using the full width of the browser window.

This is done to make the text easier to read. Research suggests that people can read more easily when lines of text are neither too long nor too short: very long lines are especially hard to read if lines are close together. My modern sites therefore normally set a maximum to the page width, where the maximum depends on the user’s preferred font size: people who prefer smaller fonts get narrow­er pages and wider margins; people who prefer larger fonts get wider pages and narrower margins; in both cases a given line of text will have about the same number of words no matter what the font size is, and therefore are equally easy to read.

Photos - What Do I Send? Top of page

This gives tips for ensuring the best results with photos you send me for your website. With the best re­sults, the photo will look good when it appears on the website, and its image file will be small enough that it loads quickly. If you send me a poor quality photo, the quality of the image on the website may be poor, or the image file may take longer to load than it should.

You can send me photo prints, image files from a scanner, or image files from a digital camera, however image files from a digital camera are best:

  • Photo prints: if you choose to send prints, please note:
    • Photo paper: make sure photos are on glossy, photo-quality paper; the paper must not have a matte, scratched, or pitted surface, and should not be defaced by such things as paper­clips or staples. [1]
    • Photo quality: send photos with fine detail, lighting, and colour. Much quality is lost when a web image is made from a photo, but the loss can be minimized if the photo quality is high. [2], [3]
    • Photo size: send photos that are notably larger than they will appear on your website. A photo that is too small must be enlarged, which lowers quality.
    • Negatives and slides: I cannot process negatives or slides.
  • Scanners: if you choose to scan your photos and send files instead of prints, please note:
    • Resolution: scan photos at a resolution of at least 150dpi; I often scan at 300dpi.
    • File format: send files in a non-lossy format, e.g. EPS, PNG, PSD, or TIFF files: not as JPEG files. If you can only send JPEG files, make sure you create them with minimum compression / maximum quality. When in doubt about the file format, contact me first.
    • Media: you can eMail files to me, but to send many files, or huge files, it is best to send them on CDs or on 100M ZIP disks.
  • Digital cameras: if you choose to send files from a digital camera, please note:
    • Resolution: use your camera’s highest resolution.
    • File format: send files in a non-lossy format, e.g. EPS, PNG, PSD, or TIFF files: not as JPEG files. If you can only send JPEG files, make sure you create them with minimum compression / maximum quality. When in doubt about the file format, contact me first.
    • Media: you can eMail files to me, but to send many files, or huge files, it is best to send them on CDs or on 100M ZIP disks.

Note [1]: a common error is to send photos on matte paper; such photos produce subtle but visible distor­tions when scanned.

Note [2]: it is especially important for skin tones to be accurate; I can adjust skin tones, but need to know what they should be.

Note [3]: I can correct many lighting and colour problems.

Printing - Why Don’t Pages Print Properly? Top of page

Intentional Differences in Printing

In many of my sites, some things will not be printed, by design: often the page banner, borders, back­ground, menus, and decorative items are not printed, because they are not needed on printed pages; and often, background colours are not printed unless there is a very good reason, and text is plain black on white, because this reduces your printer costs, especially if you have an ink-jet printer.

Unintentional Differences in Printing

Sometimes background colours and images will not be printed, even when they should be. This is because browsers have an option to disable printing of background colours and images: this can reduce your print­er costs, but may also result in printed pages that lack important content or which look bad; for example, if the page has white text on a dark background, and the browser does not print the background, the text will not show up. If this happens, you can configure your browser to print background colours and images, which will fix this problem. To do so:

  • Google Chrome: click the menu icon (three vertical dots), click Print, click +More Settings, click Background Graphics.
  • Microsoft Edge: there appears to be no way to do this.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: click File, Page Setup, then check Print background colors and images.
  • Mozilla Firefox or Mozilla SeaMonkey: click File, Page Setup, Format & Options, then check Print Background (colors and images).
  • Opera: click File, click Print, click +More Options, click Background Graphics.
  • Vivaldi: click File, click Print, click +More Options, click Background Graphics.

Your Updates - Why Aren’t They There? Top of page

Sometimes clients may notice that updates to their sites do not appear, or do not appear in a timely fashion.

This usually happens because the client’s browser is displaying old versions of pages, so clients should check for this before contacting me.

Why would a browser display an old version of a page? This happens because of “browser caching”: to display pages as quickly as possible, browsers maintain a cache — called Temporary Internet Files by Microsoft — which holds recently read files from sites; and when someone returns to a previously viewed page, the browser may get the files for the page from its cache (which it can do very quickly) rather than from the website (which can be slow). Ideally, a browser would check the dates of the files on the site, and use the files in its cache only if they are up to date, but browsers do not always do this. As a result, a browser may show an old version of a page, or worse, a version which has both old and new elements.

To make things worse, there may also be caches on the Internet: when someone views a page, the files for the page may be saved in an external cache, somewhere on the Internet, or even in several places on the Internet; and if someone views the same page afterwards, the browser may get the files from an external cache instead of from the website, so again it is possible for the browser to show an older version of a page, or a version which has both old and new elements.

Some browsers use their cache much more because this enables them to load pages more quickly than other browsers. Also, some browsers have options to control how much they use their caches, and the default is often to use them much more. Finally, some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) — for example, AOL — use external caches much more. As a result of all of this, some browsers are much more likely to show old versions of pages.

If, therefore, an update does not appear when expected, a client should try to force their browser to read the latest version of the page from the website. To do this:

  • Try to reload the page. Browsers typically offer a button, or a menu command, or a keyboard com­mand, to reload the current page. Some browsers even offer two types of reload functions, one which simply loads the page again, and another which loads the page without using its cache. Use the best reload function your browser offers. If the updates do not appear, try several times. I have found that, even when doing a reload without using the cache, it can take quite a few tries before the latest ver­sion of the page properly loads.

    To learn how to reload a page without the browser cache, see the Wikipedia instructions.

  • If the update still does not appear, empty your browser’s cache. All browsers offer a function to do this: and remember than Microsoft refers to its cache as the Temporary Internet Files. Then try to reload the page again: because the cache is now empty, the browser will have no old files to use, so the browser should show the latest version of the page unless there is external cach­ing, e.g. by your ISP.

  • If the update still does not appear, repeat the previous step several times: this will reduce the chance that an external cache is still providing old versions of the page. which is especially likely with some ISPs, e.g. AOL.

  • If the update still does not appear, try another browser.

If after all of this, the updates still do not appear, contact me.