RootsWeb FreePages Banners and XHTML Doctype

UPDATED: February 2013

RootsWeb masthead banners are displayed on all free hosted websites. If you are using the HTML Transitional doctype and your pages already validate, you should experience no problems with the banner validating.

If on the other hand, your account is hosted on any of the Rootsweb servers and you are using the XHTML doctype, your pages will NOT validate because of the banners. Good News, there is a “fix.”To change the banner code so that it will validate if you are using the XHTML doctype create a file named “banner_select” containing only the text: XHTMLNeutral and nothing else. The file should be a plain text file and the file name must NOT include a file extension, i.e. do NOT name it banner_select.txt or banner_select.html

  • Upload the file to your misc_html directory for FreePages server.
  • Upload the file to the public_html directory for www, homepages and virts accounts.

If you are using the File Manager –

  1. Sign in to your account with FileManager
  2. Enter your username and password
  3. Select the misc_html directory for FreePages sites Screenshot RootsWeb File Manager.
  4. Click Enter File Manager
  5. Scroll down to File Upload Utility
  6. Browse to the banner_select file on your computer > Select It
  7. Click Send Files

This will change the banner code for your entire Freepages account, e.g. family_html, genealogy_html, military_html, etc. as well as misc_html. If your system will not allow you to save or upload a file without a file extension, upload the file with the extension as required by your system, then rename the file on the server. File Manager can be used to rename the file without the file extension or your ftp program.

XHTMLNeutral is actually just one of four banners you can choose from; you can use any one of the four following words in your banner_select file to choose different banners.

  • BasicNeutral [the default; it validates as HTML 4.01 Transitional]
  • XHTMLNeutral [validates as XHTML 1.0]
  • BasicGreen or XHTMLGreen [as above, but with green backgrounds]

If you are using one of the specialty banners (USGENWEB WORLDGENWEB CANADAGENWEB, or USGWCENSUS), these have not changed. You will have to decide between the specialty banners and XHTML validation.


  1. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the
    eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and
    visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?
    Superb work!

  2. Hello Patricia Geary,
    I see the last entry was in 2013, in your Q&A, so I am hoping you will receive this question. Been a Rootsweb and Freepage user for over ten years. Several days ago, July 11, 2016, I find that I can not log into the file manager or use the FTP transfer program. Has another layer of security been implemented or a major change in the login protocol? Any direction or help will be most appreciated.
    David Stuart
    Wichita Kansas


  1. […] RootsWeb FreePages Banners and XHTML Doctype By Patricia Geary RootsWeb recently revised the masthead banners that are displayed on all free hosted websites. If you are using the HTML Transitional doctype and your pages already validate, you should experience no problems with the new banner … Genealogy Computer Tips & Tutorials – […]

  2. […] Those of you with genealogy websites that are currently using the free servers on RootsWeb, you can also use the free templates to learn CSS. As you are aware, Rootsweb will add banners to the top of your page. All of my templates are written using an XHTML doctype which will NOT validate on the Rootsweb servers as is. Read RootsWeb FreePages Banners and XHTML Doctype. […]

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