I have noticed that most .edu domains have a very "academic" looking simple HTML websites (Do academics look down on well-designed academic websites?) for professors and departments. My graduate school follows a template for the main department website and the professors and graduate students upload their own HTML websites on their sub domains.

I was recently tasked with uploading a simple HTML website for our group's research page. I have created websites before but my advisor asked me to put in minimal effort as I am busy writing research papers right now and should not be spending a whole lot of time playing with HTML and CSS.

I have noticed that a lot of professors have the same minimalist design of HTML websites. I know professors are pressed for time and so will adopt a minimalist HTML template and tweak it.

My question is: are there known resources where free simple HTML templates are available that require no attribution? I found several HTML templates that require attribution (linking back) to original designer and I would like to avoid that as I need something very simple that I can tweak.

I understand that professors might be writing the HTML from scratch. But if someone knows of a template I could use, that would be great.

  • 3
    Some universities provide templates. But nevertheless you should be able to create a decently good looking web page in a few hours (I assume you'd have two or three hours to spare), right? Use publicly available templates and libraries (such as Bootstrap) and don't reinvent the wheel. Or even, just use Markdown and write a little bit of CSS. Well, computer science professors just write the HTML because it (programming) is (usually) part of their job, but you don't have to; you can even use Wordpress if you want. Again, don't reinvent the wheel!
    – xuq01
    Apr 13 '18 at 6:01
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    Maybe I'm not looking deeply enough, but a cursory Google search for "attribution free html template" yields a lot of promising-looking results. Is there anything particular that you couldn't find?
    – henning
    Apr 13 '18 at 6:21
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    "I have noticed that a lot of professors have the same minimalist design of HTML websites." - are you sure that "template" is not simply the default appearance of the documents without applying any further formatting after using a basic set (headlines, paragraphs, bullet lists, links) of (a) HTML elements or (b) commands from the professor's favourite WYSIWYG editor that can output HTML? Apr 13 '18 at 7:04
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    @O.R.Mapper or perhaps plain Bootstrap in case of younger professors
    – xuq01
    Apr 13 '18 at 7:20
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    @henning I did a lot of Google searching and those results are mostly clickbait, although they do look promising. Usually, attribution free means they require you to pay OR when you open an actual template it shows a CC3.0 or MIT License.
    – learnerX
    Apr 13 '18 at 15:31

When I was looking for a CSS style for my personal academic website, I got a recommendation to use Twitter Bootstrap. Then, I bascially ripped only the style out of it, but acknowledged them in the page footer.

As I just checked, you can directly link to their style without copying it locally and the code is licensed under an MIT license.


Why not use one of the templates with a CC or MIT license that you found? (Avoid Share-Alike unless it is only about the markup and not the content.) In academia, having proper attribution will be looked on favorably, and it's clear that the professor just wants it done. If you find a nice solution that you can attribute and tweak, your advisor will see that you worked efficiently, by not reinventing the wheel.

My guess is that academic pages not attributed to a template:

  • Are hand-coded from basic HTML or created as exports from editing programs (even Word does this), as OR Mapper suggested in a comment
  • Are part of a university-level template or CSS scheme after all
  • Borrow code in ways that one could argue should be attributed
  • Take someone a lot of time to put together (possibly university staff rather than the professor)

If there's an existing academic's page you really like, you can check the source code and see if that gives clues about how it was produced. (Human-readable with indentations probably means hand-written; lots of needless tags being opened and closed probably means a WYSIWYG editor. Sometimes a code generator will be mentioned in meta tags or comments.) Do not copy the source code, just see if it leads you to a workable answer.

If you truly want to be minimalist, you can also work from a resource like this HTML tutorial which in my mind would not require attribution.


One common method is copying the html source of someone else's page. If you're worried about ethics, you can always send an email asking for permission. If it's someone you know, the chance they'll respond is obviously higher.

A colleague once told (not asked) me that he had copied my html source, and my only reaction was feeling mildly flattered. My page is basic enough that it would have been laughable to ask for attribution.

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