A while back I was experimenting with doing this three column layout via CSS. That way I’d have the actual content of the center column tops in the HTML and use the CSS to move the text into the columns on the side. Someone reading via lynx or other non-CSS browsers would see the content at the top, so it would degrade gracefully. That was the theory, but my CSS had obvious differences across the very first two browsers I compared, so I bagged the whole effort. I decided life is too short to track down intrabrowser differences in my CSS.
Well, I might renew that effort with the help of Layout-o-matic. It is a webpage that includes some controls to allow you to specify paramters on the layout and will generate the CSS for you. The claim is that they have done the work to chase down browser compatability issues, thus eliminating that need for users of this tool. I remain a little skeptible, but I’m willing to give this one more shot (and only one more.) If I go for it and don’t like it, I’ll revert to the tables and leave it like this basically forever.