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Modernist: Free WordPress Theme with Focus on Typography


Today we are glad to release a yet another freebie: a beautiful Modernist WordPress theme, designed by Rodrigo Galindez1 and released for Smashing Magazine and its readers. The theme is based on the design ideas of Jan Tschichold, Josef Müller-Brockmann, Dieter Rams, and other modernists. Beautifully built yet transparent, it was designed with a focus on optimal typography in order to better showcase your content: text, images and video.

The theme supports widgets, is SEO optimized, has clean and documented code. It is loading very quickly, and has various WordPress 3.0 features. Works in IE 6+ and all versions of Safari/Firefox/Opera. Includes CSS3 enhancements. As usual, the theme is absolutely free to use in private and commerical projects.

Download the theme for free! Link

The theme is released under GPL. You can use it for all your projects for free and without any restrictions. Please link to this article if you want to spread the word. You may modify the theme as you wish.


Features Link

The installation of the theme is very simple. No plugins required, no extra frameworks required. Just download the theme7, upload it to your server and activate it to make it work.

  • WordPress 3.0.1 tested. It works with the latest version of WordPress, and also with previous versions.
  • Embraces Social Media. Modernist has links to share each post to Twitter, Facebook, Delicious Digg, and Reddit. No plugins needed, it just works out of the box.
  • Is SEO optimized. Modernist has been carefully handcrafted in order to produce a clean HTML/CSS template. No unnecessary lines, just pure, semantical, bulletproof code that Google loves.
  • Supports widgets. Modernist has a widgetized sidebar, and WordPress’ default widgets are styled. You can also drop your favorite widgets or plugins without needing to touch a single line of code.
  • Has support for threaded comments, navigation for comments, table styles, header styles and definition lists styles.
  • Is flexible and extensible. Change the color scheme to suit your own taste. All the code is well commented. Personalize the theme by adding your own header or your own images in the sidebar. Use font embedding services such as Typekit to serve different fonts and make the typography look unique!

Homepage (large preview)9

Comments (large preview)11

Comment Form (large preview)13

Post (large preview)15

Search Results (large preview)17

Main Nav19


Thank you, Rodrigo Galindez. We appreciate your work and your good intentions.

You may be interested in the following related releases:

Footnotes Link

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The Smashing team loves high-quality content and cares about the little details. Through our online articles, Smashing Books, eBooks as well as Smashing Conferences, we are committed to stimulating creativity and strengthening the web design community’s creative forces.

  1. 1

    Wow, I really love how you can have a theme that looks beautiful just because of the typography. Makes you come back and think about the basics after focusing on image after image on a theme’s design.

    An absolutely beautiful work. The “carefully handcrafted by Rodrigo Galindez” must be an understatement! I wonder how much time it took to choose the fonts and set all the spacing!

    Thanks for providing this! It’s an inspiration!

    • 2

      I’m a bit obsessive with fonts. I started with Typekit fonts, but then decided to use just web safe fonts since it would be then easy to release the theme without any service/plugin hooks. This limited myself a lot. Lot of tweaks, legibility tests, font contrast tests, personal choices…

      Overall? 3 weeks of full work :-)

  2. 3

    Really nice theme, I cant understand how people can give these away for free though, they must be putting some serious work into them

  3. 4

    From the readme

    ‘The set may not be resold, sublicensed or rented. The set may not be offered for free downloading from websites other than’

    If you’re releasing this under the GPL license, all of these are allowed. You are contradicting the license by restricting these things.

  4. 5

    Themes like this really are about the content. Perfect for someone who has something to say. No distracting fluff to distract you.

    Nice design and good to see serif fonts being used. There is an app for the ipad called flipbook that displays rss, facebook, twitter feeds etc in a simple clean layout that strips the advertising, games etc and just displays the pure content.

    A joy, much like this theme. I just hope people decide to donate some cash to you if they decide to use it.

  5. 6

    if max-width of image set, please add “img { max-width: 100%; height: auto }”

    • 7

      Thanks! Just added this to the new version of Modernist (2.5). Vitaly has just uploaded the file, please download it :-)

  6. 8

    wonderful… Is it localized? If not… doesn´t matter, great work!

  7. 10

    No puede ser que sea gratis
    Muy buen Theme estaba buscando algo similar para un proyecto personal

  8. 11

    Wow, thats a great theme you got here.
    I shall be using it for an upcoming site im putting together for a friend.

    Thanks a lot!

  9. 12

    I’m sorry to ask it here, but it would be nice if the great folks at SmashingMag could make a tutorial on HOW TO use and insert a worpress theme in a normal DreamWeaver site… It must be easy (of course :-) but a complete receipe would be appreciated ! Anyone ? Thanks !

  10. 16

    The Power of minimalistic ;)
    I like it

  11. 17

    Thank you! Clear, simple, nice!
    Just what i’ve been looking for.

  12. 18

    Very nice theme.

    A Drupal port is on the way:

  13. 19

    nice one :D
    thanks for simple work

  14. 20

    Awesome, I like! :) Thank you!

  15. 21

    Wht the f**k happened to Joomla? Sh**t.

  16. 22

    Golly… if that’s not minimalistic, nothing is….
    Very good theme!

  17. 23

    There’s an orphan in the example screenshot’s first title, though. They could be using widont ( ) to resolve that.

  18. 25

    Really nice theme. Nothing better than a little typography on a clean background

  19. 26

    Thanks for sharing… very usefull

  20. 27

    After installing this theme, I get this error:
    “Warning: call_user_func_array() []: First argumented is expected to be a valid callback, ‘modernist_header_style’ was given …./html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 395”

    Any ideas how to fix this?

    • 28

      It looks like there’s a problem with your plugins (Modernist uses zero plugins). Can you try by deactivating your plugins or installing it in a clean setup? Thanks.

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    I’m just wondering if validation is important with these wordpress themes that are released. This one has 11 errors.

    • 31

      Version 2.5 is out with more validation fixes. Unfortunately I can’t fix them all, since those you are pointing are located in the core of WordPress (as in the comment_form() hidden inputs).

  23. 32

    Wow, this theme is great, thanks!

  24. 33

    Wow great theme and a great post.
    You learn something new and interesting everyday i guess. That’s the world of design that i love :).

    For some graphic design, enjoy-

  25. 34

    very nice template, i like their clean design.”less is more”

  26. 35

    I ran into a small problem with the theme – my site has a large number of pages which are listed across the top of the home page.

    I’m enough of a WordPress hacker to fix this myself, but it would be better if there were a way of using categories to determine which pages appear in this spot.

    • 36

      Same Problem here, but as a coding idiot, a can’t use this otherwise really nice and clean theme. How sad.

      • 37

        Problem solved. I asked a friend of mine to help me out with that. If you want to check out the Modernist theme without a dropdown navigation, just take a look at

        Great and simple theme, I like.

  27. 38

    I liked the above article.

    I want to ask as why do most web designers these days are focused on Font families and hardly pay attention font sizes. I would request Smashing Magazine to encourage web designers to use better font sizes, make it easily readable as even screen resolutions are increasing. Websites shouldn’t just be beautiful to look but also make us easily go through them and protect our eyes.

    In case if something is not so useful, then use some tools like tabs or accordions to hide that data but not with cost of poor font sizes.

  28. 39

    emrah serdaroğlu

    August 22, 2010 10:53 pm

    clean and smooth, absolutely nice!..

  29. 40

    thanks for the theme

  30. 41

    Oh! Really Fresh and simple!


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