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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 Galindez 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 theme3, 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)5

Comments (large preview)7

Comment Form (large preview)9

Post (large preview)10

Search Results (large preview)12

Main Nav14


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

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 24, 2010 11:12 pm

      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


    August 21, 2010 2:26 am

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

    • 7

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 24, 2010 10:55 pm

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

  6. 8

    Jörg Hennicke

    August 21, 2010 2:29 am

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

    • 9

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 24, 2010 10:54 pm

      Not yet! But you can modify it and it will sure be added in a future version :-)

  7. 10

    Albeiro Ochoa

    August 21, 2010 4:00 am

    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

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 24, 2010 10:56 pm

      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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  22. 30

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

    • 31

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 24, 2010 11:03 pm

      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

    Bratu Sebastian

    August 22, 2010 2:17 pm

    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!

  31. 42

    Nilesh Mhatre

    August 23, 2010 4:53 am

    very nice article, thanks for such information its help when creating wordpress theme

  32. 43

    the theme is awesome! but feedburner cannot detect a valid xml?! anyone with similar problems?

    • 44

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 24, 2010 11:05 pm

      flo, I didn’t test with Feedburner, but I just subscribed (with Firefox) and double checked the RSS feed and seems it’s working normally. Maybe it’s a plugin issue?

  33. 45

    Awesome! I Love it! Use it on my pers. Weblog!

  34. 46

    Love it!

    Just one question….how do you get the buttons to work? tried looking for the class but cant see it anywhere?


    • 47

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 24, 2010 11:01 pm

      Mark, the CSS code is at line 590 of style.css. It uses a semi-transparent png, plus some CSS3 enhancements to produce a faux-button. Just reuse this code for any button you would like to style.

  35. 48

    David - Web Designer

    August 24, 2010 6:33 am

    Thanks guys, really nice mature design.

  36. 49

    I was a bit amazed that it didn’t have a home page link on the top nav bar, or did i miss something

    • 50

      Rodrigo Galindez

      August 25, 2010 10:22 am

      Andy, the page title is the home page link :-)

      • 51

        I know that and you know that.

        I’m spending my days designing for old people so I guess I’m just hung up on their constant bleating about home page links, sorry for dumping my troubles on you ;(

      • 52


        But when I change the title into images (header), there is no home link – of course I did disable the title (for aesthetic reason). I wish the header images has click-able option and alt element.

        And just for a suggestion, I found the theme a little bit lack of navigation menu, like the previous and next post on single post page (except for homepage and archives, it already has previous and next page button/click-able link), is there any specific reason for this?

        On the demo page, I see a sample of threaded comment, but I don’t find it (how to reply comment) on the ver. 2.5 after I installed it. Or did I miss something? Well, though I prefer comment system without threaded comment. I wish I can add reply button on the corner, but doesn’t give me a threaded comment style.

        And there would be nice if I can see a stylish drop cap on this theme :).

  37. 53

    Still needs improvements.

    – 1px line above block, not image
    – some looking glass icon in search text field
    – no border for comment picture
    – spacing between list elements
    – links hover states too similar to normal state
    – byline in comments can be lighter
    – no form focus states
    – overdesigned buttons
    – no all caps block headers, maybe small caps, same color/font as headline
    – content and sidebar could be visually separated by thing doted gray line, super light

    • 54


      when you say improvements don’t you mean stuff you would change.

      I don’t think they have blocked access to the css sheet, why not dive in and change it, that lot would take about 20 minutes to alter.

      The only improvement or customisation I did was reduce the top margin from 160 to 100px.

      • 55

        No, these are UX improvements, optimization and trying to follow style started… all points objective.

  38. 56

    Great blogs, lots to learn from this guys.
    Quick question for any one who commented, have you done any blogs yourself? Do you have design/technical expereince? I’m looking for freelancer who could help me with some blogs, if you are interested please get in touch kristina @

  39. 58

    Themes like this makes me wanna start a new blog! Ha!

  40. 59

    Looks good. When I installed, it squashed my photos. Not happy about that.

  41. 60

    Amazing Theme! Well done!
    I liked it instantly!
    Thanks! ;)

  42. 61

    The WORST premium theme I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

    Your QUALITY is becoming so worst now a days.

  43. 62

    I love this theme.. Simple superb..

  44. 63

    The theme is pretty awesome. I am already using it on my blog.
    There is an issue though with comments: when I reply to a comment I click “Reply”, the comment form doesn’t appear below the comment I want to reply to, but it reloads the page and takes me to the top.

    Thank you.

    Keep up the good work.

    P.S. I would like to see WordPress 3.0 Menus support on a future version.

  45. 64

    Oscar Martell

    January 9, 2011 9:15 pm

    I love this theme, for its minimalism and simplicity. I took the time to make some small modifications to use on my site.

  46. 65

    I have an issue: I loaded a logo in the header area and I want it to link my home page. Any ideas?

  47. 66

    Thanks for the share.. Im using it now on my sub- blogs. Again, Thanks..

    Louie Sison

  48. 67

    I did a version of this theme for Tumblr with Rodrigo’s permission but the Tumblr crew didn’t find it suitable. I think this is really annoying since I can’t really figure out what their problem is. Feel free to check it below and install to your new blog though.

    Here’s a demo:

    And here’s the install page:


  49. 68

    Wow nice theme bro, background is very similar to the theme that I use now.

  50. 69

    John Moore Williams

    March 17, 2012 5:28 am

    The first related post link 404s

  51. 70

    nice theme. unfortunately not compatible with WP 3.6


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