WordPress Blank Slate Theme

UPDATE 6-29-10: The blankSlate theme has been updated to be compatible with WordPress 3.0.
View the post about blankSlate2

Now that WordPress 2.7 has been released, I am ready to get started on the next major redesign of my site. Before I begin any new WordPress based design I take a copy of the default (Kubrick) theme and dump all of the styles, extraneous functions and extra mark-up, as well as add a general browser reset style sheet. I then go about my business of creating a theme that will display the information I want it to, the way I want it to look.

Over the past 6 months, I have been skipping this first step and just downloading Elliot Jay Stocks’ “Starkers” theme which was also a stripped down version of the default WordPress theme. Unfortunately the release of WP 2.7 has some new functions that I can’t be take advantage of with the Starkers theme. This being the case, and the fact that I don’t know if the good chap from across the pond will update the Starkers theme, I decided to go back to my old routine of converting the default theme to a “blank slate” on my own.

Since I went to the trouble of doing this, I decided I would also offer it up to anyone who might like to save some time themselves. Hopefully you find this useful. If you do, please feel free to download it and do with it as you please. It is completely free, with no strings attached except for one. If you find this useful and know someone else who might, tell them about it.

Changes to the default theme:

  • All styling removed
  • Reset stylesheet added
  • Any functions relating to the default theme have been removed
  • All presentational markup has been removed
  • Any class name that wasn’t useful to a new design has been removed

Disclaimer: This theme is offered for free, and “as is”. I will try to help out where I can though, so if you run into any issues, please comment on this post and I will do what I can to help. That being said, there is no warranty, or guarantee that I will be able to offer support.

Download the Blank Slate Theme here

Update: Kyle Skrinak recently contacted me about the Blank Slate Theme. Coming from a Drupal development background, he was accustomed to the Drupal Zen Theme and decided to make some modifications to the Blank Slate Theme to suit what he was accustomed to. He asked me if I would like to post it to the site for anyone else coming from Drupal to consider using. I think it is a great idea, and if you are interested you can Download it here.

The changes made to the original Blank Slate Theme in Kyle’s words: “I’ve incorporate some of the goodness I’ve come accustomed to in the Drupal Zen theme (which adds a few more nested divs — but gives some more control) I’ve also stripped out much of the blogging/RSS/who-posted-what noise, since that’s not the kind of site we do… Also, being visual, I’ve added some default page geometry, so it’s not really a true blank slate — and I’ve stripped out the sidebar. Talk about customization. Finally, I’ve moved the content’s position in the HTML so that content comes before navigation for SEO optimization. the HTML/CSS validates.”

Thanks to Kyle for submitting this modified theme. If anyone else would like to, drop me a line!

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23 Responses to “WordPress Blank Slate Theme”

  1. Shiny says:

    Thanks for this, just what i was looking for! :)

  2. Ricky says:

    Thanks a lot, you did a great job !

  3. York says:

    Thank you for making this available, Shawn. Much appreciated!

  4. thanks alot..i was looking for a blank 2.7 theme and could only find themes that seemed to be riddled with useless crap…u just saved me a good 10-20 mins..(we wont talk about the 40 mins i spent looking for a blank theme)…lol

  5. [...] Blank Slate (again, what I’m looking for, claims that Starkers does not comprehensively support [...]

  6. Kyle says:

    Very nice. I’m checking it out now, after investigating similar themes, like k2, sandbox and starter.

    May I ask a question? Why not have Meyer’s CSS included, rather than simply import it — he advocates rewriting it to taste. I’m asking to learn, not as a challenge. Also, there’s a good deal of Mac OS X file system detritus in the zip file.

    Thanks for doing this work and sharing it!

    • Shawn says:

      Kyle, glad you found some use for this theme!

      The reason I import the reset is simply so I don’t have to look at the additional code while developing. When you are ready to put the site, you should really combine all of your style sheets into one file to minimize the amount of HTTP requests. The file is actually included in the styles folder though, and I also would recommend changing it to something that better suits your purpose. Personally I usually remove the lines about tables since I don’t actually use them. I would rather save a couple bytes on the download.

      Sorry about the extra garbage in the zip file. I don’t actually know of a better method to zip my folders. If you have any suggestions I would be more than happy to check them out!

      • Kyle says:


        About the “._*” files that Mac stuffs into a zip archive — that’s one of my pet peeves about my preferred platform. I briefly talk on it here: http://www.skrinakcreative.com/wp/2008/04/macosx-annoyance-12484-ds_store-files/

        You can remove files from a zip archive with:
        zip -d blankSlate.zip __MACOSX/ __MACOSX/blankSlate/

        in Terminal.app

        I used blankSlate for http://vendgogh.com/ and I’m starting it up again for a non-profit site. I have some ideas for possible improvements — may I contribute my changes? Cool if not.

        • Shawn says:


          Thanks for the info, now I just have to remember to remove these every time I create a zip archive.

          Glad you got some use out of this theme, I would be curious to see what you do on the non-profit site as well. You are also more than welcome to contribute any improvements for this theme. I left a comment on your site, so you should have my email address. Feel free to send it over to me and I will gladly post it here and give you credit.

  7. paul says:


    thanks for this blank theme, I am just getting started with wordpress theme design, and it really helped me while getting to grasps with wordpress

    Just one question why does the alignright float left and the alignleft float right ?

    • Shawn says:

      Paul, glad I could help! To answer your question about the alignment, well that would be a mistake. It should be the other way around, hopefully everyone else who has downloaded the blankSlate theme has also caught this error and fixed it. Thanks for pointing it out to me! I have fixed the issue and the theme files have been updated.

  8. BLANKartist says:

    Cool – I’ll get on this right away. This could have saved me some frustration getting that older theme to work with 2.7.

  9. Kevin Althaus says:

    Thank you for this, it will save me heaps of time!

  10. [...] check the site out to learn more about the cause. I’ve forked Shawn Cope’s excellent blankSlate theme and plan to further develop this (and peek in on his changes) You can grab my mod fork from [...]

  11. [...] (In the video he mentions using “Starkers” blank theme … but since the video, WP 2.7 came out … and Starkers is lacking a few things. I chose “blank slate” (by Shawn Cope).) [...]

  12. This an Fantastic wordpress post, I will bookmark this post in my Newsvine account. Have a awesome day.

  13. Joey Mccane says:

    Whoa admin you have lots of wierd error codes on your page about parse error unexpected T String in line 17

  14. [...] those of you who aren’t already familiar with the previous version of the blankSlate theme, it is a theme that has been stripped of all style and structural elements. For me, a blank canvas [...]

  15. Aafrin says:

    Thanks a lot, was looking something similar to this… the theme simply great

  16. Yeah I tried out the starker theme and I ended up with a blank white page. So I tried blank slate and it works. Sweet! Now I got some work ahead of me. Thanks!

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