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Free ‘Starkers’ Wordpress theme

Article illustration for Naked Wordpress theme

UPDATE, 18.09.2008: Starkers has been updated for compatibility for WordPress 2.6.2. Please read (and leave new comments on) this post.

starkers |ˈstärkərz| [ adjective [ predic. ] informal chiefly Brit.; 1. completely naked : “they ran starkers across the stage!” ]

Whenever I create a new Wordpress-based site, I find myself going through the same routine: installing the latest version, making a copy of the ‘default’ theme, and then tearing out all the styling and unnecessary HTML before starting on my own theme. It’s a process many of you probably go through; at least those of you who make your own bespoke themes.

It dawned on me the other day that this is an incredibly laborious process and it was about time I did something about it. Wordpress is an incredibly well-written blogging engine and its standards-centric build is great, but it’s still full of markup that just doesn’t need to be there. It’s time to discard the robes and get naked!

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It’s worth noting that Darren Beale did something similar, but he still retained some basic formatting. My theme has no formatting whatsoever, meaning you have a complete clean slate on which to work. In fact there’s even some resetting done in the stylesheet, leaving you to build everything from the ground up and not worry about browser defaults coming into play.

For those looking for a beautifully-designed free theme, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place, but this will hopefully assist those of you who make your own Wordpress themes regularly.


  • All non-semantic, presentational class names removed (e.g: class="center", class="alignleft")
  • All non-semantic, presentational HTML elements removed (e.g: <hr />, <br />)
  • All unnecessary elements removed (e.g: <div class="entry"> disappears entirely; <h3 class="comments"> simply becomes <h3>)
  • Elements converted where necessary (e.g: <small> becomes <p>)
  • Code indentation / tabbing cleaned up to better represent nesting
  • Browser defaults reset in the stylesheet to give a true ‘clean slate’


  • This theme is provided ‘as is’, with no promise of support, although I’ll help out when I can.
  • If you do need support, use the comments area below. Please do not email me.
  • All functionality remains the same as the ‘default’ theme supplied with the WP installation (Wordpress v2.3.2 and ‘Wordpress Default’ theme v1.6 (by Michael Heilemann))
  • Dummies photo from iStockPhoto

I hope you guys find this useful. Please let let me know if you do by commenting below! I certainly plan on using it myself for the foreseeable future.

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