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An achingly simple WordPress theme without all the usual cruft.


Tersus is an exercise in publishing template minimalism.

Why create yet another theme? Well, as clean and stripped down as some themes are, we wanted to prune things a bit further.

Tersus was originally named Simplicity — a term that described exactly what the project was all about. However, that was prior to the discovery of a WordPress theme already using that very name. After a brief discussion, several Latin terms were bandied about as replacements. Tersus (which means ‘clean, neat, or cleansed’) seemed to fit the bill rather nicely — and here we are.

A version of Tersus is being developed for Tumblr and is also available on GitHub.

Keep track of Tersus development on Twitter.


  • WordPress 5.0 or later
  • PHP 7.0 or later


  • HTML5 structure and compliance
  • CSS that has been reset and built from the ground up
  • Non-semantic, presentational markup has been dispatched
  • Built-in theme options for navigation, sidebar, footer, and announcement text
  • Two widget-enabled sidebar areas
  • Responsive, adaptive layout for small screens
  • Clean, valid, and awesome
  • WordPress Theme Review Process compliance

Child Themes

By removing the majority of the presentational markup and other cruft from the Tersus parent theme, we’ve opened the door for child themes to pick up the aesthetic slack. There are currently three child themes being developed for Tersus.

Version History

See the version history for a complete list of changes between releases.


Tersus is brought to you by Chris Harrison, Grant Hutchinson, Dan Rubin, and Andy van der Raadt.

Lovely chaps, all of them.

The groundwork for Tersus was based on the Starkers theme created by the affable Elliot Jay Stocks.

We’d also like to give some props to the fine individuals and handy resources which have made the development of Tersus much more enjoyable. Currently on the guest list are Grettir Asmundarson, Beau Calvez, Adam Chamberlin, Daphne Preston-Kendal, BBEdit, CSS Lint, GitHub Desktop, Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, and Theme Check.



The Tersus theme is absolutely free and conveniently licensed under GPLv3. You may use it for personal or commercial projects, as you see fit. Please refer to the license included with the source for more information.

Copyright © 2010–2023 Chris Harrison, Grant Hutchinson, Dan Rubin, Andy van der Raadt

The Normalize.css stylesheet included with Tersus has been made available under an MIT License.

Copyright © Nicolas Gallagher & Jonathan Neal