Note: Some themes are marked ‘Subscription’ as opposed to being marked ‘Free’ or listed with a dollar amount. In these cases, the theme is part of a theme archive that requires a subscription.
LightWord is an advanced theme that incorporates a number of sophisticated UI elements. It also has a wide range of advanced technical aspects, including built-in support for AdSense, widgets and multi-threaded comments.
When it comes to a straightforward black-and-white two-column imageless design, few WordPress templates do it as well and cleanly as Fiver does. Under the hood, however, this theme is sophisticated and expandable.
Originally intended as a digital business card, zeeBizzCard has evolved into one of the tightest, professional WordPress themes available. In addition to the business card aspect, it has support for portfolios and resumes, and it has advanced features like post sliders.
Grid Focus Refreshed is one of the most powerful and purest black-and-white themes on this list. It is also very creative and innovative, and it does it all without using a single image.
For simple, minimalistic and black and white, few themes do it as well as iA does. This is simply the perfect choice for a readable blog that emphasizes content and deemphasizes everything else.
The zBench theme uses a straightforward light-on-dark design and a tabbed two-column structure. The tabbed system here is an excellent way to create a diverse site without using plugins and any other objects with overhead.
ASCII is an amazing minimalistic WordPress theme that recreates the style of Web logs and forums in their earliest forms. This template includes two distinct black-and-white configurations: black-on-white and white-on-black.
8. The News (Free)
The News is a superb black-and-white WordPress theme that effectively recreates the experiences found on PCWorld and other magazines like it. That approach emphasizes classic magazine approaches, but it works quite well in mobile environments too.
Easel is evidence that black and white on the Web doesn’t have to mean unexciting. This template does cheat a little with red in the header, but if you can look past that — or don’t mind changing it — Easel is one of the most graphically sophisticated monochrome themes around.
Greyed is an eye-catching black-and-white design that is graphic intensive. It has some red elements in the default configuration, but there is also an all black-and-white option. It’s a particularly excellent choice for websites that focus on outdoor activities.
Erudite is classy, simple and consistent, and it does it a lot with a little. It also takes a very creative approach to content display, and the fancy headers, line breaks and other items give it an elegant touch.
Gridline Lite is a superb theme that uses a grid-based layout and incorporates advanced features, such as post thumbnails, widgets and menu customization. There’s also a pro version that includes more features and support, but we found those extras to be superfluous.
13. Retro MacOS (Free)
Retro MacOS is a lot like ASCII in that it recreates an earlier time, this time with a Mac flavor. The only reason we don’t have this theme higher on the list is that it’s not easy to customize, and its current configuration may prove too constrictive for many developers.
The zeeSynergie theme is a perfect choice for a small business website. It supports, but doesn’t rely on, plugins and other advanced features, and it makes effective use of a two-column design. It even has a built-in options panel that lets you adjust the theme live.
Fantastic Flowery is a gorgeous two-column black-and-white WordPress template. It has a neat feature that lets the user change the site’s color base from gray to either green or brown. Implementers, however, can disable this feature if they prefer.
The developers of Codium Extended designed it from the ground up for customization and expansion. Fortunately, it works extremely well as a basic black-and-white theme in its default configuration. This is one of the cleanest two-column WordPress implementations we’ve encountered.
Xplosive Reloaded is a sleek and gorgeous theme that integrates two distinct tabbed menu systems as well as a right-hand multi-column side menu. By default, it does use some red in the header, but grayscale versions of those images are included.
Coraline is a simple two-column black-and-white theme with a tabbed menu interface and a side menu with multiple sections. Coraline does have some color by default — links and the header image — but those are easy to adjust for a complete black-and-white effect.
Suffusion is a sharp mixture of modern blog techniques as well as being a stylish black-on-white theme on a gray background. This theme’s claim to fame, however, is a powerful and innovative categorized and tiered side menu system.
Magazine Basic is a strong, full-featured magazine-style layout. Don’t let the “basic” in the name fool you: It’s fully customizable, and with a little effort, this theme competes with any of those expensive magazine layouts.
21. Gluttony (Free)
Gluttony is a widget-ready two-column design with rounded corners that uses a black, white and gray color scheme. The theme also uses tabs and clean menus, and it has a great deal of retro appeal.
The zeePersonal WordPress theme is an effective template that gets the best out of both high- and low-contrast black-and-white motifs by effortlessly combining them into a single design.
Arthemia is a stylish and modern two-column WordPress template that uses header navigation and other header elements to overcome the shortcomings of the standard two-column approach.
Galactica is an awesome white-on-black two-column WordPress template. The focus here is on readability, but it also has support for a wide range of advanced features. The included images do have blue accents, but you can adjust them to grayscale for an even better effect.
Viba is a classy and clever black-on-white design. Technically, it’s three columns wide, but in effect, it’s just two. The left column displays post headers, and that column actually collapses in environments that need the extra space.
The Writing theme is a fixed three-column black-on-white design that uses dark grays in the menus. This is an excellent choice for blogs that post numerous small news items throughout the day.
As the name suggests, this is a two-column black-on-white minimalistic WordPress theme. It does have support for widgets and other advanced features, but it works out of the box without them.
The Wind Cries WordPress template is an awesome theme for the classic blog. It’s a straightforward two-column design, but it’s not overly simple, and it does require that widget support be enabled.
Platform is an HTML5 and CSS3 theme using advanced drag-and-drop design. In terms of design approach, however, Platform is a throwback to a time when blogs were simple Web logs with nothing more than entries and a text-based menu.
30. miniBits (Free)
The miniBits theme uses a two-column approach with the header integrated directly into the content column on the left-hand side. This theme distinguishes itself from other minimalistic two-column approaches through clever quote support and other neat features.
Despite the name, Blue Zinfandel is one the most beautiful and effective three-column black-and-white WordPress templates in this list. It also works quite well in mobile environments, and it offers a wide array of options for customization and expansion.
The Frances Wright theme is a twist on the classic two-column template through the effective use of fonts and other HTML elements. All the fonts and other elements used here are completely web-safe across all platforms.
Duster takes the classic black-and-white two-column template and makes it a little more interesting. It does this through innovative use of positioning and some other clever techniques not usually found in basic black-and-white setups.
The Dropshadow theme uses an elegant two-column design, which is black on white and uses gray in the menus. This is an excellent choice for blogs that have an extensive archive of long articles.
Sometimes minimalistic means simple, but that isn’t the case with Monotech. This is a black-and-white text-heavy theme, but it’s feature-rich, and there’s a lot going on here under the hood.
Black Splat is a modern, three-column template that has numerous preconfigured areas for advertisements, such as banners, blocks, strips and text-based ads.
Black Vivi is a white-on-black/gray design suitable for almost any type of website. This theme has a lot of menu and navigation features, and it’s a great choice for blogs with years and years’ worth of content.
PressPurple is an excellent simple, one-column design that makes content very readable. This is a good choice for blogs that publish long articles or articles with numerous images.
Communitie is by far one of the most professional black-and-white WordPress themes available. That does, however, come with a fairly steep price tag, which is why we don’t rank it higher on the list.
Like Communitie, Atlantica is both very professional and relatively expensive. Whereas Communitie is set up for the traditional blog, however, Atlantic is more in line with the ultra-modern magazine style.
DJ WordPress is a bordered black-and-white theme that is very attractive and content-centric. It gets its name from the large DJ logo up top. Unfortunately, that logo is not easily replaced without advanced graphic skills.
As the name suggests, Iphonized began as an attempt to create an iPhone-themed WordPress template. The result, however, is much more than that, and it’s now an excellent option for any basic blog.
Traction is yet another magazine theme, but this one sets itself apart by going easy on the graphic-intensive design elements. It also has excellent thumbnail support and numerous other advanced features.
Grisaille is a basic two-column template with a design twist that makes it unique. It also has built-in support for mobile platforms, so you can build one site for all visitors. The default style is black on gray, but the theme includes a black-on-white profile as well.
Technically black on gray, Sutra is a WordPress theme that accentuates simplicity, readability and ease of use for the visitor in the form of basic yet effective navigation. Developers can easily transition this to black on white if they prefer.
Purity is a clean, minimalistic, image-centric design that is perfect for portfolio-style projects. It offers a wide range of support for various Web technologies, and the developers do an excellent job of expanding support through regular updates.
TwentyXS is a single-column theme that accentuates readability above all else. It also translates seamlessly across mobile platforms, and it has support for widgets and other advanced objects.
Inspired by MacZone, iNove is a stylish black-and-white Web log with widget support. This is an excellent choice for professionals, such as developers, who want to blog about their work or experiences.
Classic Theme is an amazing, inspiring and pricey example of how to take something as simple as the classic two-column blog structure and make it feel modern and fresh.
Modern is a free-flowing black-on-white WordPress design. It does get lost in the shuffle of the other minimalistic approaches somewhat, but it’s an excellent option for content-intensive blogs that generate many active multi-thread discussions.
With a name like the Azure Hut, this theme doesn’t sound very black and white, but it is, in all the ways that matter. It does use a left-hand azure-colored menu that provides excellent contrast, but the user can easily switch this to black to achieve a similar effect in full black and white.
The Citizen Kane WordPress theme is a magazine-style template with a classic newspaper motif. This theme makes effective use of space, and thus has a lot of room for content, images and ads.
53. Professional (Subscription: $39/year)
The Professional is an excellent theme for the business that needs its Web presence to focus on the company itself or a small portfolio. It has numerous built-in configurations, including multiple black-and-white color schemes.
54. Shelflife (Subscription: $39/year)
Shelflife is a superb e-commerce template for Web stores that want to give a great deal of attention to a single product at a time. The shoe store preview provides a great example of how effective this approach can be.
55. Levels (Subscription: $39/year)
The Levels theme is the premiere WordPress theme for car-themed sites. It includes built-in customization and profiles, and it’s so sophisticated that with minor tweaks it works for dealers as well as sites that specialize in auto-related news.
Ari is an excellent example of a minimalistic black-and-white three-column design. In a Blogger-like setup, this theme positions the profile on the left and the menu on the right, but the template makes it easy to repurpose the profile column.
The goal of the Fresh Ink Magazine template is to give the reader the impression of actually reading a magazine or book. It may not be the right choice for professional environments, but it’s an excellent choice for the personal or casual blog.
Shell is one of the premier professional blog templates, and it’s available for a wide range of platforms, including WordPress. Shell Lite is a free version of the template, but it’s not missing much as far as we can tell, and it’s a particularly effective SEO-oriented theme.
59. Documentation (Free)
Documentation uses a basic two-column structure, and as the name suggests, the developers have geared it for documentation, manuals, FAQs and similar content. A number of authors use this template to great effect for their blog-based books and short story collections.
DePo Clean is a basic two-column design, easily extendable to three columns, that favors free flow. We don’t rank it higher since it’s a bit sparse out of the box, but it’s perfect for those who want a clean minimalistic basis for their new black-and-white design.
Retina is a versatile and elegant magazine-style theme that achieves all of its distinctiveness through HTML and CSS. It does, however, include a wide range of support for plugins, widgets and the like.
The Raindrops theme is an extremely effective white-on-black design, and it boasts a stylish HTML-based menu system that really set this template apart from others like it.
Shiword is a stylish and efficient white-on-black design. The preview uses a green header and some blue links, but there is wonderfully gray default configuration included in the download.
64. Angus (Free)
Angus is an extremely professional yet free WordPress theme. This is a particularly good choice for service-based businesses, since it does a superb job of highlighting a small set of items.
65. Epic (Free)
Epic is an amazing template for showcasing photographs and other artwork. It supports an unlimited number of portfolios, and it has built-in support for numerous advanced Web technologies.
Although this template is much more subdued than the name would suggest, the design is black on white and uses a floating div to great effect. There is a splash of color in the preview, but one of the default configurations uses a one-tone grey background.
67. Margot (Free)
Margot is a straightforward two-column design that accentuates the content space. It does use a splash of baby blue, and the text is too small by default for our tastes, but the user can change those two items easily.
Custom Community is a WordPress theme framework with three predefined color schemes: black, white and gray. This is an excellent choice for those who want to build their own black-and-white theme, but don’t want to start completely from scratch.
Brilliance feels a lot like those default Blogger themes that were in style before Google added the theme editor. The theme includes grayscale image replacements, but it falls down our ranks because it doesn’t lend itself to customization.
Polished is by far one of the most sophisticated black-and-white themes available. It does an amazing job of mixing modern magazine-style elements with a classic approach to the content itself.
HemingwayEx is one of the most creative white/gray on black themes in this list. The bottom-oriented navigation elements are somewhat outdated, however, and reconfiguring them is no simple process.
Nest is a pure black-and-white HTML5 theme that uses all HTML elements to create its distinct style. It also boasts a lot of support for modern Web elements, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Fashion Blog is a professional-grade WordPress framework. Don’t let the name fool you. This theme is appropriate for a wide range of endeavors, including magazine-style sites and e-commerce solutions.
Picture Perfect is a wonderfully traditional website structure for WordPress. In other words, this is a theme for WordPress when you’d rather your site not look like a WordPress blog.
PressWork is a modern theme that works hard to put a lot of content on a single screen. It’s a little busy, but it’s an excellent option for a website that must work across multiple platforms, including mobile ones.
In all fairness, Grey Opaque uses more gray than anything else, but it has enough black and white, and it’s too nice a free theme to leave off the list. In addition, using a grayscale image filter, the user can adjust it more towards black.
Blaskan uses the design approach that more is less. It may seem a little lightweight for traditional browsers, but this lets you create one site that is available from the desktop, tablet, smartphone, TV or even the refrigerator.
Mantra is a sexy WordPress template that uses white, black, gray and smoke effects to great purpose. This blog has a number of sophisticated features including tabs, advanced menus, widgets and so forth.
Modicus is an extremely popular black-and-white Blogger theme. Modicus Remix was a WordPress port. Modicus Remix 2.0 is the next evolution of that port, refined and packed with a wide range of features.
Glider is a stylish book-themed approach with black-on-white content areas and grays for effect. The theme does use splashes of other colors, but there are grayscale versions available for all images.
81. Kiana ($13)
Kiana is a superbly professional theme that works equally well in mobile environments. Best of all, it’s relatively inexpensive. But much of its appeal rests on the integrated logo, so your mileage may vary.
ChaosTheory is a right-side-oriented, high-contrast theme with advanced menus and built-in navigation tabs. It does use baby blue link accents, but that is easy to change for those who want a purer motif.
Landscape Child is a top-shelf professional framework intended for use by a graphic design studio or similar enterprise. Since most such studios develop their own, this one may be overpriced, but it’s too exceptional to leave off the list.
Hybrid is a user-friendly black-and-white theme optimized for search engines. It also includes 15 custom page templates, numerous built-in widget areas and a wide range of other advanced support.
Atahualpa is an extendable theme that supports both fixed and flexible width layouts. The primary goal of this theme is to pack as much information as possible onto a single screen, which makes it an excellent choice for news aggregators and the like.
The free Platform WordPress template appeared earlier on this list. These advanced versions provide a number of additions, including support, at a price. Most people will do fine with the basic edition, but this may be the right choice in commercial environments.
Parament is a sharp, modern WordPress theme. Although it’s technically grayish-blue on black, it achieves a similar effect, and the user can easily change the text to white to achieve even more contrast.
Thematic is a black-and-white WordPress theme that puts the focus on SEO readiness. It does seem a little light out of the box, but there’s built-in support for widgets, menus, short codes and a wide array of other features.
The Morning After is one of the original magazine-style WordPress themes. It does show its age to a degree, but it’s still a great theme, and with a little creativity, you can make it unique and modern.
Sliding is a black-and-white e-commerce theme that is perfectly suited to displaying a wide range of items, such a clothing line or an array of hats. This is a superb professional design with a price tag to match.
Absolum is a clean WordPress theme with a two-column design and a button-based navigation strip. The menu is particularly attractive, setting it apart from all the other similar configurations.
Brunelleschi is a stylish, up to date theme that puts a great deal of emphasis on typography and readability. Despite its simple design, it’s highly customizable and extendable, and there’s no other theme quite like it.
Portfolio Press is a black-and-white WordPress theme intended for showcasing photographs, artwork, websites, or any object that you can display in a thumbnail format. It even has support for multiple portfolios in the default configuration.
The iFeature 3 theme uses HTML5 and CSS3 to create a black-and-white minimalistic theme framework that uses a wide range of Apple-like visual cues. This is a great theme for blogs that will center on iPads, iPhones and similar devices.
Fontella is a very clean, minimalistic theme that provides an excellent springboard for customization. If you plan to use it as is, it has too much open space for our taste, but that may be right for blogs with large logo images.
The sImpress v2 WordPress theme is a port of an old Blogger theme. The theme is minimalistic, and it has an unusual layout, which is why we include it. The preview shows green elements, but the theme itself includes a colorless configuration too.
Sharpfolio is a clean theme with two setups that contrast black-on-white content with a white-on-black background. Users can easily strip the content section for a full white-on-black effect. The colored images in some of the previews are optional and not included by default.
Personal Press is one of the most uniquely stylish and modern black-on-white themes available. We’d rank it considerably higher if it were not for the required annual subscription.
Overstand is a two-column black-and-white theme that preserves a lot of area for content. It was a little ahead of its time, and a little behind the times now. But it serves as a great basis for custom work.
The eNews theme by ElegantThemes is another take on the news-oriented style that is so popular these days. This is a clever implementation, and we’d rank it higher if it weren’t for the subscription model.