Extricate: a brief introduction

February 10th, 2012

You’re looking at Extricate, a grid-based, minimalist WordPress theme for writers, bloggers and journalists.

If you want to get your hands on it, you can download it here. But first, maybe let me tell you all about it. These points all link to separate posts, so you can either get all this info by just keepin’ on scrolling, or go to the individual posts…

Most important of all… Extricate ain’t finished yet! There’s more coming soon. If you end up using Extricate, please let me know and you’ll be added to the list of links in the sidebar. And if you have any suggestions about what you’d like to see added to the theme, holla in the comments…

Aaaand… just to finish, here’s the part where I ask you for money. Extricate has taken a lot of time and effort to make and maintain. If you end up using it, you can show your love with a donation to support future development, via PayPal. I’ll be very happy to receive whatever you feel comfortable donating.

So, what are you waiting for? You can jump in and download the theme now.

All about the grid

February 15th, 2011

The Extricate theme layout is based on an elegant, intuitive fourteen-column grid. This structure will lend a graceful form to your content, but only because, under the surface, the layout is based on cold, hard maths. Let’s take a look.

Here’s how the layout looks on a small screen, like a MacBook Air (twelve columns wide):

Extricate grid

And now, here’s that same layout, but with the grid columns overlaid on top of it.

Each column is fifty pixels, and each gap is twenty pixels, giving a total of 820 pixels:

Extricate grid - columns

But that’s not all! The sides of the layout also include extra padding, which gets used when pages are viewed on a larger screen.

Extricate grid - columns (including 'ghost' columns)

However, the Extricate grid is not just based on columns; it also has rows, each forty pixels in height:

Extricate grid - top rows

So, putting that all together, we can see that the entire layout is underpinned by a strong, intuitive grid, allowing for pixel-perfect content placement within a harmonious, well-proportioned structure. Cool, right?

Extricate grid - columns (including 'ghost' columns) and rows

One of the practical results of basing the design on this grid is that it allows you to resize your content columns within the layout without breaking the elegant form of the page. Another is that it lets your content shine, allowing a variety of options for embedding images, videos and more, combining the practical with the beautiful. Ultimately, however, it’s up to you to make use of the grid as the underpinning for an awesome website, so please let me know what uses you come up with.

Using video and images in Extricate

February 13th, 2011

Extricate is great at presenting your content, and that includes images and videos, not just text. For example, say you wanted to post a nice soothing image of wind turbines in rural northern Germany (sized at 468 pixels wide to match the grid), well, then, that’d look a bit like this:

Wind turbines near Rerik, Bad Doberan, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Nice, right? Ok, so maybe you liked the wind turbines so much, you want to post a bigger image — how about 608 pixels wide? Still matches the grid, as long as it can use the full width of the post column. And it can, with the addition of the hang-left class to the image (go to image settings, then advanced settings, then simply add hang-left in the CSS class field):

Wind turbine near Stolzenhagen, Brandenburg

Very cool. But let’s suppose you also have some video. Let’s put it in, at a grid-matching 470 pixels width:

Or, by again adding the hang-left class to the video, let’s go big and embed it at a full-width 610 pixels:

Pretty sleek! Of course, there are other options for inserting your images and videos into posts — best to give it a go for yourself and see what suits your needs.

Share your content

February 11th, 2011

One of the more difficult things to get right, on any blog, is how to share content on social networks. Although there are many plugins available to add social sharing functionality to WordPress, they can be cumbersome to install, and difficult to fine-tune.

Fortunately, the Extricate theme has social sharing links built-in, allowing your work to be shared on TwitterRedditFacebookTumblrStumbleUponDigg and Delicious, without having to battle through any plugin setup or tweaking. When the feature is turned on, each post displays a row of icons giving links to share the post on these social networks:

Social sharing links

And, yes, if you don’t want any social sharing links on your work, don’t worry: simply turn them off in the theme options page:

Theme options - social sharing links

We’re widget-ready

February 8th, 2011

Extricate comes with two built-in widget-ready areas, in the sidebar and in the footer. The  sidebar can have as many or as few widgets as you like (and, of course, is also resizable), and the footer is optimised to have three widgets (but can have more or less if desired). Never go hunting through raw code again — just drag and drop to make your sidebar and footer look great.

So, in the sidebar, add whatever content you want:

Sidebar widget areas

And in the three widget areas in the footer, drop in whatever extras are needed:

Footer widget areas

WordPress offers hundreds of pre-prepared widgets to allow blogs to highlight various content, which are easily added through the widgets subpanel.

Some text options

February 7th, 2011

Block quotes:

A curmudgeonly gargoyle among preening pantomime rebels. The rabbit killer left his home for the club and said goodbye to his infertile spouse. I feel withdrawn. And I feared fear was making sludge of my head. Academic male slags, ream off names of books and bands. Like your psychotic big brother, who left home, for jobs in Holland, Munich, Rome. Nymphette new romantics come over the hill.

Block quotes within block quotes:

There’s no need to go berserk if you don’t scratch my nice blue Merc. The man whose head expanded knew, who stole cafe collection box. I’m away being refurbished. Haven’t you heard of me?

Recruited some gremlins to get me clear of the airline routes. I used to have this thing about Link Wray, I used to play him every Saturday. Your mystic jump suits cannot hide your competitive plagiarism. He sees jawbones on the street, advertisements become carnivores.

In the marble halls of the charm school, how flair is punished. Republic grim truth hot blood erupts, you’re like a pair of dogs loose in McGregor’s kiln. Carry bags strewn all around the room.

Ordered list:

  1. There’s a silent rumble, in the buildings of the night council
  2. Buffalo lips on toast, smiling
  3. Republic grim truth hot blood erupts
  4. Mirrors can’t hide the toxic of disfigured poxes
  5. Jingles! Cabaret! Merseybeat!

Unordered list:

  • His oppression abounds — His type is doing the rounds
  • I’m Joe Totale, the yet unborn son
  • This hideous replica!
  • Wireless enthusiast intercepts government secret radio band and uncovers secrets and scandals of deceitful type proportions
  • Leave the capitol, exit this Roman shell


body {
    background: #eee;
    color: #333;
    font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
    text-align: center;
#wrap-nav, #wrap-main, #wrap-footer {
    clear: both;
    border-top: 1px solid #666;
#wrap-nav, #wrap-main {
    background: #fff;

Headings (h1 through to h6):

H1: Insect posse will be crushed

H2: The fantastic is in league against me

H3: There is no mail in the house of contempt

H4: Suck on marrowbones and energy from the mainland

H5: On that fruited plain the corporate bishops graze
H6: I skin my cat with rubber teeth

Post options

February 1st, 2011

The Extricate theme comes with a couple of nifty options for formatting your posts. By default, every post displays an author, a list of categories, and a link to the comments:

Post metainformation

However, in the theme options, you can choose to remove the author and category information, if it suits your blog better… up to you.

Theme options: post options