Khoi Vinh and Allan Cole recently released an interesting WordPress theme called Basic Maths. Like Vinh’s own blog, Subtraction (which the new theme somewhat resembles), Basic Maths aggressively foregrounds the underlying design grid. In fact, you can even hit a shortcut key combination to superimpose the grid over the blog as you’re working on it.

It’s great that the authors have done so much to bring a grid design system to the web. In addition, they have enabled single-click color control, a clever approach to category and tag display, and a thoughtful archives page. I like the style sheet that enables a large number of different image sizes and placements, all oriented to the grid.

What isn’t entirely to my taste at both Subtraction and Basic Maths, however, is the very heavy reliance on rules to emphasize the grid. I guess I prefer my grids latent rather than in your face — sometimes these pages look like one of those puzzles where you have to move one match stick to make a different shape.

Still, a disciplined and versatile design with careful typographic functions, well implemented. The authors are selling licenses at the “introductory price” of $45.