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Are there any good themes that follows all the best practices, to the letter, that I can refer to will creating my themes?

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Just create a child-theme based on the 2011-theme (the current WP default). –  feeela Sep 16 '11 at 9:40
    
I'd be interested in knowing what the theme building "best practices" are. Usually, you see mentions of what not to do. Is there a list of "10 Things to Do When Building A WordPress Theme"? –  Ray Mitchell Sep 16 '11 at 9:58
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Depending on what you mean by 'best practices' it can be very subjective. Clean semantic code, lightweight, using proper template tags, etc are all best practices. So looking at a theme like twentyeleven is a great start. If it ships with WP, it must be a good example of what they currently consider best practices. –  Rev. Voodoo Sep 16 '11 at 11:06
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I would consider the WPORG Theme Repository Theme Review Guidelines to be (currently) the most comprehensive list of "best practices" for publicly released Themes. –  Chip Bennett Sep 16 '11 at 12:42
    
Also, leaving this as a comment, rather than an answer, so I don't appear to be spamming/plugging my own Theme: I developed the Oenology Theme specifically to serve as a tool to help other developers learn to develop WordPress Themes, and to serve as an example of implementation of all best practices. –  Chip Bennett Sep 16 '11 at 12:44
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WordPress's Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven (which both ship with Core as of this writing) are most "official" themes. There's also the recently released "underscores" or "_s" theme from Automattic. Twenty Twelve will come out with WordPress 3.5 and is made by The Theme Foundry, which I think quite highly of.

There are lots and lots of good themes, but I'd recommend starting with the ones written by the people who make WordPress.

=== EDIT: If you want to modify Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven, make sure to do it using a child theme so that your changes aren't lost when those themes receive updates. However, _s is intended to be a starter theme and NOT a child theme, so for that one, take all the files and turn them into your own theme.

=== EDIT II: And of course, now there's Twenty Twelve.

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There are a lot of starter "blank" themes to play with. Personally I'm quite happy with the Toolbox theme, it's minimalist, semantic, HTML5 theme with all the default WP pages (if that's what you consider "best practice")

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I would NEVER start ANY search for WordPress Themes via Google search. (Though, I will admit that the results for your query string appear to be hugely improved from a few months ago.) Note: there are related WPSE questions regarding "starter" Themes; e.g. here and here. They'd be a great place to start. –  Chip Bennett Sep 16 '11 at 14:35
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