Over the years I have written several articles on how to use Canva for your social media communications. As it is such a helpful free platform, I thought I would revisit the tool to highlight some features that will help you be more effective and efficient with your workflow when creating content for your internal or external communications, especially if you are new to using the platform.
This tutorial is based on the desktop bersion of Canva.
Note: The details below are based on using v1 of Canva – they have a v2 now availalbbe in Beta. As the 1.0 and 2.0 designs are not compatible at this stage, to convert a v1 design so it opens in the v2 interface once you are using v2, you will need to click on three dots in the upper right corner of the design and choose ‘Copy’. The copied version will open in v2 of Canva.
Since Canva was launched back in 2013, they have extended their templates in terms of formats for different design projects and have added a wide variety designs that are available to use – both free and paid.
How To Use Canva – A Step By Step Guide
Once you have created a free account in Canva, at the top of your screen you will see the option to create a design – click on the plus symbol to open up the different template formats from presentations to events, ads and social media posts.
In this tutorial I am using the ‘social media’ template which creates an 800 x 800 design – this is ideal your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter posts.
On the left hand side you will see template designs. Many are free but you will also see options that are paid. You can work with and adapt the paid designs and will not need to make a payment for them until you are ready to download the finished design.
You can of course use the designs as they have been developed, but I recommend you use them as inspiration and change the content from colours, to overlays and text to fit with the visual identify of your organisation and the story you are sharing.
As an example I used a template in this tutorial and changed the words and the colour of some of the font.
There are lots of free fonts that you can use:
1 – select the text you want to change
2 – choose the new font you want to use.
The design will be updated immediately.
You can change the size of the font by highlighting the text and on the top menu you will see the option to increase and decrease the font size.
You can also type over the number the the box if you want a specific size for your design.
If you find the letter spacing and line height in the template need to be adjusted, just click on the ‘Spacing’ feature on the top menu and adjust them using the slide.
You might find that you need to make the text box wider or narrower for your design – you can do this by dragging the dotted line around the text.
In the design template you may find that there are different overlays that have been added. Many of them will allow you to change the colour.
In the example in this tutorial I wanted to change the background of the overlay from red (see the image aove) to white (see the image below).
By clicking on the overlay I could easily select a suggested colour from the top menu, choose a colour for the overlay from the colour wheel or add the specific hex value. This last option is useful if you want to maintain consistency for your campaign with your brand visual identity.
You can also change the transparency of the overlay using the icon on the menu bar at the top right and then adjusting the transparency.
If you have several elements in your design from text to overlays, you can re-order them by clicking on the ‘Arrange’ button in the menu and then you can move the element firwards or backwards.
All changes you make will be saved automatically.
If you are creating a design and want to duplicate an element such as an overlay, an icon or text you can use the ‘Copy’ button on the menu bar.
If you need to undo a change you made to your design, you will see the option to ‘Undo’ in the top menu bar.
Alternatively, you will be able to click the ‘Redo’ button that is next to it if for example you undo too many steps.
Adjusting the position of the elements in your design is made easy as you will see grid lines so you can use this to help you to adjust the layout. Jst drag the element to where you want it to be positioned.
In the left hand menu, as well as being able to select different templates for your design, there are lots of additional features.
Click on ‘Elements’ and you will have the option to use elements including shapes, lines, icons and illustrations to your design.
If you have images that you can use in your designs, I encourage you to do that as you can upload your own images. I use this option each week for the images I create to share each week in the Live Stream Insiders show.
However, if you need to access copyright free images as you do not have any suitable images to use, you can search for photos to use in your design from within Canva. Within the Elements section you will see the option to access free photos.
You can also type in a word into the search bar to find specific content to use.
If you want to use multiple images in your design such as making a collage, click on the ‘Grids’ feature and you will be able to select which layout you want to use.
You can add text to your design by clicking the left hand menu bar, for example if you want to add text for a call to action in addition to the text overlays in your chosen design.
Canva also has text designs that you can use on your graphic – you can select the design you want to use and then replace the text and the styling of the text including the font that is used.
If you want to have a solid or patterned background to your image by clicking the ‘Background’ feature in the left hand menu. You will be able to select a specific colour to use or choose one of the patterns they provide.
Once you have finished creating your design and if you want to edit it further you can click on the copy feature on the right hand side which will duplicate the element.
If find this a helpful feature, for example, when I want to use the same template but want to review what some adjustments to the design might look like.
I also use this feature when creating images for a PowerPoint presentation and want to duplicate the page but add a different image or title for a slide.
A feature I find helpful to title my images ready for uploading to my site so that I am optimising them for search is to make sure I take the time to title the design.
You can change the title from the top menu bar.
Click ‘Done’ when you have updated the title.
Once you have finalised all your updates to your design you can now download the image and save it to your desktop.
If you have multiple images in your design, you can download them all as a Zip folder or just select the one image you want to use and choose the format – jpeg, gif or png.
If you subscribe to Canva with a paid account you will also be able to download an image with a transparent background. This is helpful for creating lower thirds for your live streams or icons and badges to add to your designs.
The paid feature also allows you to resize your images, for example, adjusting the square image I created to be an image suitable for sharing on Pinterest or even as a YouTube thumbnail.
I hope you find this a helpful tutorial on how to use Canva for your visual content marketing for when creating content to support your employee engagement campaigns.
This is just one of many tools I cover in my content marketing and social media workshops – contact me directly if you want to discuss how to develop a compelling visual content plan to support your internal and external communications campaigns.
How To Use Canva Tutorials
Find some of the articles and tutorials I have written about how to use Canva for designing your social media and marketing content here:
Discover how to create charts using Canva.