How to make your own Canva template
Canva is like Marmite to many people, designers the world over love or hate it. But for businesses of all sizes, it’s a complete game-changer. Within this post, I’m going to go through the basics of setting up a template specific to your business, which will save you countless hours. I’ll also explain some design basics that are important to keep in mind; such as colour options, contrast and spacing. These are the things I see most often being done wrong. For the purposes of this article, I’ll use the free version of Canva for the template. However, if you have the paid option you will simply have more options available to you.
First things first, go to www.canva.com or download the app on your phone to get started, signup or log in and we’re ready to go.
Setting up your brand colours and type
Before you get started, it’s a good idea to get your overall brand kit in order. Only the colour palette is part of the free package. The premium option adds logos and your font choices, which allow you to easily access your logo within each design and also set your own custom fonts. Canva also has an array of free fonts that you can access from within each new design, the beauty of setting up templates is that it will allow you to pick a consistent font, even if you can’t upload your own. Below you will see a screenshot of the Brand Kit page where you can access these settings. Adding your colours alone can help you save time by giving you easy access to your brand colours in the side panel.
Setting up the template
To set up a template in the free version of Canva is almost identical to the paid option; however, you will have to be a little more mindful when using it. All of the steps used have been shown below in the gallery, simply click the image to expand it.
The first step is to create a new design from the upper left corner (we are looking at the website for this but all of these options are available in the mobile app also). For Instagram, you want to make sure your post makes use of the space provided. I suggest a 1350 pixels tall, by 1080 pixels wide design. If you prefer a square design you can opt for 1080 by 1080 pixel design here instead.
Where to start
You will be greeted by a blank canvas to start with. Here I suggest adding your header and footer to begin with. This will remain the same for all of your designs going forward, enabling you to create consistency and brand name recognition. Your header and footer can be anything you want, but a good set of options is to add your name or business name to the header with your logo and contact or contextual information in your footer. In this design, I have added my name and business name to the header, with an image in the footer of myself accompanied by the business services and website.
To get the photo you can simply upload your photo, then from the side panel under “elements” search for “Frame”. This will give you a range of frame options, if you pull your photo over the frame it will drop inside the frame allowing you to change its size within it.
Use the text option to add basic text to create your header text, then select your brand font to keep this in line with your business. I find it easiest to simply copy and paste this for your footer and body text. If you create one text block for the template heading and one for the body text, you can style them slightly differently, e.g. selecting a different weight such as light and bold for each, or setting a header to upper case. Align these to the left of your page to match your header and footer.
In the free version, you can save this file to a folder and call it “Templates” this will allow you to copy this design file every time you want to start a new post. If you have the premium version of Canva you can save your design as a “Template”. Because you’ll be using a copy of the original post, you will be set up with your header, footer and basic styles such as background colour and font sizes etc. already in place. This makes getting started so much simpler and quicker.
- Create a document 1350px by 1080px
- Add text to create a header using your personal name or business name
- Copy and paste your header to create a footer. Include your contact details.
- Add a frame and insert your photo or add a logo as an image
- Copy your header to create a title
- Copy and paste your title to create body text
- Make your title at least twice the size of body text
- Save your design as a template or within a new folder called “Templates”
In terms of your colour options, you are always best following your own brand guide. If you have hex codes you can easily add these when selecting colours. In terms of colour contrast, you want to make sure that any text stays legible against your background. A medium tone background with a slightly dark or light text can be hard to read. Equally when text overlaps a pattern or image it can make your text hard to read. Below we have examples of some don’ts with examples:
- Don’t use a light text against a light background
- Avoid a dark text on a dark background
- Don’t use complex patterns or images behind text
When it comes to your text you want to think about size hierarchy and contrast. keep all of your paragraphs and bullet lists etc. the same size, with headings at double their size at a minimum. Often you will want to have titles that are actually 3 to 4 times larger than your body text. This helps create impact and hierarchy allowing your readers to understand the importance of your information. As an example, you may have body text set to 42pts and top-level headings set to 126pts, with secondary headings in-between at 84pts.
- Create a distinction between headers and body text
- A heading that is at least double the size of your main text helps create distinction
Spacing between your elements is often an area that is overlooked but makes a massive difference. You can layout your template in a variety of different ways, but clear spacing helps everything look super polished. While you’re moving elements in Canva, you will be shown a line that lets you know if things are lining up. On the examples below, we can see a left-aligned template where everything aligns to the same left edge. When you have a staggered look, with text or images appearing to not align to the same edge, it creates an unpolished and unfinished look to your post. If you centre everything you will want to align these elements to the centre of the board instead. no matter which style you choose you want to make sure you leave space around your different elements, let them all breathe.
- Keep everything away from the edges of the page
- Choose an alignment style and align your elements to it
- Left aligned is easier to read for longer text
- Don’t try to fill every part of the page
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