All about Canva

Our Applications Advocates series continues as we explore Canva with Communications Officer, Laura Cook.

Laura tells us about main features of the app, why you might find it useful, and tips for getting the most from it.

Name of application


How to find and use it

Canva is a web-based tool which you can access at

It is free to set up an account (as long as you make it clear you are signing up as an individual rather than from a business during the sign-up process!)

It is possible to have a paid license (called Canva Pro), which gives access to more resources, in particular templates and a wider variety of images, gifs etc.

Of course you should always read the terms and conditions.

What it does

Canva is a graphic design platform, which has as broad a scope as your own imagination! You can use it to create anything from social media graphics, presentations and posters to logos, documents, teaching resources and graphs. It is built around the availability of thousands of ready-made templates, which can then be tweaked to suit your individual needs. Or you simply start from scratch by specifying your own dimensions and selecting from the vast range of ‘elements’ on the left-hand panel (for instance graphics, your own uploaded visual content, fonts, shapes and gifs).

How it looks

Canva – best bits and top tips

  • It can be great for generating ideas, as the range of ready-made templates is so vast. So if you want to make some data look more interesting for a presentation or a report but don’t know where to start, it will do some creative mileage for you by simply browsing.
  • Once you are in editing mode it will automatically open a new window, meaning you can be working on several projects at any one time.
  • It automatically saves content every few seconds, but there is also an ‘Undo’ button if you make a change and rethink it
  • It builds in the sorts of features you would expect if using paid-for graphic design apps such as Photoshop (such as bringing images forwards or backwards, resizing spacing between lines, letters or words and freely moving items around on a template) which makes it much more user-friendly than the likes of Microsoft Word for this type of activity.
  • There is no limit on how many designs you can create, but resizing is only available if you have a paid licence.
  • There are a range of formats that you can choose from when downloading your design, which you can select from based on your needs. For instance an image, PDF, or a web link.
  • You can include hyperlinks to external content by clicking on the three dots above your design template and selecting the link icon.

It’s a life-saver for…

  • Quickly creating something that visually packs a punch and feels more professionally made.
  • Generating ideas when you want to get creative but don’t know where to begin.
  • Appearing to be more skilful than you really are with graphic design (it’s a great cheat sheet!)

What makes it better than its closest competitor?

Visme is another similar tool, which is more focused on data for report writing and generating graphs. However I find the navigation is less intuitive and user-friendly than Canva, and there is a smaller range of templates available. Once you have played around on Canva, you can appreciate that the sky is the limit!

Do you have a favourite application?  

Get in touch and let us know. Look out for next month's advocate who will tell us about Jisc Online Surveys.