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How to use Canva: Mastering the Basics

Canva is a graphic design platform where you can create templates, social media posts, and other documents. In this course we'll teach you a little more about Canva and how to use it.
Esther Van den Eynde
Last Updated
October 22, 2021

Canva is a graphic design platform where you can create social media posts, presentations, documents or any marketing materials. It's an accessible platform, for which you don't need to have a graphic design background. There's both a free and paid version. The app offers a lot of different templates, images, graphics and many elements you can use to create your own designs.

Why should you use Canva?

Create the best social media visuals

What image or visuals to post on your social media isn't always easy to figure out. Canva makes this a lot easier for you. You can use pre-made templates and customize those towards your brand identity, using your brand colours, font and logo.

Canva gives you the opportunity to easily resize your visual to match the different social media networks, as each have their own ideal dimensions.

You don't need a graphic design background and you can use a lot of different features such as images, fonts, templates, stickers and animations.

Canva Pro offers the possibility to include your own brand kit, making it very easy to customize all your visuals to your own brand.

Using Canva for all your visuals makes sure you can organise everything in one workspace.

Work as a team

Are you working with different people on your company's social media pages? Canva allows you to add team-members and work together on different templates. You can share templates to other people and everyone can edit them.

What's the difference between the Free and Premium subscription?

You can use Canva for Free, although it has a few limitations, there are still a lot of templates and elements you can use. The main difference between Canva Free and Canva Premium is the fact that you have much more images, elements and templates available. If you are looking to create all your marketing materials by using Canva, the Premium option might be better for you. An additional benefit in the Premium subscription, is that you can add your brand kit. That means that you can save your logo, font and colours and use it easily for every visual you create.

Aside from Free and Premium, there's also Canva Enterprise.

Some detailed information on Canva pricing can be found here.

How to use Canva?

Create an account

Creating an account on Canva is very simple, here are the steps to take:

  1. Visit
  2. Click on Sign Up, on the right top side and create a new account. If you already have an account, you can simply log in.
  3. You can sign up with Facebook, Google or by E-mail.
  4. You are ready to start using Canva.
Canva Signup

An overview of the tool

Canva is quite straightforward and easy to use. You can easily create a new design by clicking the button 'Create a design' on the right top side. Are you looking for a specific template such as an Instagram Story, an infographic or a customer testimonial post? Simply enter your search in the Canva search bar at the top and you can start designing from there.

On the right side, you have a navigation menu which allows you to navigate to your designs, the designs that were shared with you, your brand kit (Canva Pro) and your content planner.

Overview of Canva tool

Choose the right dimensions

To start, choose the right dimensions for your design. Click on "Create a design" in the top right corner.

  • Select one of the predefined dimensions by typing in the search bar, e.g. "Instagram post".
  • Or use custom dimensions by clicking on “Custom size”.
Chosing the right dimensions in Canva

It may be tempting to post the same visual on all the different social media channels. However, the images will not show up properly. We recommend always changing the dimensions for Instagram vs. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

These are the recommended sizes for image posts according to the platforms:

  • LinkedIn: 1200 x 1200
  • Facebook: 1200 x 1200 (square) or 1200 x 630 (landscape)
  • Instagram: 1080 x 1080
  • Twitter: 1024 x 512

Canva Pro feature: A very useful feature in Canva Pro is "Copy & resize". The visual will be copied into the correct size automatically. The different elements in your visual will only need some tweaking. On the right, you see an example of the original template (top) and the resized template for LinkedIn (bottom).

Copy and resize feature in Canva

Pick a template or start designing from scratch

Unless you have a specific design in mind or are already skilled in design, it's best to start out using the templates Canva provides. If you want to design from scratch, this tutorial by Canva can be helpful. There are hundreds of templates to choose from, categorized per social media platform. Click here to find out how to find the right template.

You can access the templates in three ways.

  • "Templates" in the top left corner
  • "Create a design" in the top right corner
  • In the header of the homepage
Templates in Canva

We picked this template to design a quote visual.

Design template for a quote

Choose your elements: background, illustrations, images, text

When you are in the editor mode of your design, all elements are accessible in the left toolbar. You can access Templates, Elements, Uploads, Photos, Text, Audio, Video, Logos, and More.

Background and images

The background for your design could be a color or an image. More on uploading images here.

  • If you want to add a photo to your design, try using one of Canva’s frames. You can find these under “elements” in the side panel. To choose a photo, search Photos or upload your own. Then drag and drop your image onto the grid or frame: it will snap to fit. Double click and drag to reposition.
  • To choose a color for the background, click on the area and click the Color Picker tool in the toolbar at the top of the editor.

In the tutorial below, we show you how to drag and drop an image into a frame and change the color of the background.


The best tip here is to keep it simple. Don’t overload your design with too many elements, as it can confuse the visual message of the image.

In this tutorial, we deleted the border at the bottom to avoid clutter. You do this by selecting the elements and hitting the delete of backspace button. Next, we used our own branded quotation marks and logo and adjusted their size accordingly.


Next step is to add text. You do this by selecting the text in the textbox and typing or pasting the desired text. To change the font and colors, access the top left of the editor. Adjust the size of the textbox as you go. More on adding and removing text can be found here.

Download and use on your socials

Add the finishing touches and you're ready to download your design! Click on "Download" in the top right corner and select the desired file type. Visuals should be downloaded in JPG or PNG format, video's should be downloaded in MP4 format. PDF and GIF files are not supported.

Next, click on "Download". Now you have your visual ready to start posting on social media 🎉

Download Canva design
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