writers resources

How to Use Canva in Your Writing

canvaNo one disagrees with the importance of the visual in communicating. The problem usually is creating it. Most writers are great at wordsmithing, but not so good at matching colors, picking fonts and font sizes, and then laying everything out artistically. It’s much easier to leave the artistry for the artists. When Microsoft Publisher came out over twenty-five years ago, it was the first major desktop publishing effort to make it easy to blend layout, colors, and multimedia. Unfortunately, it was (and continues to be) an expensive piece of software not traditionally included in Microsoft’s Office Suite (though that changed with Office 365).

Say hello to Canva. It’s web-based (including apps available for iPads and Chromebooks) with a drag-and-drop functionality that makes the design process simple and intuitive. You can create professional presentations, posters, multi-page documents, marketing materials, social media graphics, and more using Canva’s more than 1 million photos, icons, and layouts, each with colors and fonts coordinated into attractive schema easily accessed by both beginners and reluctant designers. There’s no cost when using the thousands of free illustrations and images in the Canva library or uploading your own. For a small fee (usually $1.00), more than one million professional stock images and graphics can be used on a pay-per-use basis.

Once a template is selected, many projects can be completed in five minutes:

  • edit text
  • add relevant pictures
  • save/publish

Here’s how it works:

  • Sign in with your Google account or create a separate FREE Canva account.
  • Select one of the over fifty-six categories such as presentations, posters, greeting cards, infographics, and cover pages.
  • Select a category template that fits the project.
  • Replace text and images.Optionally change colors, size, layering, and more.
  • Save/publish/share.
  • Extras include:
    • themed elements
    • more text
    • more images
    • your own uploaded images

If you have never designed graphically before, start with the free Design School with how-to instructions on many projects and skillsets.

Here are several projects that are perfect for writers:

Banners for social media, blogs

Create professional-looking banners for your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or lots of other social media. Here are examples I created. They took less than 15 minutes for each:

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Cover pages for ebooks, novelettes, stories, or anything that doesn’t require a professional’s touch will benefit from Canva’s professionalism. Pick a Canva template and then edit text and image. This is easily done in five minutes once you know what you’re doing.

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Fliers, Posters

Fliers can be used to announce book signings, blog hops, or any other event related to the marketing of your writing. Canva provides a wide variety of templates with lots of fonts, colors, and image placement choices.

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Resumes are a critical but oft-complicated requirement for job hunting. Canva makes it easy. All you do is pick a layout, enter data, and you’re done. Canva does the formatting, font selection, and attractive layout.



Overall, Canva is a fully-featured desktop publishing tool that is scalable to most workflows and rigorous enough for most projects. It levels the playing field for all Indie writers as we struggle to market our books after we’ve written them.  

More marketing options for writers:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


116 thoughts on “How to Use Canva in Your Writing

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  11. Hi Jacqui,
    I have used Canva for blog graphics for years, but I never considered it for these other uses. I once tried to use it for a Media Kit but had trouble. Thanks for the ideas. I liked your SlideShare presentation.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve been using Canva for a year now, and I so love it. Makes it easy and fun to create graphics. I use it for my blog and for most of my social media, but I know there are more ways to use it. I plan to explore them one by one 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Jacqui – thanks for this … I need to read properly – but I’ve noted for referral basis. Great information well set out – always helpful … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Great post, Jacqui – I was referred to your site by Terri from Second Wind Leisure. I wholeheartedly agree with you about Canva being simple and easy to use for so many graphic design purposes. I am the Social Media Director for one of our local organizations and use it all the time for blogs, Facebook, websites, flyers, posters, etc. For me, Canva offers a professional look at no cost, and with great ease. What could be better? Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. I really like Canva and couldn’t live without it now either, but I must admit I tend to just use it for cover images, making quote collages etc. I really should try out the other features and layouts! Great article 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to say that about myself, too. Because I’ve published over a hundred items, the cost of all those covers would have been horrid so I forced myself to follow Canva’s templates and try to create the less-important ones myself. Believe me, that was my real motivation!


  18. Glad to see there’s a good alternative to Publisher that’s easy to use and produces quality graphics. Good tips and examples!

    As someone who has been in the graphics field for over twenty years: Publisher needs to burn and never be spoken of again. I’d be thrilled to never again have to work with a .pub file some well-meaning person created. Second on my list would be graphics made in Word. Just say no.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that. Publisher used to be the all-in-one desktop publisher, but it became something else. There are so many good options online now that are affordable and professional. But, everyone I know recognizes the difference between this sort of approach and what a real designer brings to the party. Definitely a cut above.


  19. I do use Canva but don’t find it as easy as you make it sound. It’s hard to choose your own photo and upload it on the template. Equally, it is difficult to undo a step …..and also it doesn’t work on the iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. Uploading photos–I do that through the Uploads button (on the left). That’s where my personal collection of photos lives as well as new ones. Then I just drag and drop. Undo–Ctrl+Z is my default. Does that work? You got me on iPhone. I definitely don’t design on that device. Although Canva is supposed to work fine on iPads (though I haven’t tried it).


  20. I’ve used Canva for cover images for free short stories I’ve published as ebooks. I must admit, the cover images for my novels that were designed by a pro are more impressive, but also way more expensive. For free stories, I figured it wasn’t worth it to pay for really good covers. I like that Canva allows you to work with layers and transparency. Strikes me it’s a good tool for putting together ideas and sketches for print or ebook covers you could then pass on to a professional designer — easier to get your ideas across than just describing them, maybe.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Helpful to those who want it. I balk at anything that make the format for me. I like to try my hand at it. Anything already done for the writer saves time however. So I have used both methods since I like to experiment creatively. Thanks for an informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Back in the day, I used to edit my own videos at an editing studio (analog before digital) and wanted placement of everything just so. These days,, when I want to spend my time in different ways, I will resort to something to make my life easier. I guess I am just one of those creative types you mentioned. Even in my sewing and in altering patterns to suit my needs. As long as it is fun, I will experiment. Did you ever take a 35 mm camera and practice photos with different settings instead of just he automatic setting? Well, that’s me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

          • Good for you. It is great to dream and then make your dreams a reality. I love creating and for awhile, our house was filled with paper I had made and then the projects from this paper. Isn’t the creative journey the best? Next up will be to put a poem to music. For now I am content with studying voice. Who knows where it will take me? Lifelong learning is the name of the game.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I remember when I was forced to be creative, making awards for my daughter’s 1st grade class. I was so stressed! I’d love to see your home. Put a poem to music–of course. That just makes sense!

              Liked by 1 person

            • I suppose you could also call my home “creative” because when I do projects, I spread out everywhere much to the consternation of my family. Today my grown children just say “you go, Mom.” That’s an idea to consider for a song. I’ll mull over it. Thanks.

              Liked by 1 person

  22. Jacqui, this looks brilliant! We haven’t got publisher because of the price and I struggle to do banners, good looking quotes etc…I’ll give this a go! Many thanks for sharing…I’m building up on all the apps and programs you’ve recommending and they’re so useful. 😀😀

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Love this article. I’ve been using Canva for a little less than a year and in the beginning it was a battle. Lol. I wanted everything I did to look it’s best so I would spend hours on one template, get frustrated and then quit. Now I can put something together in about 10-15 minutes with ease. Bigger projects I still get someone else to do but small projects I can do myself. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’ve forgotten the original struggle–getting to know the platform. Like you, I have so many projects created, I build off of them and get done really quickly. I agree–something really important still goes to the experts.


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