Designing in Canva

Canva is a design tool/platform that SES units can access for ad-hoc or social media designs that are not part of any major campus-wide campaigns or projects. Canva can also be used for SES MarComm to upload editable templates for client use and export.

Before you start

Contact SES MarComm

If your unit does not already have access, contact SES MarComm to arrange access to the Student and Enrolment Services Canva team.

Before using Canva

Before using Canva, review the SES Social Media Guidelines document and UCalgary Brand Standards website for writing and design best practices.

Creating in Canva

The SES Canva team will already have the UCalgary brand set up, including the approved colour palette (and some tints/shades), as well as the brand font, Gotham.

  • Make sure you’re saving your designs in your specified SES unit folder to keep things organized
  • Start with an approved brand template whenever possible
    • Want a template created? Contact SES MarComm to request
  • If you need to create something that is not related to an existing template, you can use Canva’s templates or design from scratch if you’re feeling brave

Graphic Design best practices

Be consistent

  • Stick to using the same graphic template for events within the same series.
  • Posts should have a clear intention to drive engagement to an event or program
  • Review social media guidelines

Keep your designs simple

  • Use 3–5 UCalgary colours in one graphic (including backgrounds)
  • Steer clear of decorative or busy elements
  • Avoid “cursive” (script) fonts

Ensure designs are easy to read and font isn’t too small

  • For social media, it is preferred to use photos or little to no text on a post and keep information in the caption
  • Text should go onto a solid background or a clear area of an illustrated background
  • Keep font sizes large and legible, and keep your writing short
    • Rule #1: text should take up no less than 2/3 of the page.
    • Rule #2: if one line has more than 7 words, the font is too small


  • Gotham or Museo (or an approved alternative) must be used at minimum
    • If you don’t have Gotham, Montserrat looks very similar to Gotham, and is acceptable for titles and headings. You can also play around with title fonts similar to Museo Slab.
  • Other fonts may be used as “display fonts”, i.e. for a headline
  • For variety, you can combine different sizes, weights or styles of the same font (e.g. all caps, bold, italic, thin, regular, etc.).
  • Don’t use more than two different font families per graphic

Brand controls and approvals

Brand-approved colours

Colours are locked so you can only use ones that are brand-approved.

SES MarComm approval

Some designs will require the review and approval of SES MarComm. If this appears, you won’t be able to export final designs until it has been approved.

Share it

If you want to have your design reviewed, you can share it using the Share button (see screenshot for reference)

Examples of Canva designs for social media below

This is a good example of a carousel post and the accompanying caption. Don’t add too much text in the design; keep it to a brief summary. Use the available caption space to elaborate or link to a longer content piece

Example of an instagram post designed in Canva

This design started with a simple Canva template, then was recoloured with UCalgary’s brand colours.Text in the graphic is limited (the accompanying caption has more text). The ISAP graphic was uploaded.

This post also makes good use of the carousel image feature to spread a lot of content into a few graphics. Colours are on brand but relative to office. Minimal content to drive people back to the UCalgary website “for more”.

Example of an instagram post designed in Canva

This is an example of a template that was created for a long-running program or event series. It allows for minor updates to be made for each event while maintaining a consistent look for the “Women Leaders Speaker Series”.