Printable Planner

Using Canva to Design Printables

If you are looking for the best program to design your own printables, you are in the right place. In this article you will learn everything you need to know about using Canva to design printables.

If you are looking for a comparison on which is the best program for you then read this article. I have used my share of software programs for designing printables and you will find my honest opinion on each of them.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission when you choose to use the links provided, at no cost to you. See the Disclosure Policy for more information.

Woman at desk with laptop and open planner

Benefits of Designing Your Own Printables

Here are some quite significant benefits of designing your own printables:


Control is very important to me. I love the control I have designing printables that are suitable for my needs. I love the ability to redesign my printables as my needs or style changes. The ability to control the style, the colours and layout of my printables brings me peace of mind. I like the control that comes with having the knowledge and skills required to design anything that I can imagine.


Having the skills and equipment necessary to design your own printables brings you more freedom than you might think. Once you are competent designing your own printables, you will notice the freedom from constantly searching for the right printables. I’m a planner girl at heart and for years I was searching for exactly the right planner. There were some that were close but nothing was perfect. The ability to design your own planner using the dimensions, style & paper you need you will be free from that constant struggle. If you like spiral bound planners, you can take your planner to the local stationery store and they will bind it for you.

You will also discover a financial freedom from the expense of constantly purchasing printables or planners that don’t work for you.

Creativity Outlet

Do you have a creative heart and love to design? Do you enjoy learning new skills? You will be able to utilise your creative talent to design perfect printables. In my business, designing printables is one of my two favourite tasks (the other being teaching others how to create their own printables). Canva is a very basic design program but perfect for beginners with its drag and drop features. It has limited elements available but you will be able to import your own files or images to use.

Learn Something New

This could be just me, but I love to learn new things. Not all new things – I have no interest in learning how to fly an aeroplane – but I do love learning. Learning how to design using any software program is something that can be fun. You can get whatever is in your head onto the canvas on your computer screen. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you can multitask and drink a cup of tea and eat a biscuit at the same time if you need to.

For me, once I become comfortable with my current skill level in any software program, I’ll find something else to learn. I never use the full potential that technology has to offer and I love exploring new possibilities in the platforms that I’m already familiar with.

Saving Money

You have got to love this benefit of designing printables. With the knowledge and skills that come with learning how to design your own printables using Canva, you will be free from spending money on designs that don’t meet your needs. It is cheaper to design and print your own printables than to purchase them. Your initial costs might add up. For example, you may purchase a course on how to design using a particular program, you might purchase a new printer or some pretty special paper. Once you’ve made that initial investment, DIY printables is the most cost effective way to go.

If you are looking for a course on how to design your own printables please check out my BGL Planning School

Making Money

Once you are a printables design champion, you can create a passive income selling your printables online. It’s worth some serious consideration.

top view of hands typing on laptop on desk

Can I Really Design My Own Printables

Yes – absolutely. If you’re reading this article, I’ll assume that you’ve purchased printables or downloaded some free printables. You might be wondering how you could make these yourself. There are a few different programs to choose from. Check out my article Best Programs For Designing Printables for more information on other programs. You will find one that suits your needs and skill level.

So if you’re sick of trying to find the perfect planner, want to save (or make)  money, or you have a desire to create your own printables as a creative outlet then Canva is a great place to start.


Many of you may already be familiar with this free online tool. There are many planner designers who use this tool as their preferred program. It is great for simple designs using their built in templates and decorative elements.

With the free version you have limited access to their fonts, images and graphics, however you can choose to purchase these for a small fee. Alternatively, for an annual subscription, you can access these at no extra cost as well as additional functionality such as resizing documents. The resizing feature is particularly useful when you need to change a letter  size document to A4 or vice versa.

This software uses what is known as drag and drop features. You find the element you are looking for in the left hand menu and drop it on your canvas for editing. This is perfect for people who are looking for easy to use software to design printables.

Most of the images that I use when designing with Canva, I’ve purchased elsewhere. The images that they have available do not match my style. I feel that if I’m spending money purchasing elements to use in Canva, it almost negates the reason for using Canva (which is that it’s free). Having said that, even after purchasing images that I want to use, it is still the cheaper option here.

As a free tool, there are many limitations. For example, at the time of writing, it is a long process to create realistic shadows. I actually use my Adobe software to create the shadow and then upload it to Canva. So I might as well use the Adobe products for designing printables and remove the extra step.


  • Free version available
  • User friendly
  • Templates
  • Available for both Windows and Mac users
  • Great quick design tool for simple designs


  • You get what you pay for and there are many limitations
  • Can’t create unique elements – you are stuck with whatever they have available.
  • The images available are not whimsical or fun, they have more of a business or simplistic style. 
open laptop and coffee in mug on table with a potted fern

Final Thoughts on Canva

This is a great option for beginners. If you are looking to create simple printables then this could be the option for you. If you are looking for more advanced features with no limitations, then you will find Canva frustrating.

Grab Your FREE Checklist For Designing Printables Below

Printables Checklist PDF - 4 pages spread across image

Relevant Information

If you are looking for a breakdown of different programs then you will find this article Best Programs for Designing Printables useful. 

Here are my thoughts on which software solution would best suit your needs.

Below is a list of my suggestions for you to consider.

  • If you are already familiar with one program – go with that.
  • For those who have access to one program and are happy to learn how to use it – go with that
  • If you are happy with basics then a free tool such as Canva will be perfect.
  • Beginners on a budget who are not afraid of steep learning curves can’t go past Affinity Publisher.
  • If you want advanced features and all the support tools, bells and whistles and are not afraid of a steep learning curve then you need to try Adobe Indesign.

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Happy Planning x

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