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How to Set Up a PDF Properly in Canva for Print

Canva can be a great alternative to Adobe products when creating design projects for print. Whether it’s a brochure, flyer, or business card, using Canva can allow you to design your next stunning promotional product. However, in order to make sure that your design prints properly you need to set up your files in a specific way. These settings aren’t the default and can be a little confusing if you haven’t done it before.

setting up files in Canva for print, how to set up a PDF for print in Canva

How Do I Set Up a PDF in Canva to Print Properly?

Have no fear! We’ve created this comprehensive guide to ensure that your next Canva project prints exactly the way you intended it to.
*Note: These steps are most easily followed by using the desktop version of Canva. While on a mobile device, the View Settings menu is found by clicking on the 3 dots at the top of your screen. Additionally, to download a PDF on your mobile device first select Share, then Download, then PDF for print.

Step 1- Creating a New Document

creating a new design in canva for print

The first step is to create your document. Once you log in to your Canva account, you will see a “Create a design” button in the upper right corner. Once you click that button, a drop down menu will appear. This drop down menu will suggest some common document types and sizes that may be useful for you. However, if you have an exact size in mind simply click the “Custom size” button in the bottom left corner of this drop down box.

correct file sizing in Canva

You will then be prompted to provide the width and height of your document. Be sure to change the increments of measurement to the “in” option for inches. The size you want to put here should be the file size of your finished product. For example, if you are printing a standard business card, you would type 3.5 for the width and 2 for the height.

Step 2- Adding Bleed

Another crucial step in ensuring that your Canva design prints well is to add bleed to your document. What the heck is bleed? Bleed ensures that your design extends beyond the edge of the final size, which allows for some wiggle room during trimming. Without sufficient bleeds, any minor misalignment during trimming could result in unwanted white borders.

Adding bleeds in Canva

In order to add bleed to your document, navigate to the “File” menu on the top left of your Canva document. Once you click this, hover over “View settings” and then select “Show print bleed.” This will automatically add 1/8″ around the border of your entire design. Generally, you will want to extend your background color/s imagery to the edge of your bleed.
Important tip: This area is NOT for design elements. It is important to not add anything in your bleed that you actually want to be seen in your finished product. The bleed is simply there so that you don’t have an unwanted white border around your design.
Bonus Tip: In this same area on Canva you can select the “Show margins” option. With this turned on you can see the area in which we tend to call the “safe area.” It’s a good rule of thumb to keep all important design elements (logos, text, important parts of images) within this safe area. If you have design elements outside of this safe area, it is possible that they may end up getting cut off or cropped in a way that you didn’t intend.

Step 3- Create Your Beautiful Artwork

Templates: You can start with a pre-made Canva template, create your own completely original design, or a combination of the two. Pay attention to the layout and composition of your design, ensuring that elements are well-balanced, visually appealing, and legible.
Layout & Typography: Experiment with different fonts to find ones that complement your design. Consider hierarchy and readability when selecting fonts for headings, subheadings, and body text. Be sure to keep in mind the tips that we shared in Step 2 regarding bleed and margins.
Branding: Be mindful of branding when it comes to consistency with colors, fonts, and imagery. Select a color scheme that resonates with your brand or the message that you want to convey. Canva even offers predefined color palettes or allows you to create custom color combinations.
Proofread: Double check for types and ensure all elements are in the correct position. Thoroughly proofread all text and content. Simple typos and grammatical errors can be costly to correct once the printing process has started.

Step 4- Downloading Your PDF

Once you are satisfied with your design (and now that you have properly set up your document for bleeds) you are ready to download your PDF to send off to your printer.

how to download file from Canva to print

Follow these steps:
1. Click “File” in the top right corner and then select “Download”
2. A new window will pop up. Choose the file type “PDF Print”
3. Checkmark the “Crop marks and bleed” option and the “Flatten PDF” option
4. Choose the Color Profile “CMYK”
5. Select “Download”

Your file should now automatically save itself in your computer’s downloads folder. Find your file and rename it if you need to.

Important tip: Saving your PDF with the CMYK color profile is a feature that only comes with a Canva Pro account. If you don’t have a paid canva subscription, you will only be able to download your PDF in RBG color mode. Your printer may be able to convert this for you, but please know that you will most likely have a bit of difference between the color on your PDF and the color of your final printed product.

Step 5- Uploading Your Artwork

Now that you’ve got your PDF with the correct sizing, bleed, and color mode, you’re ready to upload it! If you already have a digital storefront set up with us, upload your PDF there. Otherwise, fill out the contact form below and one of our Solutions Specialists will contact you shortly. Feel free to leave us any questions or concerns you may have!

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