The Visual Identity Toolkit in Canva

What is Canva?

Canva is a website with drag-n-drop tools enabling you to easily create your own graphics to post on social media, add to your website and calendar events, submit to the campus digital signs, and more. The Digital Communications team can add department users by request. Contact Willa Jarnagin to learn more.

Amherst mammoth head logo

Use Amherst Logos and Fonts in Canva!

We’ve created a digital version of our Visual Identity Toolkit (VIT) inside Canva, providing you with instant access to our official fonts and graphics, including Mammoth logos, wordmarks, seals, and more. To request your own departmental Amherst graphics, visit our VIT and submit your request.

What About Print?

You can use Canva for informal print pieces, such as flyers or small posters. Be sure to download your finished piece as a PDF, not a PNG, in order to preserve the font sharpness. Be aware that the images might not print sharply, so your results will vary. For professional print pieces in which you need high-resolution images, stick with InDesign.

Already Using Canva?

If you’ve already been using Canva under a personal email address and would like to move your designs into your new Amherst Canva team account, follow these instructions.


Getting Started

When you log in to Canva, you’ll land on the homepage. From here, you’ll be able to select a type of design you would like to start with, see your current designs, or view templates and other elements that have been shared with you.

A photo of a design homepage with a search bar and several design options

Once you create a design, you can access it again from the homepage, either from “Your designs” on the main page or from “All your designs” in the left nav menu. This menu allows you to navigate to the Amherst brand kit, design folders, team stream, and account settings.

Creating a Design Using an Amherst Template

We’ve provided a variety of templates within Canva, which you can use and change as you need.

  1. When on the Canva homepage, you can access Amherst templates by selecting Amherst College VIT in the left nav and then Templates from the top menu, or by selecting Folders in the left nav and selecting the Shared with you folder.
  2. Select the template your would like to use, then click Use template from the pop-up window. This will bring you directly into the Canva editor, and the left nav will change to the creation/editing tools menu. From here, you’ll be able to access the templates and elements you can use in your design. It’s divided into 6 tabs dedicated to Templates, Images, Text, Uploads, Folders, and Apps.
  3. Before you begin working on your template copy, rename the file in the upper-right hand corner of the screen:

    A menu item saying Copy of Digital Sign Vertical Poster

  4. When in the Canva editor, you can find all Amherst photos, logos, icons and other assets by going to Folders in the left nav: 

    A list of folders including logos, campus photos, IT logos, seasonal and campus art and social icons Logos includes wordmarks, logos and seals in a variety of colors to use on different backgrounds.

    Campus Photos
    includes official campus images from our Photoshelter archive.

    Seasonal and Campus Art
    are seasonal and holiday images.

    Social icons
    are icons that have been sized to use on social media posts.

    (Note: You can also upload photos to your own folder. Browse thousands of Amherst photos at Amherst.edu/go/photolibrary. To upload an image, go to the Uploads folder in the content creator/editing view left nav. You can either drag the image into the folder or select an image using the “Upload an image” option.)

  5. Click on an image (or drag it) to add it to your design. If you’re adding an image to a pre-existing image space, you can simply drag the photo into the space and Canva will resize the image for you.

    To replace the background image, drag the new photo into the background space, where it will pop into place. This takes a little getting used to. Try dragging the image to get a feel for when it pops into the background or when it simply moves.
  6. When adding photos, logos or other design elements to a template, use snap lines to make sure your elements are arranged properly. When you select an element and drag it around your document page, snap lines will appear to indicate the top, center, bottom and margins as you pass them. Dotted lines will appear when elements align with each other.

Creating a Design Using a Canva Template

You can also use one of Canva’s templates if you need a more specific design. From the Canva homepage, you can either use the search bar to look for a design or select a category from the Create a design options menu.

When starting with a non-Amherst created template, none of the Amherst-specific colors, fonts, or other graphic elements will be included. To create a design that’s inline with the Amherst VIT, you can find Amherst’s design elements within Canva’s design tools.


Using Canva’s Design Tools

Undo: To undo any steps at any time, click “Undo” in the top menu or press Command-z or Control-z on your keyboard.

Add New Text: To add more text areas, click “TEXT” in the left column. Use the “brand fonts” to get Amherst’s official typefaces. Click or drag a headline to add it to your design.

A menu showing text options for headlines, subheads and body text

Center or Align: Canva makes it easy to center content. As you’re dragging a headline or image, you’ll see a dotted line pop up when the item is centered.

Add a Shape: To add a box or other shape, go to “ELEMENTS” in the left column and choose “Shapes.”

A menu showing a number of shapes and charts

    • Click on or drag the plain white box (when you hover over it, it will say “free”) to add a simple block.
    • Resize the box by dragging its corners.

Change a Color: Select the shape or text, then choose a color from the palette, via the color button. The palette includes all our Amherst screen colors.

A menu or official Amherst College purples, blues, oranges and greens

Resize an Image: When adding a graphic, such as a Mammoth logo, it will likely be too large by default. Select the image and drag a corner to resize it.

    • Do NOT hold Shift while resizing. Unlike other graphics applications, Canva constrains proportions with simple dragging, but does the opposite if you hold Shift while dragging.
    • Enlarging a graphic is not recommended, as it can become blurry. That’s why we provide the graphics at large sizes.

Finesse Your Type: The Setimo font has wide spacing between the letters by default, which is fine for small type, but should be adjusted for headlines. The spacing has already been adjusted in the provided headlines within the Amherst templates, but if you’re adding a new Setimo headline, select the text and reduce the spacing via the menu.

A menu showing letter and line height spacing

Download Your Finished Graphic: When you’ve finished your design, click “Download” in the top menu to save your graphic:

  • For digital sign posters or print pieces, use the PDF - Print format. This will preserve the text quality (images might not be sharp when printed but should be adequate for informal print pieces).
  • For graphics you will upload to social media, the website, or the college event calendar, use the PNG format.
  • The JPG format is not usually optimal.

Additional Help

When logged in to Canva, you will see a small “Help?” icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Clicking on this button brings up Canva’s help window. You can type questions directly into Canva’s search bar or use the item tree to find what you’re looking for.


A Note on Accessibility

Images—especially those with text in them—must always be made accessible to people with visual impairments or other disabilities.

  • When posting an image to the website, always provide “alt” text.
  • When posting an image to Facebook or other social media platform, always provide a plain-text alternative, whether via the tool’s interface (Facebook allows this), or as a caption accompanying the image.
  • If posting an image within an email, ask IT for help adding alternative text.
  • Learn more about making content accessible.

Willa W. Jarnagin

Willa W. Jarnagin

Director of Web Design & Communications Services

Questions about Canva? Contact me to request an invitation to the Amherst Canva team, to get help using the Canva tools, or to request specific graphics.