Making Infographics in Canva: a Guide and Review


If you’ve ever had to design a poster for class, you’re probably familiar with Canva. This online and app-based graphic design tool, with free and subscription-based versions, features a large selection of templates and stock graphics that make it pretty easy to create decent-looking infographics. While it is far from perfect, the ease of use makes Canva worth trying out if you want to add a bit of color and fun to your data presentation.

Getting Started

Starting with a blank document can be intimidating, especially for someone without any graphic design experience. Luckily, Canva has a bunch of templates to help you get started.

Canva infographic templates

I recommend picking a template based on the color scheme and general aesthetic. It’s unlikely you’ll find a template that looks exactly how you want, so you can think of a template as a selection of colors, fonts, and graphics to use in your design, rather than something to just copy and paste things into. For example, see the image below – I recently used the template on the left to create the infographic on the right.

An infographic template compared to the resulting infographic

General Design Principles

Before you get started on your infographic, it’s important to remember some general design guidelines:

  1. Contrast. High levels of contrast between your background and foreground help keep everything legible.
  2. Simplicity. Too many different colors and fonts can be an eyesore. Stick to no more than two fonts at a time.
  3. Space. Leave whitespace to keep things from looking cluttered.
  4. Alignment and balance. People generally enjoy looking at things that are lined up neatly and don’t have too much visual weight on one side or another.
An exaggerated example of a design that ignores the above advice.

Adding Graphs and Graphics

Now that you have a template in hand and graphic design principles in mind, you can start actually creating your infographic. Under “Elements,” Canva includes several types of basic charts. Once you’ve added a chart to your graphic, you can edit the data associated with the chart directly in the provided spreadsheet, by uploading a csv file, or by linking to a google spreadsheet.

Canva interface for creating charts

The settings tab allows you to decide whether you want the chart to include a legend or labels. The options bar at the top allows for further customization of colors and bar or dot appearance. Finally, adding a few simple graphics from Canva’s library such as shapes and icons can make your infographic more interesting. 

Examples of charts available in Canva, with a variety of customizations.

Limitations and Frustrations

The main downsides to Canva are the number of features locked behind a paywall and the inability to see only the free options. Elements cannot be filtered by price and it seems that more and more graphics are being claimed by Canva Pro, so searching for graphics can be frustrating. Templates can be filtered, but it will still bring up results where the template itself is free, but there are paid elements within the template. So, you might choose a template based on a graphic that you really like, only to find out that you need a Canva Pro subscription to include that graphic.

The charts in Canva also have limitations. Pie charts do not allow for the selection of colors for each individual slice; you have to pick one color, and Canva will generate the rest. However, if you want to have more control over your charts, or wish to include more complicated data representations, you can upload charts to Canva, which even supports transparency.


As mentioned above, Canva has its downsides. However, Canva’s templates, graphics, and charts still make it a super useful tool for creating infographics that are visually appealing. Try it out the next time you need to present some data!

Creating Eye-Catching and Collaborative Charts with LucidChart

A sample chart I whipped up in just a few minutes.

Sometimes the way that you display your data can be just as important as the data itself. However, for those of us who are less artistically-inclined, finding a way to present our ideas in clear, appealing ways can be difficult. That is why LucidChart can be a powerful ally to help you in your quest to present your research!

LucidChart is a free online tool (though there are paid storage packages for heavy users) that allows you to create and share various kinds of charts, with options ranging from mind maps to Cisco Network diagrams, cause and effect diagrams to floor plans. The categories that LucidChart sorts their standard templates into are: Android, Business Analysis, Education, Engineering, Entity Relationship (ERD), Floorplan, Flowchart, Mind Map, Network, Network Infastructure, Org Chart, Other, Site Map, UML, Venn Diagram, Wireframe, and iOS. You can also create and save personal templates. Each of the many options can be customized, and if elements from other templates can be added to whatever chart you are using.

The chart template selection screen.

LucidChart takes (some) of the difficulty out of designing a chart. While you have the option to change every aspect of the chart, you can also use the recommended shapes, colors, and lay-outs that LucidChart provides for you. While every template will need at least a little tweaking (because all data is different), these options can make the process of creating your chart less stressful and quicker.

The basic work space for LucidChart.

One of the greatest aspects of LucidChart is your ability to share charts. Similar to other collaborative creation websites like GoogleDocs, you have the ability to send the link out to collaborators. You can then allow collaborators to edit, comment on, and/or view your document. You can also share your document on social media, or embed it on a website. A chat option makes for easy commentary on your chart, as well.

Overall, LucidChart is a great data visualization tool, especially for newcomers who may need a helping hand with creating charts that adequately communicate their ideas to others!