How to Upload a PDF to Canva


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These days, we deal with a lot of different types of media files. JPEG, PNG, TIFF, MOV, SVG, and yes, PDF. If you know and love Canva the way that I do, you’ve probably realized that Canva isn’t very PDF friendly. This can be frustrating because a lot of the documents we receive these days are PDFs. So, what should you do? How can you upload a PDF to Canva?

To upload a PDF to Canva, use a free online software to convert your PDF file into a png file. Drag and drop the png file into Canva, complete your design, and download your design from Canva in whatever file type you need.

As you’ve probably noticed, this is a workaround. Canva doesn’t have an innate ability to upload PDFs. It sucks, but we have to work with what we’ve got. Luckily, this workaround is a great fix and only takes a few extra steps. There are some important things to keep in mind though, so keep reading to make sure that your PDF-uploading Canva life is as easy as possible.

What Types of Files Can I Upload to Canva?

If Canva doesn’t support PDFs, what DOES canva support? When using Canva, you can upload any of the following:

  • JPEGs and PNGs under 25MB each and under 100 million pixels total
  • SVG images under 3MB each, between 150 to 200 pixels wide, and saved as “SVG 1.1”
  • MOV under 250MB
  • GIF under 250MB
  • MP4 under 250MB
  • fonts in formats .otf, .ttf, and .woff

There are additional specifications and requirements for files aside from JPEGs and PNGs, so be sure to review Canva’s guidelines here. Familiarizing yourself with Canva’s file guidelines can save you a lot of time and headache wondering what’s going wrong when you try to upload an obscure file.

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For our purposes with managing our PDFs, we want to focus on JPEGs and PNGs. These image files are the most closely related to PDFs and will give us the best results. While JPEGs will work, I want to point you towards PNGs, and here’s why.

Side note: we’re about to get a little technical here. If you don’t care about the differences between JPEGs and PNGs and simply want to take my word for it that PNGs are better, feel free to skip to the next section. But, if you’re curious, here’s a quick rundown on how JPEGs and PNGs work.

Which is better quality JPEG or PNG?

JPEGs use lossy compression and PNGs use lossless compression. 

Lossy compression removes parts from the image that are supposed to be undetectable to the human eye. That said, the more that the image is compressed, the more you can see the flaws. It can also lead to reconstruction errors when imported into a new program.

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Lossless compression doesn’t remove anything from the image as it compresse it, which means that the quality is usually higher than those that use lossy compression. It also reduces the risks of errors (source).

Given that PNGs use lossless compression, they’re a higher quality and more reliable choice. 

Note: due to the compression methods, PNGs tend to be larger than JPEGs. The lossless compression used with PNGs doesn’t remove as much information as the lossy compression method used with JPEGs. If file size is a concern, you want to keep this in mind.

I will almost always choose PNGs or JPEGs for the reasons above. That said, JPEGs wouldn’t have become such a popular image choice if they were absolute trash. No, JPEGs are great. Most of the time, you won’t even notice the differences between a PNG and a JPEG. 

But, because we’re talking about design, it’s good to go with the highest quality choice, which is PNG.

Ok, now that we’ve geeked out about image compression, let’s get back to uploading our PDF into Canva.

1. Convert your PDF into a PNG

The first step to this process of uploading your PDF to Canva is converting your PDF into a PNG. For this process, simply Google “PDF to PNG converter” and you’ll have an entire list of great options to choose from. Zamzar is one that will appear near the top that I normally use.

Here’s Zamzar’s dashboard. Nice and easy to use!

As you’ll notice, most of these programs give you the option to convert your PDF into any number of formats, so this is where you can decide where you fall on the JPEG vs. PNG debate.

Simply pick one of the PDF to PNG converters listed in Google, upload your PDF into it, wait for the conversion to take place, and download the PNG it spits out.

2. Drag your new PNG into Canva

Now that your PDF has been converted into a PNG, it’s compatible with Canva and ready to use. 

Create your design as you normally would.

3. Download your design as needed

When you’re done with your design, it’s time to download it in whatever file type you’ll need to use. If you want to turn your design back into a PDF, I suggest using the print ready setting. This will give you the highest quality PDF version of your design.

If you need an image file, you’ve guessed it, download it as a PNG.

There you have it. Even though Canva doesn’t allow you to upload PDF files directly, the workaround is pretty quick and easy. Before we close out, here are a few things to keep in mind.

What if the PDF has multiple pages?

If your PDF has multiple pages, your PDF to PNG converter will probably turn each page into a separate PNG file. If it doesn’t for some reason, find one that does. 

Can I edit my PDF in Canva?

You cannot edit your PDF in Canva in the traditional way because we needed to convert it to a PNG, which now makes it an image. If you need to edit your PDF, make any text changes before converting it to a PNG. You can add text within Canva, but you cannot change the text of the PDF that’s already there.

how to curve text with Canva
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Can I upload a Word document or other text document to Canva?

If you have Word documents or other types of text documents, save them as PDFs and then go through the steps we’ve outlined above in order to upload them to Canva. 

Sometimes, we get word documents that are full of pictures. That’ll work. But, if your word documents are actually full of words. You’ll be much better off copying and pasting them into Canva’s text feature instead of turning them into an image. Turning a long string of words into an image is a recipe for squashed, distorted, and weirdly positioned text.

Will converting a PDF to a PNG mess anything up?

Whenever you convert a file from one format to another, you’re at risk of something going wrong. Basically, the more moving pieces you have, the more chances there are that something will get jammed. When you do your conversion, there’s a chance of some quality loss or a bigger glitch. 

Just make sure to check your files every step of the way and you’ll be totally fine. 

Do I need Canva Pro to work with PDFs in Canva?

You can convert PDFs to PNGs and use them within Canva completely with the free version. There’s no reason to upgrade to Canva Pro. 

That said, I’m a HUGE fan of Canva Pro and wouldn’t use Canva without it. Canva Pro has a lot of amazing capabilities including:

  • Resizing documents
  • Removing the backgrounds of images + other great effects
  • Access to a customizable brand library
  • 60,000+ free templates to use for your designs
  • 60+ million stock images, graphics, and videos
  • Ability to upload your own fonts

Canva Pro is a huge step up from the free version. If you want to learn more, check out my reasons for why Canva Pro is worth the money. Or, click HERE or the banner to get a free trial of Canva Pro and check it out for yourself, risk free.

Canva is a great design software, but everything has its limitations. Luckily, with the right tricks and workarounds, we can knock these limitations down and continue to create great designs using PDFs within Canva. With a simple conversion, we can turn PDFs into images that work seamlessly with Canva. Simple as that. Happy designing!

Diana Fitts

Diana has been an artist for over 25 years and has training in drawing, painting, digital drawing and graphic design. Diana's latest obsession is digitally drawing with Procreate and creating t-shirt designs with Canva. Diana has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.

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