Tuesday, November 14, 2023

How To Make Fun Graphs With Canva

Graphs are useful tools, but they're also very boring. Last year, I made a blog post to show off the data from my bookish spreadsheets. The graphs in the rough draft of the post sucked, so I spiced them up with fun illustrations. After the post went live, I got a bunch of emails from people who wanted to know how I made the graphs. Today, I'm going to tell you!

An example of the graphs I'm blathering about.

I use a website called Canva to make graphs. I have an upgraded (paid) subscription to Canva, but you can still make cool stuff with a free account.

Note: I've never used Canva on a phone, so these instructions are for the desktop/computer version of the site.

📉  How To Make Fun Graphs  📈

1. Go to Canva (https://www.canva.com/) and login or create an account. Under the You Might Want To Try . . . section near the top of the screen, click Instagram Post (Square).

Why choose Instagram post? It's a quick way to create a 1080 X 1080 px square. That size works well enough for my blog. You might have to play with the sizes to find what works for you.

2. Now you should have a blank white square in the middle of your screen. That's where you're going to create your graph. Look at the far-left edge of the screen, in the dark gray area. Do you see a button called Apps? Click that.

3. Click Charts. You may have to scroll down to see the Charts button. It's under the More From Canva section on the left side of the screen.

4. You'll see all the chart types that Canva has to offer. You can make whatever breed of chart you want, but I prefer the pie chart with the hole in the middle. I think it's called a donut chart? I don't know. I'm not a nuclear physicist. Click the full circle chart with the hole in it. It's on the left side of the screen, under Pie Charts.

5. Now you have a donut in the middle of your screen. You can type in your data and change the graph's settings so that it displays the data in the way you want. The graph in the middle of the screen will update itself as you type.

6. I like to drag the edges of the graph so that it's bigger and takes up more of the white square. I also center the graph in the square. (You can click the graph and drag it wherever you want.)

7. Once you've typed in all your data, it's time to decorate! Look at the far-left side of the screen. Do you see the Elements button? It's near the top. Click Elements.

8. Click the word Graphics. It's a heading on the left side of the screen, near the top.

9. Use the search bar on the top left to look for an image to decorate your graph. Since my graph is about books, I searched for "books." You'll probably be more creative than me.

10. Scroll down in the graphics panel until you find an image that brings you joy. 

If you're using a free account, you may have to keep scrolling for a free image. The images with the crown icons cost money. I promise there are free images mixed in with the paid ones. You just have to hunt for them. The free ones don't have any icons next to them.

Click your chosen image to add it to your graph. Once it's on the graph, you can drag it around, resize it, or change its position and transparency. Some images will even let you change their colors. Now you'll see why I prefer the donut graphs. They have a handy void in the middle that I can fill with art.

If you scroll down far enough in the graphics section, you'll notice that some of the images are animated, and others are not. You can choose moving or still images for your graphs.

11. Does your graph look like the perfect piece of artwork you always dreamed of creating? No? Is it good enough? Brilliant! It's time to save your creation. Click the Share button on the top right side of your screen.

12. You can do a bunch of stuff with the menu that pops up, but I want to add my graph to my blog, so I choose Download.

13. Use the drop-down menu to choose a file type. If you decorated your graph with an image that does not move, you can use the file type PNG or JPG. If your image does move, you have to choose GIF. If you choose anything else, your image won't move continuously (or at all). After you select your file type, click the purple download button.

14. Save your graph to your computer and then add it to a blog post! (Leave a link to your blog post in my comments so I can see your creation.)

Here are the examples I created:

Let me know if you make any fun graphs!


  1. OMG, this is awesome, thank you!! I was really inspired by your post last year and was thinking I wanted to try graphs for a year-end post. I wasn't sure where I could make them. I use Canva but didn't see this option before, so thank you!!

  2. This is a great post! I use Canva and love it but I don't think I've ever thought about graphs before. A fun idea for a wrap-up post :)

  3. Thank you for sharing. I use the ree version of Canva but should consider upgrading. I will bookmark this post so I can attempt to make a chart when I have some time. Thank you again.

    My discussion post on rereading

  4. Wow how helpful. This post is definitely something I should try. I've never tried to make a graph before so I'm glad your instructions are basic and I can follow (hopefully). thanks. it will be perfect for my year-end books.

  5. I LOVE these graphics. Also, Canva has seriously stepped up its game. I was doing something on there the other day and you can make video compilations now! Part of me really wants to upgrade, but the poorer part of me will still keep looking for those freebies. I tried to sign up for an educator one, and my school's "team" DENIED me, what the hell!? I was using a school email FFS! So. That is cute. Anyway, I love Canva and I love your graphs!

  6. Thanks for sharing. I use Canva but in a very minimal way.

    Anne - Books of My Heart