In today’s post on getting to grips with your graphic design gofer (that’s Canva, rather than me, just to clarify), we’re going to talk about using it to produce some PDFs. Which PDFs? Specifically your CV and your pricing proposals. I’m guessing you use both of these document types regularly, so they’re pretty important.

I’m guessing they’re pretty boring too.

Now, whether they’re boring for you to produce or look at….that’s your business (and no judging if it’s the latter), but they don’t actually have to be either of these things.

They can be documents you’re proud of.

Let’s start with your CV. First of all – this is not a static document. Nor should it be the length of a static caravan.

You don’t need to list every project you’re ever worked on EVER.

You don’t need to mention every module or examination you’re ever taken EVER.

And you don’t need to be a specialist in every subject known to man EVER.

Phew. Now, don’t you just feel lighter than you’ve ever felt EVER. Sorry. Got stuck in the ever-trap there. So now that we’ve established that your CV doesn’t need to be War & Peace in length, let’s look at, well, how it looks. Let’s look at it impartially for a minute.

Questions to ask about your CV

  • Is it interesting (to look at)?
  • Does it reflect your own personal style, or your business style?
  • Which elements is the eye drawn to?
  • Does it feature any of your company branding (if you have any, obviously)?
  • Is it confusing, or too crowded and busy?
  • Is it functional (and nothing else)?
  • Is it plain?

These sorts of questions (and any more you can think of) will hopefully guide you to look at your CV dispassionately.

My personal take

First of all, a caveat: I’ve only ever sent my CV to agencies – a direct client has never asked me to provide my CV….but I’m aware that plenty of translators do get requests for their CV from direct clients. Anyway, for a long time, I was stuck in a real rut with my CV. I did tailor it to applications (most of the time) but it was pretty plain vanilla.

I think I felt that it had to be boring-I mean- serious, otherwise I wouldn’t be considered a grown up professional translator. But then I realised that there was nothing wrong with it being stylish, or slightly different from “the norm”. It probably coincided with me working with more and more design agencies and marketing departments – I saw that style and substance were not mutually exclusive, as I already mentioned in Part 1 of the Yes We Canva! series.

Speaking of Canva

As you might have guessed, this is where Canva comes in. You already know I’m a huge fan (and no, I’m not on commission or an affiliate) of the tool that makes graphic design gods out of people who are remotely creative and graphic design good-jobbers out of people like me, who have….a slightly lower artistic skill set.

canva document design

My Canva CVs

In the first part of this post, I’m going to take you through some easy steps to designing CVs on Canva. I have about 4 versions of my CV – two of them are for agencies, one is a roaming profile (I sometimes get asked for that for contract work) and the fourth is a portfolio-type document, with some client testimonials on the projects too.

Templates are your friend, my friend

When you log into Canva, you’re going to see this page:

Click on the Create a Design button at the top of the sidebar on the left (just below your log in details and your photo if you’ve added one) and you’ll see this screen:

Canva setup27

Scroll down until you get to a section marked Documents, and you’ll see Résumé (it’s the first item on the second line.)

Click on it.

You’ll come to this screen:

canva set up 19

On the left hand side, you’ll see a number of Canva layouts (remember those from the Social Media post we played around with on Monday?) Those layouts are CV (or résumé) templates for you to use. Scroll down that selection on the left hand side and you’ll see a variety of Free and $1 USD templates for you select. In fact, it’s worth noting that there are a significant number of free templates for you to use (I counted 25+ and then got bored of counting) so designing CVs on Canva needn’t be an expensive option.

Tinker with your templates

If you’d like to use a template “off-the-shelf” and just fill it in with your details, that’s absolutely fine, and, if you’re moving from your comfort zone of a Word document CV then this is a brilliant first step towards having a CV that feels a bit more you.

Let’s pick one that has a nice, clean word processor feel to it and I’ll walk you through how to change your details.

canva set up 20

Let’s start from the top.

  1. Zoom in on the design canvas by clicking the plus sign in the zoom bar in the bottom right hand corner of the Canva screen. I usually zoom in to at least 75%; can’t see a damn thing otherwise.
  2. To change the text (I’m starting with the name on the top row, Josephine Wilson), simply click on it, and a grid will appear around it. Highlight the text you want to change, and type your name in its place. The text that appears will be in the same font as the original name. Like this:

canva set up 21

If you’d like to change the font, that’s easy-peasy and you don’t even have to highlight the text you’ve just changed….

  1. In the tool bar above your design canvas, you’ll see the word Montserrat (it’s the second word in from the left hand side.) That’s the name of the font that your name (now that you’ve changed it to your name) is in.
  2. Click on that word, and you’ll see a dropdown menu. Welcome to your font library, or as I like to call it, my happy place.
  3. Select a font you like the look of and click on it. Your name will be changed to that font (in the screenshot below, you’ll see I’ve changed the font to Merriweather.)

canva set up 22

You can now go through the rest of the template, clicking on the content blocks you wish to change, and adding the details from your own CV. For example, you’d probably be changing the sub-heading Project Manager to English to German Translator (or whatever your language combination is.) You might also be substituting one of the sections for information on your specialisms, or, if it’s relevant, the CAT tools you use.

The toolbar at the top allows you to adjust the text in a very similar manner to Microsoft Word, with buttons for font size, colour, bold, italics, text alignment, bullet points etc. You can even adjust the text spacing and the line height.

Total template re-vamp

If you’d like to go a bit further with designing your CV on Canva, there’s loads of scope for that too. The templates are fully customisable, so there’s a lot you can change. You can swap the colours on a template, the icons and graphics, you can add in your own images (for example, if you want to include a photograph on your CV) and, like we looked at in the last step, you can change the text completely. Use the template as a basis for your CV, and have a bit of fun coming up with something that suits you. Here are few examples:

canva options

The example above uses one of the free templates. The CV on the left is what you’ll load up when you select that template – the example on the right is one I worked on for a corporate client, who needed to display a lot of information on their résumé, including about 10 years of corporate experience. Overall, it doesn’t look vastly different, but is much more fit-for-purpose for that person’s needs than the more sparsely decorated original template.

If you want to do something different again, you can use a template for a base and change it entirely. By choosing this template….

canva option

I could change it to this:

canva option

Or even this….

canva option

In the video tutorials to accompany this blog post, I take you through some of the tweaks you can make. They really are tiny changes, but they can make a big difference to the look and feel of a document. As I’ve mentioned – I am no design queen, but by playing around with the different options, and using the templates as a guide, I’ve come up with designs that I’m happy with, so there’s no reason you can’t do it too!

Client proposals

I’ve been using Canva to produce client proposals for a while now. Depending on your client base, producing a proposal for each project or each request for pricing might be overkill. For my type of clients (individual business owners & marketing/digital agencies) it’s what they expect.

There’s also the added benefit of having everything that’s been agreed on paper (and in the same place, rather than on scattered emails) and you also have the opportunity to request that the contract element of your proposal is signed and returned to you…indeed, in some countries this is a legal requirement.

If you’d like some guidance on what you should include in a pricing proposal, we discussed it during our Let’s Talk Rates live chat in October last year – you can download the Resources Kit from that session by visiting this post. Inside you’ll find the example contents for pricing proposals. as well as a template for raising your rates and tips on tracking your time.

How to create a proposal on Canva

Starting from the page you reach when you log in (which has all your designs on it), click on the Create a Design button again (top left.) You’ll reach a screen with all the possible templates you can use. Just like you did for your CV, scroll down to Documents, but this time select A4 from the thumbnails. You’ll arrive at this screen:

Canva setup23

Again, you’ll see a range of templates along the left hand side, but we’re going to ignore them for this task, and come up with a design on our own. I’m going to walk you through my process.

Step 1 Select a cover

Choose an image that resonates with you and/or the customer. For example, I offer writing services, so the image on the front of all my proposals is my trusty typewriter image. Sometimes it’s in black and white, other times I play around with the filters. How do I get it on to the page?

  1. Click on Uploads
  2. Click on chosen image
  3. Scale it to the page

It then looks like this:

Canva setup24

You can choose one of your own images (like I did) or you can search the Canva images for something that would fit well with the project in question, the service you’re offering or the company you’re dealing with. Perhaps look at the images from your own website – it’s a good way to reinforce your company in their mind.

Step 2 Add text

Once I’ve selected the image, I add some text:

  1. Zoom in on the page so you can see what you’re doing!
  2. Click on text on the sidebar (left hand side of screen.)
  3. Select Heading (it’s usually best for title pages)
  4. Type your text (maybe company name, the project title and the date.)
  5. Change font size and colour to suit your preferences.
  6. Play around with the positioning of the text (you might want to move your image a bit, if it interferes with the text.)

Here’s what I came up with:

Canva setup25

Step 3 Work on the contents

With each page of my proposals, I include a heading, a small icon to the right and the all-important text. So, for example, on the first page, I provide an overview of the project brief, with a bit of background and the stats of the project. I always like to ensure that the client sends me a brief before I produce the proposal, and I include it within this page. This is for two main reasons:

  1. The client knows that I have listened to and absorbed their requirements.
  2. There is a record of what has been requested.

This is how a typical Project Outline page might look:

Canva setup26

If you like, you can transfer your usual proposal wording from a Microsoft Word file on to your proposal pages within Canva (just copy and paste them). If you choose to do this, I would advise copy and pasting each paragraph and heading separately, as you cannot have different fonts, or font sizes/colours/formats within one text block. Use the gridlines to make sure that everything is aligned.

A nice tip for the Project outline page is to include a graphic, icon or image from your client – for example…

If it’s a website localisation, why not have a screenshot of their website at the bottom of the page?

It adds another degree of personalisation and helps your client imagine what it will be like working with you on the project.

Follow the same steps for each page of your proposal. You can check out my example list of contents in the Resources Kit I referred you to, along with notes on each item, but for now, here’s my recommended list of pages:


Project outline (with overview, background & breakdown of text)

Project timeline (when they can expect to hear from me, receive drafts etc)

Pricing breakdown (I price per project)

Contract terms (project duration, start date, payment terms, quote validity, content amendments & delivery format)

Proposal acceptance (needs to be signed & returned to me)

Company registration & financial details (to save separate emails from their finance department)

And that’s it! Once you’ve finalised the content for your proposal, download it as a PDF (we went through this in Part 1 of the Yes We Canva! series.) I always recommend you print it out and read through it, not just to check for errors and omissions, but also to check that everything is aligned and nothing’s disappeared off the page.

Organisational tips

Something that I do in Canva, which has saved me having to trawl through all of my designs, is to create folders for each design type. On the left sidebar on your main screen (the one where you see all your designs) you’ll notice there’s an option called +Add new folder (it’s about halfway down.) Click on that and then type in a name for your folder, e.g. CV. You can then drag and drop your documents into the correct folder. One note here though – this does not remove your designs from this main page, they’ll still all be on display, but if you want to look for a particular set of documents, for example, all your proposals, you can click on the folder name to access them.

Next time….

So today we looked at creating your CV and pricing proposals using Canva. In the next post in this Canva series, I’m going to take you through a few more design options, as well as having a look at using the Canva for WordPress plugin, so you can easily add awesome graphics to your blog posts.

Questions or comments?

If you’ve got any burning Canva questions you’d like to ask me before Friday’s post, just leave a comment below or email me at If you enjoyed today’s post, don’t forget to share it on social media, you can use the hashtag #yeswecanva and connect with me on @Jo_SilverT or on the Silver Tongue Facebook page.

Like video better?

This blog series is even better on video….so just add your details in the box below and you’ll receive the series to your inbox next week. I share my screen and take you through all the functions we talked about….you can even follow along at the same time if you fancy.

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