Canva is awesome. I don’t even have to ask opinions…we can all just agree and move on.
But, for as much work they’ve put into helping non-design professionals create stunning graphics, there are some face-slappingly obvious features that don’t exist. I’m sure there are good reasons as to why such features are missing, but for someone putting the final touches on a project, only to not be able to simply outline text with a click of a button to finish up is a bit silly.
So, I’ve put this tutorial together as a workaround. Murphy’s law will probably lead to Canva rolling out the feature the day after this goes live, but so be it. Here are a few other hacks and shortcuts, if you needed them.
And, please note. I’ve gotten some feedback that this isn’t outlining, but more shadowing. While I somewhat agree, you can achieve an outline look if you line up your layers properly. With what I’m showing below, my layers are more offset, so it appears more like a shadow. But, if you put the layers directly on top of each other, and make your bottom layer slightly bigger, you can achieve as close to an outline as possible.
With that, here you go!
How to Outline Text in Canva
1. Create Text
Go to the “Create a Design” button and choose a new layout, and then add text. If you already have a design in progress, you can certainly use that; just select the text.
Here I’m using Knewave font, size 80.
2. Create a Copy of Your Text
Once you’re happy with your text, go ahead and create a copy. You can do so by selecting the layer and clicking “ctrl” or “command” + “c” to copy and then “ctrl” or “command” + “v” to paste (make sure you’re only selecting the layer, and are not inside the editable text box). I personally find it easier to simply select the layer and then click the “copy” button on the top right of the screen.
After, you’ll have two identical layers that would look something like this mess:
3. Change the Color of One Text Layer
Now that you have two identical text layers, select one (doesn’t matter which). Navigate up to the “Pick a Color” box and choose the color you want for your outline.
I chose white:
4. Move the Outline Layer to the Back
Now, you should have two layers with identical text, but different colors. To ensure you changed the color of the text you actually want as the outline, select the text layer you intend to be the outline (as opposed to the main text being outlined).
Then, go up to the top right again and select “arrange.” Click “back” to the point where you can clearly see your main text layer on top of your outline text layer.
5. Arrange Your Text Layers for Optimal Outline
From here, the rest is really up to you, as you now have the freedom to place your outline layer in any direction, and, at varying proximities. Just click and drag the outline layer as you would any object, and then “nudge” the layer into your desired position with the arrow buttons on your keyboard.
Here are some examples:
As you can see, you can set the outline above or below the main text, or to the left, to the right, or even diagonal. You’ll also get different looks the closer you move the outline text to (or away from) the main text layer.
Anyway, super easy, but never as easy as simply clicking a shortcut button, when the feature arrives (if ever). Here’s a video walkthrough, too. Please feel free to ask questions if you get stuck!