How to create a fillable PDF workbook using Canva

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Whether you want to create a workbook for an online workshop, a welcome guide for clients, a planner, or any other kind of interactive, fillable PDF, read on (or watch the video below) for the step-by-step on how to create a workbook in Canva and how to add fillable fields to it using a free online tool.

Don’t want to start from scratch? Get one of my E-book/Workbook Templates to get you started quickly! They’re available in US Letter as well as A4 size.

Before you start designing

Write & Edit your text ahead of time, so it’s done and ready to go when you start designing

Before you start designing, I recommend you write the text for your workbook or worksheet in Google Docs or something similar, the design process will go much faster if your text is already done and ready to go.

DIY Design tip: Keep it simple

And when you’re designing your workbook in Canva, one easy way to make your DIY design look great is to keep it simple. Don’t go overboard with colors, patterns, and background images.

For workbooks and worksheets especially, keep it simple. Be kind to your people. Some people might prefer to print it out and fill it out by hand. So you don’t want to use a lot of colors everywhere.

Don’t add multiple single-line text boxes for paragraph answers

When clients hire me to redesign their workbooks, I notice one common pitfall a lot of DIY-ers make. They’ve created lines for their students or participants to write on, then added single-line boxes to type in on each line.

The problem with this is that people can’t keep typing but would have to click over to a new line instead. It’s easier for your workshop participants to fill out digitally if the fillable parts are boxes that have multi-line fields, so they can keep typing and it just uses the space there is, instead of them having to click on another line if they type a lot of text.

How to design your workbook in Canva

Create a new design in Canva. It can be any size you like, although common sizes are US Letter or A4 (international). I use A4 size in the video as well as in the screenshots below.

How do you create a digital workbook from a template?

Don’t want to start from scratch? Get one of my E-book/Workbook Templates to get you started quickly! They’re available in US Letter as well as A4 size.

My E-book/Workbook Templates have 89 pages including cover page designs, section/chapter title page layouts, and A LOT of different types of content page layouts, such as roadmaps, challenges, and planners, and of course, worksheet pages.

Choose from multiple page variations, duplicate and rearrange pages to create endless ebook and workbook layouts.

Designing the title page for your interactive PDF workbook, planner or guide

Click Photos on the left-hand side and choose a photo to use as the background image for your cover page.

Depending on the photo, you may want to add a block where you can put your title. To do so, click Elements on the left-hand side, and select a square or another shape you want to use for this. You can use a color or use a white block that you make slightly transparent.

Click Text on the left-hand side and add your title. You can also add your name, program or course name, and any other information you want to add on your title page.

Designing a worksheet for your editable PDF workbook, planner or guide

Click Text on the left-hand side and add a heading, subheading, or body text, or pick from one of the text templates Canva provides. Change the font and color to make it fit your brand. Add some text to introduce your worksheet and explain everything someone needs to know before filling it out.

Then, add the visuals for your fields. Add the labels or questions for the fields the same way you add any other text. Add the field background by using shapes from the Elements menu in Canva.

When you’re done designing your worksheet, hit the Download button in the top right corner of Canva. Download it as a PDF. For our purposes, whether it’s Standard or Print doesn’t matter.

How to add fillable fields to your PDF workbook or worksheet and make your PDF interactive

Open the free online PDF editor from PDFescape. Select Upload PDF to PDFescape and upload the PDF you just created in Canva. At the top left, you can choose to insert a Form Field. You can choose from these types:

PDF Escape - Form Field options

Text – for just one line of text, such as name or email address.

Text Paragraph – for a paragraph of text, like a comment box.

Checkbox – For a “Yes, I agree” checkbox, or, of course, a checklist.

Radiobutton – For a list of choices where only one choice can be made, like Yes/No.

Dropdown – For a list of choices where only one choice can be made. The list is only visible when it’s opened by clicking the arrow. Useful for a large list of choices, such as countries or U.S. states.

Listbox – Similar to a dropdown, but shows more options at once and allows for multiple options to be selected.

Reset button – clears input from all the fields

Submit button – if you want the form to be sent somewhere

Click and drag over the fields you designed in Canva to create the fillable fields. If you make a mistake, you can change the size of the fillable fields by clicking and dragging a black square in the corners of the field. You can delete a field by right-clicking the field and then selecting Delete Object.

Finally, click the green box with two white arrows pointing down to save & download your fillable PDF.

Save & download your fillable PDF from PDFEscape

Open the PDF you downloaded, check that your interactive workbook is working as expected, go back and make changes if needed, then upload it to your website, your course platform, or if it’s an opt-in freebie, your mailing list provider.

FAQ

What tools do you use to create worksheets, job aids, and workbooks for clients’ products and courses?

When I’m designing worksheets and workbooks for clients, I use InDesign. That’s professional software that allows much more control over different design and typography elements, including page layout such as a page spread with 2 pages next to each other. It also has no limit on the number of pages per PDF (Canva has a limit of 100 pages per design – you’d have to export multiple PDFs and merge them together if yours has more pages). It also has the option to add fillable fields right inside the design.

However, InDesign has a huge learning curve and if you’re not planning on becoming a designer yourself, I recommend DIYing your worksheets and workbooks with Canva, which is a lot easier and has everything you need to create gorgeous workbooks. Follow the tutorial above to create fillable workbooks using Canva.

anouska-hi

I'm Anouska

I help solopreneurs to stop struggling with code and Canva. You can spend your time and energy showing up for your clients and promoting your offers. Learn more.

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