How to customize and edit the PDF using the Canvas PDF Designer

NOTE: This article refers to the new Canvas PDF Designer.  If you are looking to customize the Standard PDF, please click here.

The Canvas PDF Designer allows you to customize the output of the data that you submit through the Canvas application.

You may watch the video or skip down below it to read about it.


Opening the PDF Designer

To launch the PDF Designer, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to your My Apps page on the Canvas website. 
  2. Hover over My Home then click My Apps
  3. Find the application on your account with the PDF output to be designed or updated.  In-line with the application name, select the blue Edit PDF icon.

Navigating the PDF Designer

The PDF Designer is split in two main sections. 

On the left panel you will find:

  • App Outline - the fields that you have currently in your app
  • Elements – static elements such as text and images that can be placed into your PDF
  • Setting – stylistic settings that you can apply to text and tables

The main portion of the PDF Designer is where you format your output.  Here you can add columns, section, drag fields or elements from the left panel to your output, resize images, and more!

Adding Fields to the PDF output

Before adding fields to the PDF design, you will first need to add a section – the location where the field will be placed.  Hover your mouse over the main part of the PDF Designer to reveal the Click to Add Section option.  Once a section has been added, you can divide the section into columns at any time.  Hover over the section to view the Add a column and Remove a column buttons.  Learn more about columns here.

You can also automatically add a section by dragging a field from the app outline to the bottom of your design.

A header and footer section are added by default when creating a new PDF Design.  If left blank, they will not appear on the PDF.

NOTE: The maximum height of the header and footer is currently 150px.

From the App Outline Tab

  1. On the left panel, click the top icon to reveal the App Outline.  You can expand or collapse sections, the screen in your Canvas app, by clicking on the name of the section title.
    App Outline Tab
  2. Find the field that you want to add.
  3. While clicking on the field, drag it to the corresponding section in your design.

You can add multiple fields to a single section or column.  Adding a second field will place it directly on top or below the existing field.  When a field has been successfully added to the design, the field will be highlighted in blue in the app outline.

Selected Field in App Outline

If your application contains a List (Simple) screen, all fields will be linked in the App Outline.  Dragging the linked fields from the App Outline into the designer will create a table.  You can learn more about adding lists to your app here.

From the Elements Tab

On the left panel, click the middle Elements icon.  When clicked you will see five options to add static text, images, social media icons, page breaks, or submission numbering.

Elements Tab

Any of these elements can be added to an existing or new section in your PDF by dragging the element from the left panel into the design.

Click here to learn more about adding static elements to your PDF.

Formatting Text and Fields

To customize the text color, text size, and borders in our PDF design, click on the Gear icon in the left panel to open the Property Settings tab.

There are two ways to customize text and fields in your design: globally, which applies to the entire design, or by field, which will only customize the selected field.

Global Settings

  • General – General settings allow you to change font, text color, text size, and vertical spacing (the spacing between fields).
  • Fields – Field settings allow you to add borders across all of the fields in your PDF as well as an option to include or exclude field labels.
  • Table Header and Table Rows – If you have a List (Simple) screen in your PDF design, you can use the Table Header and Table Row settings to format the table’s colors and borders.

Field Settings

To see individual field settings, click in a field in your design.  When selected, a blue box will appear around the field and field settings automatically opened.

  • General – Field specific general settings let you select a background color for your field, set text alignment within a section, and set text emphasis (such as bold, italic, and underline).
  • Other – Other includes the same formatting options found in the global settings; however, these can be applied to individual fields.
  • Use Global Properties – This check box determine whether or not you want the field to use the same global formatting defined in the “Global Settings” tab.  Deselect this option if you want the field to have unique formatting.

For more information about formatting your text and fields here.

Previewing the Design

You can preview the design by clicking the Preview button in the top right corner of the PDF Designer.  If you have already created submissions using the app, a preview will download using data from the most recent submission.  If not, a blank preview will generate.

Using your PDF Design

Once your design is complete, you will need to switch your app settings from sending the Standard Canvas PDF to the PDF Designer.  If this is the first time you are saving your design, you will automatically be prompted to choose if you would like your submissions to use the PDF Designer Output.  If this is not the first time saving the PDF Design and your submissions are not currently using a previous version of the design, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Save button in the top right corner of the Designer then Close out of the PDF Designer.
  2. Go back to your My Apps page on the Canvas website.
  3. Click the name of your form.  This will take you to the App Details page.
  4. Scroll to the Options header and select Email Options.
  5. In the PDF to send as attachment drop-down, choose Designer.
  6. Click Update at the bottom of the page.

In summary, to customize your PDFs you can use our PDF Designer. You can find the PDF Designer button beside each of your Apps under My Apps. Once in the PDF Designer you can add and arrange fields however you would like. You can also add text, images, or social medias to your PDFs, as well as, customize your text color, size and borders. When you're done you can preview the design by clicking the Preview button. Once you approve of your PDF, save it in the PDF Designer and then go to your app's email options to set the app to use your customized PDF.

If you have any questions about the PDF Designer, Canvas, or need help replacing paper based forms with an Android or Apple device, please don't hesitate to contact us.