A free photoshop-style program, Canva is the ideal tool to create a professional-looking menu that avoids the pitfalls of word documents and clip art. You can upload your own images and arrange the layout to fit whatever style menu jacket you choose. Once you build a menu template in Canva you can easily update your menu prices and seasonal items as needed. You can also create your own graphics in Canva, which is ideal if you are opening a new restaurant and need to design a logo or some other personal branding for your business.
Should You Buy Canva or Use the Free Version
Canva is a free photoshop-style program that allows users to create all sorts of different graphics and materials, from posters to Facebook Posts to infographics. It is hands-down one of my favorite tools to create beautiful image-based material.
Like many editing programs, Canva does offer a paid subscription which gives you more bells and whistles like professional-quality photos and graphics. I use Canva A LOT and the free version suits all my needs. So unless you are planning on doing a lot of editing, I would hold off on purchasing the paid version.
Write Out All Your Text
There are a couple of important steps I recommend you do prior to creating your menu Canva. You should write out all your text in a word document. You can type text directly in Canva, but I find it easier to write it out in Word and paste it.
A menu description should be vivid and enticing enough to make a guest’s mouth water. Always explain what are the major ingredients are in a particular dish, and use ethnic names if they fit, to add a bit of authentic flair to the menu description. A good rule of thumb when writing the descriptions of your menu items is to keep it short and simple.
Take Photos of Your Menu
The next step that you will want to do before you start in Canva is to take any photos of menu items or your restaurant that you want to include in your menu. Save them to your computer, so they are ready to go when you need them. Even if you don’t plan on using photos in your menu, it’s still a good idea to have some on hand for social media posts.
Sign Up for Canva
Visit www.canva.com and sign up for an account. You will want your own account in order to upload your photos and keep track of projects. If more than one person is working on your restaurant menu, you can share projects in progress via a direct email feature.
Create Your Menu Design
Once your account is set up it’s time to start making your restaurant menu. Select "Create a design," and go to the documents section. Select the US Letter template – this is the standard 8 1/2 X 11 paper size. Each page will save as an image or PDF, so you can adjust the size as needed once it is finished.
Select a Background
Add a background. There are several free background designs to choose from, all of which can be color customized. The dark font is easiest to read, so select a lighter background.
Copy and Paste Your Text
The copy and paste feature in Canva defaults to the Trocchi script (similar to Times New Roman). If you want to customize it, there are many different fonts available. If you want to use different fonts or styles within the same block of text you will have to add in a separate text box. (It’s all or nothing with copy and paste). Mix fonts sparingly, as they make the page look busy and can be harder to read.
Add any photos. Depending on the size of your menu and printing options, you may want to add photos. Because of limited space, reserve photos for signature dishes or your best selling items. Other photos that are appropriate for your restaurant menu include photos of your dining room, bar, or even your staff. To add photos in Canva simply hit the upload your own button on the taskbar and select the photo or photos you want to upload. Then drag and drop them wherever you want them on your menu page.
Add other graphics as needed. Canva comes with a full suite of shapes, lines, borders, and generic photos. These are useful for breaking up different sections within your menu. You can also adjust the size, color and transparency of the graphics. As with Word programs, go easy with any clip art and other graphics. You want to add visual appeal to your restaurant menu, but still keep it easy to read.
Save and Print Your New Menu
Canva automatically saves your project template as you go. You can add as many pages as you need to your restaurant menu. Once you are finished, download your project as a JPG image. You may need to print and edit a couple of drafts to get the look and feel of your menu just right. If you use the project template at a later date—say you want to update your menu prices for the summer—you should copy the project and rename it first. Otherwise you any changes you make will be applied to the original template.
Other Ways to Use Canva for Your Restaurant
As I mentioned above, you can use Canva to make all sorts of promotional materials, including your restaurant logo and other signage like posters for upcoming events, special prix fixe menus for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, and social media posts for Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.