Table of Contents

  1. What is DesignPLUS?
  2. Launch the Design Tools
  3. Create/Edit Content
  4. Upload/Embed Image Tool
  5. Accessibility Tools
  6. Tips and Tricks
  7. Resources and Help

1. What is DesignPLUS?

If you feel like you have a comfortable grasp of Canvas, then you may want to use DesignPLUS to help style your Canvas pages. DesignPLUS is a collection of software tools that are integrated within Canvas to extend and enhance many of Canvas’s tools and features. As an example of how DesignPLUS can enhance the layout of your Canvas pages, take a look at these before and after screenshots and watch the video below.

DesignPLUS is a collection of tools, but this help document will mostly focus on Design Tools. There is also a small portion of the training dedicated to the Embed/Upload Image tool. The following video mentions another tool, called Multi-Tool, which is not covered by this help document.

What can Design Tools for Canvas do for you?

Because DesignPLUS has a lot of tools and functionality, this Help Doc is designed to introduce you to some of its most useful features by directing you to specific sections of the DesignPLUS User Guide. As you read through the different features, we strongly encourage you to experiment with DesignPLUS in your Canvas development (DEV) site.

If you do not have a DEV site, you can request one by visitingHow do I request a Canvas development (DEV) site?

The features and topics that we will highlight in the rest of this Help Doc are:
  • Launch the Design Tools
  • Create/Edit Content
  • Upload/Embed Image Tool
  • Accessibility Tools
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Resources and Help

Back to top

2. Launch the Design Tools

First off, you will need to know how to open Design Tools in Canvas. See the following guide on how to access Design Tools.
Once you’ve launched Design Tools, watch the video below to get an idea of the interface. However, don’t get overwhelmed by its many features. We will guide you to the more essential features that most faculty will find useful.

Introducing the Design Tools Interface

Useful Tips for Launching Design Tools

  • When in Edit mode in the Rich Content Editor, press Alt+Shift+D to turn the tool on (Note: for mobile devices such as Microsoft Surface, try Control-1 as a keyboard shortcut)
  • You can turn off Design Tools by pressing the X in the top right
  • You can toggle "Automatically launch Tools" and "Show launch button" in the settings

Back to top

3. Create/Edit Content

The key feature of Design Tools is to help you create or edit content on your Canvas pages so that it is more visually appealing, thus improving the student experience. The before and after screenshots mentioned above illustrate some of what you can do to enhance the look and layout of your average Canvas page. Watch this next video to get an idea of how to create content using Design Tools.

Creating Content with Design Tools

Since there are different elements to creating and editing content, we recommend that you review each page in this module and practice using each tool as you go.

Back to top

4. Upload/Embed Image Tool 

You probably already add occasional images to your Canvas course, but with DesignPLUS, you’ll find that the process is easier and has greater functionality. Watch this video to see how to use the Upload/Embed Image tool.

Working with Images Using Design Tools

You can also read over the pages below to see how to use the upload and embed image tool.

Back to top

5. Accessibility Tools 

Design Tools has a tool to make sure the content on your Canvas pages is accessible so that students with disabilities can easily understand the content and layout. This video demonstrates how to use this tool.

Improving Accessibility of Content Using Design Tools

Read over the following page and follow the steps to check your Canvas pages for accessibility.

Back to top

6. Tips and Tricks 

Below are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you start using Design Tools. Using a new tool can be a bit difficult and even frustrating at times, so keeping in mind the following can help.

Undo Most Mistakes with Ctrl+Z

Pressing Ctrl+Z on your keyboard initiates an “Undo” interaction with most text editing programs, including the Rich Content Editor in Canvas. This reverses the last change made to the text. See the following Canvas Guide to learn a little more about the Rich Content Editor.
What this means is that when you make a mistake using Design Tools, you can usually press Ctrl+Z to reverse that mistake and start over. This is a very helpful skill to have when learning how to create things using this tool. Though, be warned, sometimes with Design Tools this doesn't work, so make sure to practice with it and see how you can use it.

Restore Previous Page History

Whether using Design Tools in Canvas or not, sometimes it is easy to make mistakes when creating Canvas pages for your course. Occasionally, we even make mistakes and accidentally save the progress. Fortunately, Canvas has a way to fix these mistakes. When you save a page, it shows up in the page history, and that page can then be reverted to a previous version. The following Canvas Guide shows you how to do this.
We recommend saving often and using the page history to restore previous pages when you make a mistake.

Banner Text

When editing a page created by Design Tools, there is usually some text at the top of the screen giving the name of the page, and sometimes more information such as the module number. This is called “banner text” by Design Tools.

We recommend that you use the Design Tools interface, to the right of the screen, when editing this text. Editing it directly in the Rich Content Editor could cause some problems.

To customize banner text, expand the Create/Edit Content panel in the Design Tools interface, then expand the Customize Banner Text options.

Also, content block titles could cause some similar issues, but there is no way to use the Design Tools interface to rename them. We recommend that you try to edit them, but be ready to use Ctrl+Z or to restore a previous version of the page if the page accidentally formats poorly.

Copying Existing Content Saves Time

There are multiple ways that you can import content quickly from one page to another. The first step is to click the “Copy Existing Content” link, which you can find through the menu, or click the first icon in the top left corner of the Design Tools interface.

Template Pages

This is for people who have created their own templates at the course level. We generally do not recommend using this tool.

All Course Pages

This allows you to quickly pull in any page that you have already created in your course. This is great if you are using consistent page design, such as if all of your quizzes have different content but otherwise look the same.

Institution Templates

This is a set of preprogrammed templates that will help you get a page started.

Copy Content by URL

This allows you to copy a URL from a Canvas page in another course, and bring in that content and design.

Back to top

7. Resources and Help 

Contact eLearning Support

If you have any other questions or want more training, we would be happy to help you. Feel free to email or call us to schedule a consultation.

Ext.: 5125 option #3

Cidi Labs Knowledge Base

You may find it useful to go straight to the Cidi Labs Knowledge Base. Cidi Labs created DesignPLUS and have several help docs that answer frequently asked questions.

Back to top