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How to Create Instagram Highlight Covers

9 min read
October 20, 2020
Instagram stories usually live on your profile for 24 hours, but you can save them and make them available for as long as you want. The IG highlights feature helps you to keep them in your feed and helps your audience to get to know you better.

This is a great way to introduce your brand to new followers. There's probably no better way to make an amazing first impression. Their placement right below your bio is the center of your followers' and the account visitors' attention. Before scrolling down your feed, the person probably will check out highlighted stories first. And if they turn out to be interesting, you might gain a new follower.

You can customize them and divide into various categories. That's why lots of brands and influencers use them to show what topics their account covers and to help the audience to navigate the profile easily.

The advantage of the highlights is that you can customize them with different colors, graphics, and patterns to build an even more beautiful aesthetic for the account. Below we're going to talk about a step-by-step guide on how to make customized Instagram highlight icons for your feed and take a look at some of the amazing pre-designed templates and the templates of some of the popular brands.

How to Make Your Own Instagram Highlight Covers

Where to start the process of creating?

  • Go to your Instagram profile
  • Tap the "+" button to start creating a new story highlight. After that, the archive, where you can see all your previously posted stories, will appear on your screen.
  • Select pictures or videos you want to add by checking the circle in the bottom-right corner of the rectangle and click next.
  • Now you should choose a name for the project. The next step requires you to make a cover.

Instagram Story Highlight Covers

Instagram lets you pick any picture and use it for this purpose. But if your ultimate goal is to make your brand stand out, then any picture might not be a good enough option. This space in your bio is responsible for making a strong impression and is capable of converting the profile visitors into followers. The good news is that it's possible to make killer content for free.

To create custom Instagram highlights, you'll need to use any free graphic design tool. Three of the most popular and favored among creators free graphic design tools are Canva, Adobe Spark, and PicMonkey (has a free trial).

Also, forget about adding a picture to the stories to make a highlight cover. You used to do it, and your followers used to scroll past it. But now you can edit things directly:

  • Go to your Instagram profile
  • Click on the highlight you want to edit
  • Choose the option Edit
  • Select the image you want to see as a cover, and you're done!
Now let's break down the process of creating.


1. Create or log in to your account on Canva. Then type the Instagram story highlight cover into the search bar. Click on this template, and you'll have the perfect sizing for the project. You can choose any template from the available and change it for your brand, or you can start a new project and create it from scratch.
istagram covers
2. To create a new project, you need to click on the Elements section from the sidebar and then choose the graphics you want to add. The list of various icons offers both free and paid options.
instagram highlight cover
3. After you choose the icon for the cover you want to see in your bio, pick a background color, and click Download. Pay attention to the size of the icon. If the picture is too large, the parts of it will be cropped by Instagram.

4. Send the picture to your mobile device and go back to the IG and tap on the "'+" button (big plus sign in the circle). Then click on your profile picture or swipe left from the home feed. Choose the picture you want to post to stories from the gallery. Click on the next and come up with a name for the section.

5. Now you need to add the newly created image to the highlight section to be able to use it as a customized cover. Click on the section you want to edit and hold, and then select the option Edit. Click on the Edit cover, and select the desired picture, and then tap Done.
instagram story covers

Adobe Spark

This is another great free graphic design tool that will help you to make beautiful highlight icons.

1. Open the tool and tap on the plus sign. Then choose a solid color and click on Next.

2. After that, you need to choose the sizing that will fit the IG requirements.

3. You'll be given an option to add text automatically. You can decide on the shape, font, color, size, add effects, etc. Type down the name of your project and adjust the settings. Save the image to your camera roll.

4. If you want for the icon to portray a picture instead of text, click on the Add an icon. Type down the theme of the project and choose the picture from the collection of associated images. Adjust the settings and save the image.

5. Now you can edit the cover.

And if you're a more visual learner, here's the tutorial on creating for free and without much effort using Adobe Spark.


The little circles underneath your bio is a great way to save and organize your stories. Besides, customizing them will create a more polished look for your brand on Instagram. It's a perfect opportunity to introduce the brand and encourage the followers to engage with your content.

First of all, it's important to mention that PicMonkey has a 7-day free trial, but after that, you need to pay for the subscription. The basic tariff will cost you $7.99 per month. You can start out with a free trial, and then choose the desired tariff and subscribe.

To start creating a customized icon, you need:
1. Start the project with a blank canvas. From the homepage, scroll down to the blank canvases templates section and tap on See all blanks. Then select the option Instagram story highlight cover. Choose the name for your template, and open it in the editor section.

2. On the left side of your screen will be a panel where you can edit the project. Pick a background color. If you have branded hex codes, you can enter them in the text box and apply to the project.

3. Now's the time to choose the graphics. PicMonkey offers a huge variety of illustrations, but if you want to add your own image, click on the Add an image.

4. This is the part where you have the most fun. You can play with the colors of your graphics, add various effects, and create your unique style.

5. Export the final project to save it on your device, so you could upload it on Instagram later.

Cheat Code for Creating IG Highlight Covers

If you're not feeling like creating from scratch or you don't have inspiration, or whatever the reason is, you can always choose the pre-designed gorgeous template from the Canva's library and make an eye-candy from your account. You can still add various illustrations and graphics if you want to. To check out the templates, just go to the template section and pick the one you like the most. Then customize it with your brand's colors, and voila!

Template Instagram Highlight Covers

Now you know how to create them yourself. Let's talk about time-saving tips and some of the stunning examples on how to use this feature effectively to show off your brand's uniqueness.

Showcase the brand's aesthetic

There's no better place to demonstrate the favorite colors of your brand, fonts, the manner of communication with the audience than these highlighted circles.

But keep in mind that your top priority is to stay on brand and properly convey the message. Don't go overboard with too much text, emojis, and other elements.
instagram story highlight covers
instagram highlight covers free


You can divide your stories by the categories like the usual. But nobody says that you can't add something extra to your account like Red Bull. They created icons with their athletes, and all you can see is a face, a name, and an emoji. If you want to know what's inside the highlighted circle, you should tap to open it.
template instagram highlight covers
Another example is the New York Times. They keep things more official by highlighting difficult political subjects and fun things using simple design and readable headers.
how to create instagram highlight covers

Be consistent

Of course, there are no rules when it comes to highlighting your stories or organizing them in a certain way. You're free to create whatever you want.

However, some brands take another approach and organize this part of their Instagram presence the same way they do with the official website (About the brand, Team, Frequently Asked Questions, etc.). And some companies choose to organize by the categories of their products or services (New Collection, Sale, Collaboration, etc.).

When organizing, keep in mind your audience's perception and perspective. If by a glimpse at your highlights, they know what they're about to see, the chances of them tapping to open are higher.

Prioritize the most relevant stories

Think about what matters the most to your audience. What do they expect to see on your page? The winter's collection or amazing collaboration with a famous artist? Behind the scenes pictures of the fashion show? The compilation of artists who won the Grammy last night?

Take a look at how The Metropolitan Museum of Art thinks about their followers' needs. They include helpful guides to their exhibitions and virtual programs.
how to make your own instagram highlight covers
Another example is the Cosmopolitan. Look at how they created bright icons and highlighted the most relevant and interesting topics, recent articles, and projects. Also, the design of these circles fits the overall aesthetic of the account and definitely draws the attention of viewers.
instagram covers

Convert followers into customers

Covers aren't just a matter of beauty. The right covers can help you introduce the brand to the new audience, which in turn can increase conversions. If people like what they see, they are likely to swipe up, check the website, and even make a purchase.

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Answers on the most
common questions
How to create an Instagram highlight cover?
Create or log in to your account on Canva. Then type the Instagram story into the search bar. Choose a pattern from the available or start a new project and create it from scratch. Choose the graphics you want to add. After you choose the icon you want to see in your bio, pick a background color. And click Download.
How to make your own Instagram highlight covers?
You'll need to use any free graphic design tool. Three of the most popular and favored among creators graphic design tools are Canva, Adobe Spark, and PicMonkey (has a free trial).
Where can I find pre-designed templates for IG highlight covers?
If you're not feeling like creating from scratch, you can always choose the pre-designed gorgeous template from the Canva's library and make an eye-candy from your account.