How to Create Beautiful Instagram Highlight Covers (40 Free Icons)

How to Create Beautiful Instagram Highlight Covers (40 Free Icons)

Instagram highlight covers make a great first impression.

Located just below the bio section of your Instagram profile, they provide a sleek look for your Instagram highlights and draw attention to your best Instagram story content.

And you don’t have to be a hip influencer to use them. Organizations of all types, from government institutions to Fortune 500 companies, are using them to great effect.

Covers are an easy asset for any aesthetic brand. (And that’s all on Instagram.)

The good news is that even if you don’t have access to a graphic design team, these are easy to create.

We’ll walk you through all of the steps to create your own Instagram highlight covers. As a bonus, we have a free pack of symbols to help you get started.

Upload your Free Pack of 40 Customizable Instagram Stories Highlights Icons now. Optimize your profile and set your brand apart from the competition.

Create highlights so that your best story content is permanently displayed on your Instagram profile.

1. At the bottom right of your story, tap Highlight.

2. Select the highlight that you want to add your story to.

Instagram add to highlights

3. Or tap New to create a new Highlight and enter a name for it. Then click Add.

New highlight

And that’s it! You just created an Instagram highlight.

Do you have an idea for a new highlight? Or do you want to add a few different stories at the same time?

Follow these steps to create a new highlight from your Instagram profile:

1. Go to your profile and tap the + New button (the big plus sign).

Create a new Instagram highlight

2. Select the stories that you want to add to your new highlight. Pro tip: Instagram offers you an archive of your stories from years past. So don’t be afraid to dig a little for these story gems.

3. Tap on Next and give your new highlight a name.

4. Select your highlight coverage and tap Done.

You don’t have a highlight cover yet? Continue reading.

With Instagram you can use any picture for your highlight covers.

BUT your brand deserves more than “every image”.

This space is a prime property to make Lauerer followers. You want to make an impression.

If you have the time, apps like Canva Stories or Adobe Spark have pre-made covers that you can customize and use.

However, if you want more control over your Instagram brand, these steps will show you how to easily create a great Instagram highlight cover from scratch (or almost from scratch).

Step 1: Log into Canva

Log into your Canva account or create a free account at

Step 2: Create a new picture the size for Stories.

From the Canva homepage, click Create Design, then click + Custom Dimensions.

You want the dimensions of your cover to be 1080 pixels wide, 1920 pixels high, and have an aspect ratio of 9:16.

Canva creates a design with custom dimensions

Step 3: get our free icon set

Upload your Free Pack of 40 Customizable Instagram Stories Highlights Icons now. Optimize your profile and set your brand apart from the competition.

When you’re done downloading, unzip the file and choose your favorites. (You can use them with or without our professionally designed backgrounds.)

Download the free pack of customizable Instagram Stories Highlight Icons

Step 4: Upload your symbols to Canva

Click Upload Image or Video and choose your preferred PNG file. Alternatively, you can drag and drop. (One at a time, Tiger.)

Upload image or video icons to Canva

When you’ve uploaded the icon image, click on it. Don’t worry if you can’t see your icon on your canvas after uploading it. This is most likely because the icon is made up of white lines on a transparent background. We’ll fix this in the next step.

Icon white lines on transparent background

Step 5: create your background

In the left sidebar, click Bkground. You can choose a color or one of Canva’s free images. (Now your icon will appear depending on the background.)

Choose Canva Background

At this point, you can create as many highlight covers as you want

Click + Add New Page to replicate the background. Then upload another icon for each new page.

+ Add a new page to replicate the background

Upload a picture or video for each new page

Step 6: Download your highlight covers from Canva

Name your project. Then click Download in the top right. Choose your file type (PNG or JPG are both fine). Then click the Download button.

Download the highlight covers from Canva

Your covers will be downloaded to your hard drive as a zip file. Unzip it and transfer it to your phone via email, airdrop, or your preferred method.

Pro tip: Now is a good time to make sure your Story Archive is enabled on your Instagram account. This is important if you want to revisit your old stories without downloading them to your phone.

Step 7: edit your existing highlights to add your new covers

No more need to add an image to your story (which all your followers have to pass by) to make it a highlight cover. Instead, you can simply edit the highlight directly:

  1. Go to your Instagram profile.
  2. Tap on the marker whose cover you want to change.
  3. In the lower right, tap More.
  4. Tap Edit Highlight.
  5. Tap Edit Cover.
  6. Select the picture icon to access your phone’s photo library.
  7. Choose your beautiful cover.
  8. Tap Done (actually tap it three times.)

Do this for each of the stories that you want to add covers to.

Voila! Your brand-internal Instagram highlight covers now adorn your profile and unify your look. Magnifique.

5 tips for using Instagram highlight covers and icons

Now that you know how easy it is to create your own unique highlight covers, we’ve got some time-saving tips to help make them as effective as possible.

Show off the aesthetics of your brand

Your brand has their favorite colors, fonts, capitalization – and maybe even some favorite emojis. Your highlight covers are definitely the place to go to show these off.

However, remember that less is more. Those little portholes are pretty small after all. Clarity is the key.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Your Instagram highlights don’t have to do everything. You can do one thing very well.

For example, Red Bull’s highlights used to be pretty conventional (e.g. events, projects, videos, etc.). Now they give each of their athletes their own highlight. We only get a face, a name and an emoji. Fascinating.

Instagram highlights from the Red Bull athletes

The New York Times now takes stories literally. They fill their climaxes with exhaustive but readable bases on complicated political issues. They also create fun, nutritious stories on engaging subjects.

The NY Times Instagram sheds light on the fundamentals of political issues

In both cases, her cover style is perfectly consistent, which helps to better manage the wide reach of her subjects.

Be consistent in your organization

There are absolutely no rules for organizing your Instagram highlights. (Brb, my inner librarian has to take antacids.)

However, some brands organize their highlights as they do on their website (e.g. info, team, FAQ). Some brands organize by collection or product (e.g. Winter ’20, New Arrivals, Makeup Line).

I’m here to tell you that whichever way you choose to organize, remember to look at it from your audience’s perspective.

In other words, if they know what they’re going to see, they’re more likely to type.

Highlight the stories that matter most

Ask yourself what’s most important to your audience. What can you see here? This season’s collection? Today’s schedule? Or something that will come in handy in the longer term, like how to pair your flagship earbuds?

The Met, for example, prioritizes potential visitors. It has a helpful guide to this week’s exhibitions at the top of the highlight reel.

The Met highlight prioritizes potential visitors

Convert your audience into customers

With the right cover sheets, you can add new eyes to your best shoppable stories and swipe-up content (if you have an Instagram for Business profile with 10,000+ followers). For example, use our shopping bag icon.

For more tips on how to sell products using your Instagram Stories, check out our complete guide to shopping on Instagram.

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