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How to Customize Instagram Stories Highlights

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Do you use Instagram? ?Have you tried the newest Instagram feature – Instagram Stories Highlights? As I was strolling through Instagram this past weekend, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the brands I follow had customized their Instagram Stories Highlights. Which really caught my eye and left me wondering, “How’d they do that?!

Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!

I’m not claiming to be an Instagram guru, but I do sometimes get a little lost scrolling through all the inspiring images on Instagram! But, there was just something about Instagram Stories Highlights that really caught my eye. I especially like for things to be organized, cohesive and make sense. So, I’m sure that’s why I was drawn to this fabulous idea of customizing my Instagram Stories Highlights.

I’m really just beginning to really use Instagram and all its features. If you use Instagram strictly for personal use, you may not be as interested in the Highlights feature. As a blogger or small business owner, you just might find this new feature very useful! What I like about the Highlights feature is that you can create and save permanent collections of Instagram Stories (you can learn more about Instagram Stories here) that will reside right on your Instagram Profile forever – or until you remove it.

Can’t you just see or imagine the potential this new feature adds?! So, today let’s talk about:

  • What are Instagram Stories Highlights
  • How to Use Instagram Stories Highlights
  • How to Customize the Highlight Cover Image

Learn How to Customize #Instagram Stories Highlights by The Birch Cottage

What are Instagram Stories Highlights+

You may be asking yourself, “What are Instagram Stories Highlights, anyway?” As you probably know, what you share in Instagram Stories disappears after 24 hours. With Highlights, you have the option of saving your Story as a Highlight. So, you can keep on sharing that story. Again, you can learn more about Stories here.
When you save a Story to your Highlights, it resides right in your Instagram profile, just below your bio and right above your feed. If someone taps on your Highlight, it will will play as a stand-alone story and this feature is literally front and center, jumping out at you, on your profile. And it stays there until you remove it – front and center!

Learn How to Customize Instagram Stories Highlights by The Birch Cottage
How to Use Instagram Stories Highlights

Highlights are created using the content you shared in your Instagram Stories.

  1. Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure the Auto-Archiving feature is turned on:
    • Go to your profile in Instagram.
    • Tap on your profile image.
    • Tap on Settings icon at the top left of the screen.
    • From the Story Settings screen, scroll down to Saving and make sure Save to Archive is On.
      Customize #Instagram Stories Highlights by The Birch Cottage
  2. Now you’re ready to create your first Highlight.
    • If you haven’t created a Highlight yet, when you go to your profile page, you’ll see Story Highlights just below your bio. Tap on the arrow to expand the story highlights area. Then tap on the + New button.
    • Then you’ll select the Instagram Story (or stories) you want to save to your Highlights. You can select one or multiple images by tapping on the circle located in the bottom right corner of every Story image.
    • Once you have the images selected, tap Next. Type in the name of your Highlight.
    • Tap on Edit Cover. You can now select one of the images to be your cover image by tapping one of the thumbnail images near the bottom of your screen. You can move and even zoom in and out on the cover image in the preview area.
    • Tap on Done at the top right of your screen.
    • Tap on Add at the top right of your screen.

Now for the fun part….

How to Customize Instagram Stories Highlights Cover Images

Besides the fact that you can now put front and center the exact content you want customers to see when they visit your profile, you can customize the cover image for each Highlight category in order to create a more appealing or cohesive brand image.

Before I began to customize my cover images, I asked myself what exactly is important to me (The Birch Cottage Blog) for my customers to know. What content do I want to be front and center? As of today, I chose categories. I want customers to know I share Free Printables, Crochet, Recipes, DIY projects and the list goes on. These categories may be different for you.

The other thing that I really liked was having a theme with my cover images. I am really fond of these watercolor daisies that I have and I chose to use a variation of that image for each Highlights category. Here’s the method I used to create cohesive and uniform customized Instagram Stories Highlights Cover Images using Canva. Canva is free, online and so easy to use!

Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!

Create an Instagram Stories Highlights Cover Image using Canva

  1. Create a Canva Account
    1. Create a free account with Canva by going to
    2. Select the account type that is appropriate for you (Education, Blog, Personal, etc.)
    3. You can sign up with an existing Google account or use your email address. Personal accounts can also signup using their Facebook login.
    4. Canva will then ask you “What do you do?” in an attempt to deliver content that best meets your needs. Click on a description that is appropriate, such as Blogger. Continue to follow the on-screen prompts. Depending on what you selected for your account type, you may be asked if you want to setup a team or other feature. You can skip these steps clicking on the “Skip” link at the bottom of the page.
    5. Canva will then ask you what type of image you’d like to create. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Play with Canva.
    6. You may be presented with a little 2 minute tutorial video. Watch the video as it will help you to know how to navigate and use Canva. (At any point, you can simply click on the Canva logo at the top left of the screen to go to the main menu.) You’re now ready to start using Canva!
      Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!
  2. Create a Cover Image
    1. You will create a Custom Image that is 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels high (1080×1920) or with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
    2. Click on the Use Custom Dimensions button at the top right corner of the screen.
    3. Type 1080 in the width box and 1920 in the height box. Make sure px is selected as the image type and click on Design! A new window will open with your blank design.
      Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!
    4. You are now ready to create your image. You can specify the layout, add elements, text and backgrounds, and even upload your own image. Since I already had the images I wanted to use for my design, I clicked on Uploads then clicked on Upload Your Own Images.
      Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!
    5. Once you click on Upload Your Own Images, a window will pop-up where you can specify the files or images you want to upload from your computer. Select the files and click on Open. The images will be uploaded to your Canva library where they will be saved and you can access them at anytime.
    6. Click on or drag the uploaded image that you want to add to your design. It should automatically transfer to your design space. You can resize the image and move it around on the design space.
    7. For my design, I wanted the flower right in the middle so I added a square shape to my design as a sort of placeholder that I could later delete. To do so, click on Elements and then Shapes. The shape is added to your design space. Again, you can resize and drag to move the shape around.
    8. Hover your mouse over the shape until you have the cross arrows and then click and drag the shape around until you see a set of vertical and horizontal dashes indicating the shape is in the center of the design space and then release the mouse button.
    9. You can now move your design around and resize it so that it is centered inside the centered shape and on your design the way you want. Remember, you’re going to share this image on your Stories first, so you want the full image to be appeasing and deliver a message that is cohesive with your brand.
    10. You can add background images, text or other elements to your design. Keep in mind that you’ll also be able to add elements to the image in Instagram, if you want. I added text to my images by clicking on Text and then clicking on Add Heading.
    11. Type the text in the text field that you want to appear on your design. You can change the font type, size and color. This is your design make it to suit you and your brand!
    12. You can create multiple images at the same time. You can start with a blank canvas by clicking on Add a New Page or you can duplicate the design onto a new page by clicking on Copy icon located just to the right of your design space.
    13. Once you’re ready to download your image, click on Download from the menu bar at the top of the screen.
    14. Select your file type from the drop down list. Specify whether you want to download all pages or just a specific page in your design. Click on Download. You should know that when you download multiple pages/images, the images are downloaded into a ZIP file to your computer. Simply click on the ZIP file (or locate and double-click) to open.
    15. Then click on Extract All Files. You’ll be prompted to specify the location to save the files.
    16. Once your files are saved, you can then send them to yourself so you can upload them to Instagram. I simply emailed them to my iPhone, downloaded the images and then uploaded them to Instagram.
      (As an alternative, you can also use an app like Planoly!)

Setup Your Customized Instagram Stories Highlights Cover Images

Now that you have turned on auto-archive and created the images you will be sharing to your Instagram Stories and saving as a Highlight, you’re ready to customize your Instagram Stories Highlights cover images. Finally! Right?!

I’m assuming you already know how to upload the image to your Instagram Stories. But, here’s a brief overview:

  1. Upload your image to Instagram Stories
    1. From your mobile device, go to your Instagram app and launch Instagram.
    2. Click on the Profile icon in the bottom right corner of your screen.
    3. Tap on your Profile Image.
    4. Tap on the Profile Image with the Plus (add) sign in the top left corner of your Stories screen.
    5. Tap on the Stories Library icon in the bottom left corner of your screen. The next screen will show your camera library from the last 24 hours only.
    6. Tap on the image you want to add to your Stories (and ultimately your Stories Highlights).
      Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!
    7. Edit the image as you see fit (remove date, add text, emojis, etc.). When you’re done editing your image, tap on the plus sign above your Story at the bottom of your screen to add the image to your Stories.
      Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!
  2.  Save Your Instagram Story Image to Highlights
    1. With your customized image uploaded to your Stories, go to your Instagram app and launch Instagram from your mobile device.
    2. Click on the Profile icon in the bottom right corner of your screen.
    3. Tap on your Profile Image, this will open your Instagram Stories.
    4. Tap on the Highlight icon at the bottom of your screen. The Add to Highlights window will pop-up.
    5. Select the category you want to add the customized image to by tapping on the category or tap on the New button to create a new category for your Highlights. The Story image will be saved to your Highlights.
      • If you click on New, you’ll be prompted to Name the new Highlight and then you’ll simply click on Add. The image will be saved to your new Highlight.
    6. From your profile page, press on the Highlight you want to edit (press, not tap). Then select Edit Highlight.
      Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!
    7. The Edit Highlight screen will open. You can specify or change the name of the Highlight. Simply tap in the Name field and type in the name that you want displayed.
    8. Tap on Edit Cover. The Edit Cover window will open.
    9. Select the cover image from the thumbnail view of the available images in that category at the bottom right corner of your screen by tapping on the image you want to select.
    10. The selected cover image will display in the circle in the center of your screen. You can move the image around by tapping and sliding the image. You can also zoom in and out by pinching the image (literally place your thumb and forefinger on your screen and pinch, gliding your fingers across the screen using a pinching motion). Once you have the image edited the way you want it to appear, tap on Done.
    11. You’ll be taken back to the Edit Highlight screen. Tap on Done.
    12. The customized image should now appear in your Instagram Highlights.

Learn how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights to help promote your content!

Wowser, right?! The instructions make it sound much more complicated and intimidating than it really is. Once you’ve done this once or twice, it will just be second nature to you.  I promise!

Download Printable Instructions for Instagram Stories Highlights

So, I know this is a lot to take in and I thought it might be helpful to have the instructions in a PDF format that you can save for later or print and use as you go through the steps a few times. To download the free printable instructions click here or on the image below.

Download free printable instructions for how to customize Instagram Stories Highlights

The download is a 14 page PDF document that includes all the step-by-step instructions contained in this post. I have tested the instructions, but sometimes I find it difficult to proofread my own work. If you find any discrepancies or have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll try to assist you as quickly as I can.

I just really think this is a fantastic Instagram feature that will allow you to put the content you want your customers/followers (and potential new customers and followers) to see right in front of their eyes and in a way that is appeasing, completely customizable with your brand and engaging.

If (I should say “when”) you give this a try, I’d absolutely love to hear about it! Just leave me a comment below – or better yet, follow me on Instagram and leave me a DM!

Happy sharing!

Pam from The Birch Cottage

P.S.: I don’t share a lot on The Birch Cottage blog on the topping of blogging, because that’s simply not my focus. But, when I do find something that I think might be beneficial to my readers, I just can’t wait to share it. So, if you’re here learning about #instagram, you just might also be interested in the following posts:

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Darla at HeartWork Organizing

Monday 5th of February 2018

Great detail in this post! Thanks!

Pamela Baker

Monday 5th of February 2018

Thank you! I really tried to be accurate and thorough! Hope this helps!!

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