Create Your Own Covers for Your Instagram Stories Highlights

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Heidi Lang

Instagram Tips | Oct 18, 2021

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You can always count on Instagram to find new and creative ways to give users more freedom and opportunities to express themselves. The Stories Highlights feature is a very good example. Instagram stories, which expire after 24 hours, are a great way to share real-time updates or, at least, as close to real-time as possible. With the Stories  Highlights, users can select and categorize stories that they want to feature on their pages for as long as they want. 

Each Stories Highlight is represented by a Highlights cover. The cover is, of course, representative of all the stories inside the particular Highlight. Most users simply choose an image from their albums to use as a cover, but covers can also be created from scratch or from templates to make them unique and symbolic and to give your Highlights section a polished and uniform aesthetic. Let’s explore the many ways that you can do this for your personal account or brand. 

Instagram Stories Highlights: The Basics

Instagram Stories are a mix of photos and short videos that can showcase real-time snippets of one’s day or any other content that a user wants to feature for that day, such as an old photo of a memorable experience or an inspirational post. Stories can also be used to share another user’s newsfeed or stories content. 

Instagram Stories Highlights allow users to organize their favorite stories into “albums” and to feature them permanently on their page. 

You’ll find the Stories Highlights section, where you can start creating your Highlights, inside Edit Profile. 

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The “New” circle on the far left and right below the Edit Profile heading will let you create a Highlight. Tap it and then choose the stories from your archive that you want to put together and feature. The first image listed in a Highlight becomes the default cover; you can edit this later. You will also be prompted to name the Highlight. Once you’ve saved your Highlight, it will become a permanent feature on your main profile page, appearing as a circle displaying the cover you have chosen. When someone taps on it, it will play all the stories inside. You can edit or delete your highlight at any time; you can also create as many highlights as you want. 

You can create different Highlights to catalog your stories according to your preferences. For brands, Stories Highlights allow anyone to easily browse through an account’s content based on what they’re specifically interested in. The stories categories effectively deliver an enhanced viewing experience and, thereby, further encourage engagement. 

Your Highlights covers are the first thing everybody sees when viewing your Stories Highlights; they serve as a guide that lets people know what to expect when they view a particular Highlight, as well as help them find what they’re looking for more quickly. 

So it’s important to use unique and suitable covers for your Highlights. A photo that represents a Highlight’s overall content theme is often good enough, but you can take the aesthetic quality of your profile one step further by creating unique icons to use as covers. For business accounts, the brand’s log can also be incorporated into customized Highlights covers. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your Highlights covers. 

  • Make sure the style of your icons are consistent with the overall theme of your Instagram page. The colors you use should be consistent with the go-to filters you use with your page content.
  • Your icon or symbol must clearly identify what’s inside a specific Highlight. This means you should also be precise with how you categorize your stories into different Highlights. 
  • Custom-made Highlights covers are ideal for businesses, giving their profile pages a polished and professional look. Take care how you choose and create your cover icons especially if you’re managing a brand account.   

Using Templates for Your Highlights Covers

Using templates from Illustrator, Photoshop, and PowerPoint is an easy way to create professional-looking and creative icons for your Highlights covers. Depending on your skill level, these popular applications can deliver high-quality finished products. If you’re not sure where to start, their templates can give you some inspiration or a great starting point. Their wonderful editing tools can help you create a variety of Highlights cover icons that are perfect and unique for your brand.  

A Basic Guide to Designing Your Stories Highlights Covers

  • Stick with the minimalistic style of flat icons. These have clean lines and a two-dimensional layout so they are optimized for viewability. 
  • Minimalistic, in this case, does not mean small. Make sure your Highlights cover icons are big enough to be easily recognizable, especially when viewed via a mobile device. 
  • Sort your stories appropriately — according to the type of business you have or, for personal accounts, according to your preferred categories. For example, if you have a skincare line, your Highlights categories could be facial care, body care, and hair care. If your account is a personal one, your stories could be sorted into food, travel, and wellness categories. 
  • You do not have to sort all the stories in your archive into various Highlights. The best approach is to select only those stories that you feel perfectly represent who you are; you can start with stories that earned the most engagement and/or viewers. Featuring all the stories you have published can lead to content overload and discourage viewing. 
  • Make sure the Highlights name perfectly suits the Highlights cover and adequately describes the stories you’re featuring. 
  • When using stock icons available online, whether they require payment or are for free, make sure to review the terms of use for each as some creators require proper attribution. 

Inspirations for Creating Unique Highlights Covers

Here are some examples of how different users designed their Highlights covers. 

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Applications to Customize Highlights Covers for Free

Templates or stock icons are, of course, available to everyone. To make your chosen templates uniquely your own, you can customize them to better represent your profile by using any of the following editing applications. The great thing about these two online apps is that they are equally easy to use whether you’re on a computer or a mobile phone. 


This app can be used to create and edit content for different social media platforms. You will choose the social network for which you’ll be creating your cover (or any other type of visual content) within the app itself. This means that whatever you create will be fully adapted to the selected platform’s content format requirements. 


This is another widely popular editing application, with its easy-to-use tools. Give this app a try to do some basic customizations. It can also give you the editing practice you need, whether to hone your skills or just to try out different cover styles.  

Customizing Highlights Covers

Here’s a sample guide to creating a customized cover using Canva. 

  1. Open the Canva app and select “Your Story” to view the options for Instagram stories. 
  2. For the purpose of this guide, let’s use the Blank template. You’ll be creating both the background and the icon for your cover. 
  3. Choose a background color from the options at the bottom, or click on “+” to view the color gradient; if you’re already using a specific color code for your brand, you can also type it so you can use it as the background color for all your covers. 
  4. Next, you’ll be adding an icon to the template. Click on the “+” button at the bottom right corner of the page and then select “Graphics.” You can browse through the available graphics or you can search for a specific one, such as “heart.” Click on the icon of your choice and then customize its color and size.  
  5. You can continue creating more covers by clicking on the “+” sign again (at the bottom right corner) and then selecting “Page.” Just repeat steps 3 through 5 until you’ve created all the covers you need. 
  6. When you’re done, save your covers to your phone. First, press “Share” at the top right corner. For iPhones, select “Quick Look”; for Androids, select “ Upload to Photos.” And then click on the export icon at the bottom left corner, and tap on “Save Image.”

Uploading Your Highlights Covers

In order to use the covers you have created as Highlights covers, you will have to first upload each one as an Insta story. Once you have uploaded a cover, click on the “Highlight” option at the bottom. 

You will then be given the choice to either create a new Highlight or add the cover to any of the existing Highlights. After adding to an existing Highlight, you can edit the cover to use the icon you created. Press your finger on the specific Highlight, select “Edit Highlight,” and then select “Edit Cover.”

Alternatively, you can tap on the Highlight to let the featured stories play; tap on the three dots at the bottom right corner, and select “Edit Highlight” and then “Edit Cover.”

Zoom in to make the icon on the cover bigger if it appears too small; again, the icon should be easily recognizable.  

Customizing Highlights Covers Inside Stories

You can also create a customized cover inside the Stories section itself. First, go to Stories and create a new one. For this example, select the “Type” option. Type the text you want to use as a cover, and then customize the font by tapping at the top of the screen to cycle through the available fonts. Remember to keep the cover text short and sweet; a single word is best. 

You can also customize the text color and background color. Make sure the overall graphic looks clean and is consistent with your profile’s theme. When you’re done, tap on the circle with the arrow at the bottom to share it as a story. Once it’s live, play the story and tap on the “Highlight” option at the bottom right corner. Choose whether to create a new highlight or add it to an existing one. To use it as a cover, just follow the same steps above.  

Final Thoughts

Using customized Highlights covers will give your Highlights section a streamlined look. Keep the following tips in mind when creating customized covers:

  • Make sure the elements in the cover are centered, whether they’re text, an icon, a logo, or any combination of these. 
  • Keep the design clean and simple; make sure the colors you use are consistent with your brand identity and your profile overall theme. When you’re more than familiar with customizing covers, you can create new and fancier ones. 
  • Take advantage of online editing apps to customize templates and make them uniquely your own. 

Start creating your own covers for Instagram Highlights now!