Canvas: Three Ways to Display Your Course Syllabus

There are a few options for displaying your Course Syllabus for students; this chart provides the options and the positive and negative implications of each option.

This table shows the positive and negative attributes of each method for displaying a Course Syllabus in a Canvas course site. The three methods compared are the Canvas Syllabus tool, the linking or embedding of a Google doc, and the uploading of a PDF file.


Canvas Syllabus Tool

Link or Embed a Google Doc

Upload a PDF File

How to Display a Syllabus

How do I use the Syllabus tool?

How do I create a hyperlink or embed a file from Google Drive into the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I upload a PDF to a Page in Canvas?

Positive Attributes

  • Due dates for assignments will automatically populate and update as you build and revise all course assessments. You can also turn off the Course Summary section of the syllabus.
  • Students prefer the Syllabus located in the course navigation as it is easy for them to find anytime (mobile or computer) and consistently displays there.
  • The Syllabus navigation link is always available on the course menu no matter where the student is in a course.
  • The Mobile App view has several advantages:
    • Easy to find in the course navigation area.
    • Automatically collapses the written information at the top of the syllabus page to make the page need less scrolling (but still readily accessible with one click).
    • Divides the list of assignments into Past, Today, Next 7 Days, and Future categories.
  • Some versatility -- any changes you make on the Google doc are instantly updated in the course site link
  • Displays well in the Mobile app.
  • This is a traditional way that faculty have communicated their syllabus, so this type of display is likely a familiar process for faculty.

Negative Attributes


  • If students access assignments from the links in the Syllabus, they might miss important resources or context that accompany those assignments.
    • To remedy this issue, make sure all assignment instructions include any needed resources and contextual statements.
  • Assignment due dates will not be automatically changed on this type of Syllabus when you change due dates via an assignment or on the calendar.
  • The mobile view doesn't sort assignment due dates and creates extra scrolling on a tiny screen.
  • Students have to locate the page or module that the Syllabus link is on in order to open it.
  • No versatility -- once you upload the file to your course site, you can't easily change any due dates or other information on the syllabus without uploading a new Syllabus file.
  • Students have to locate the page or module that the Syllabus link is on in order to open it.
  • Opens up as a PDF file on a mobile device, making the document a little less user-friendly by displaying very small print or causing scrolling and shifting on the screen for navigating the document.

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