Add Your Syllabus


One of the most fundamental elements of a course is the syllabus. This is a good starting point for faculty just learning Canvas, and an essential asset for students.

Per the Academic Senate, all faculty are strongly encouraged to post their syllabi in Canvas.

IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to add a link to Butte College’s Academic Policies and Procedures in your syllabus!

It is not necessary to include all such policies within your syllabus. Please ensure that any outdated District policies and procedures are removed from your syllabus.

About The Syllabus

The Syllabus tool in Canvas uses the Rich Content Editor. This is a good starting point for faculty just learning Canvas, and provides essential information to students in a versatile and accessible format.

  • The syllabus contains essential information for students.
  • The syllabus should be easy to find, and easy to read (and accessible!).
  • The RCE is the basis for creating, editing and formatting the syllabus.
  • Using the RCE to compose the syllabus improves efficiency and accessibility.
  • A syllabus can be transferred from a Word or PDF file to the RCE.

What Is A Syllabus?

A syllabus is:

  • a way of providing basic course and contact information.
  • a reflection and record of the instructor’s expectations and requirements.
  • an agreement between teacher and students.

“Your class syllabus is an important working document. It contains the instructor’s contact information and class schedule, what students can expect to learn from the course (SLOs), recommended and required books and materials, and an orientation of the instructor’s expectations of academic conduct and performance.”

Butte College Office of Instruction

Every syllabus should also include a link to the Student Academic Policies and Procedures page, provided by the Office of Instruction, to inform students of guidelines for attendance, academic integrity, and accommodations.

Instructors may COPY and PASTE the following into their own syllabus:

Academic Policies & Procedures

Attendance Guidelines – California Education Code requires attendance must be taken for the first two weeks of regular classes for census. Faculty need to have clear policies describing their withdrawal procedures.

Academic Integrity – Students are encouraged to discuss homework problems with others but need to produce assignments that are a result of their own independent effort.  

Academic Accommodations and DSPS – Students will have academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, services and/or instruction provided through a DSPS approved academic accommodation plan.


How To Add A Syllabus

Be sure to use the Syllabus tool built into every Canvas course.  This is the most common, consistent and prominent way to provide your students with easy access to this important document that informs them of many areas of the course.

The Syllabus tool uses the built in Rich Content Editor (RCE) to provide an easy way to compose and format the syllabus, including heading styles, embedded images and/or video, links to resources, and more.

  1. In your course, click the Syllabus item in the course menu.
  2. Click the Edit button.
  3. Use the RCE to enter (or paste from a document) your course syllabus information.  Edit and adjust the content using the available formatting tools, if needed.

Adding A Syllabus From A File

It is recommended that instructors add their syllabus content as text pasted and formatted directly into Canvas, and NOT as a linked/attached file (Word, PDF, etc.).

Advantages to providing the syllabus within the Rich Content Editor:

  • Easy to update
    If you need to make a correction, or add something, just go to Canvas, click Edit, make the change, and Save.  That’s it.  The syllabus is updated for you and for students.  Updating a file requires finding and opening the original document in an application (Word, for example), saving the file, then uploading the new version to overwrite the old file.

  • Displays well on small screens
    Many students access basic course content on their phones.  A Word or PDF file is very small on a mobile device, and requires a lot of pinch-and-zooming to navigate and read.  A syllabus composed in the RCE will be automatically adjust to the screen size for readability.

If your syllabus content is currently in a Word or PDF file, the content can be copied into the RCE. 

ANY text-based content is more readable when composed in the RCE.  Providing files to students introduces additional complexity and barriers to accessing important information. 

To put your syllabus content in Canvas:

  1. Open the original syllabus file (copying from Word works better than PDF)
  2. Select the entire document content
  3. Copy the selected text
  4. Go to the Syllabus tool in the Canvas course, click Edit
  5. Paste the copied content into the RCE
  6. Use the Clear Formatting tool in the RCE toolbar to “clean” the text to make it easier to correct in Canvas.
  7. Click Update Syllabus to save changes.

Clear Formatting

Text content copied and pasted from a file (Word, Google doc, PDF, etc.) may require some work to remove irregularities, such as spacing and alignment issues, sub-headings, missing images, and accessibility requirements.

Use the Clear Formatting tool in the RCE toolbar to “clean” the text to make it easier to correct in Canvas.

Animation of RCE clear formatting

With the content simplified, use the built-in tools to properly format and edit using the RCE tools.

  1. Select all of the content.
  2. Click the Clear Formatting tool to remove extraneous formatting.
  3. Use built-in RCE tools to apply heading styles, text formatting, lists, images, etc.

See the Canvas Guides:

How do I add or edit the Syllabus?

How do I use the Syllabus as an Instructor


Video Overview





4 thoughts on “Add Your Syllabus”

    • Hi Bettye-Ann,

      Yes, you may attach your syllabus as a file (PDF). However, most faculty find that copying and pasting the text of the syllabus directly into the Syllabus tool in Canvas provides an easy way to access and edit the syllabus content, as well as simplifying access for students (no need to download a file as it is displayed within the browser, and can easily be printed).

      To add the syllabus as text in the Syllabus tool:
      – go to the Syllabus tool
      – click the Edit button
      – copy the text from a Word document, then paste into the textbox provided
      – clean up any text formatting as needed (alignment, spacing, etc.)
      – click Update Syllabus

      To add the syllabus as a PDF file:
      – go to the Syllabus tool
      – click the Edit button
      – in the right sidebar, click the Files tab
      – click Upload a new file, find and select the file from your computer
      – click Upload
      – the filename will be added as a link in the Syllabus text box
      – click Update Syllabus

      I hope this helps.

      / Chris P.
      TMI, Butte College

  1. Hello,

    How can I change the order of items in the Course Summary at the bottom of the Syllabus? I have three assignments all due on January 31, 11:59pm. This is the order in which they are listed on the Course Summary:

    1.4 Quiz
    1.6 Disc
    1.5 TAH

    This makes no sense numerically or alphabetically. I would like to re-order them to match their order of appearance in Module 1.

    Thank you for your time.

    – Christie

    • Hi Christie. That’s a good question. Course Summary items are first organized by Due date, but I’m not sure of the secondary level of organization, since it’s clearly not alphabetical or numeric. I’ll open a Canvas Support case to inquire, and will post an update here, as well as email you. Stay tuned! ;-)

      A workaround might be to stagger the times by one minute, which should order the items accordingly.


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